Route 9 lumber yard could be home for hotel, restaurants

By linda denicola
Staff Writer

Route 9 lumber
yard could be
home for hotel,
By linda denicola
Staff Writer

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — The unsightly Gordon Lumber property on Route 9 north may become the location of a hotel and two restaurants if a developer seals a deal with a hotel chain and gains municipal approval for the project.

Mayor Raymond Kershaw and the other members of the Township Committee are anxious to see the property cleaned up.

The 9-acre parcel, owned by Carl Gordon, is just south of the Route 79 intersection. The land has been for sale for several years.

Kershaw said a developer who does not want to be named yet came to the committee with a proposal to develop the property, contingent upon finding a hotel chain that wants to build in the township.

"He needs the hotel because with a hotel of over 100 rooms they would be eligible for a free liquor license from the state," the mayor said.

Kershaw said the developer does not yet have a signed contract with a hotel operator.

He said both of the proposed family-style restaurants would be owned by the same chain and would share the one liquor license that the state would grant.

"It (the property) is plenty big enough to do that," Kershaw said, adding that the committee asked the developer to provide additional information on the exact layout of the buildings and what hotel chain and restaurants will be located there.

But, he said, municipal officials are interested in the concept.

"We are anxious to have something done with that property. It is one of the last remaining unsightly properties on Route 9," Kershaw said.

He said no variances would be required for the hotel-restaurant proposal because the site is zoned for corporate multi-use, which means that hotels and restaurants are permitted uses.

"We changed the zone after the lumber yard was there," he explained.

Last month the committee rejected a proposal from Freehold Jeep-Hyundai to construct a car dealership at the lumber yard site. That plan would have required a zoning change and committee members decided they did not want another car dealership on Route 9, at least not south of the Route 33 intersection.

Kershaw said although a hotel and restaurants would generate a bit more traffic than a car dealership, he does not believe it will affect rush hour traffic in the morning.

He said the developer came to the committee before putting in an application with the Planning Board in order to get a sense of whether the committee would be receptive to such a plan.

"He told us that he would come back to us again with the drawings as a courtesy," the mayor said. "I don’t expect to hear from him for 60 days or so. He’s negotiat­ing with the hotel and restaurant chain. He has a tentative contract with Mr. Gordon, but he needs the hotel to get the liquor li­cense."

The mayor said the same developer may purchase a small piece of property at the corner of Route 9 north and Three Brooks Road.

A closed gas station presently sits on that corner.