Brick Township Mayor John Ducey has announced that the empty lot on Route 70 finally has new plans - an indoor recreation and retail center.

The former Foodtown property has been empty for over a decade. The township has owned the 10 acre lot since 2003, and this agreement ends a legal battle between the town and M&M Developers.

Brick will receive $5 million for the sale of the land and split the lot into two section. M&M will redevelop the front half with three retail locations. The second half will be sold and developed by HFZ Brick as an indoor recreation center with sports fields, basketball court and rooms for dance or yoga studios and other activities, according to township officials.

In 2009, M&M agreed to purchase the development rights for more than $7 million and planned to build a 120-room hotel, grocery store, retail store, two restaurants and a banquet hall. After an attorney claimed a hotel would not be successful, M&M changed plans to build 192 condos and a retail complex. The back-and-forth continued when Brick officials didn't want to build homes on the site; the township broke M&M's agreement, and M&M sued.

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I lived in Brick for about 25 years (and only moved to Lakewood, so I still shop in the Route 70 area), and I can barely remember that site as anything but an empty lot. The biggest issue of this property is the location; the whole area around Route 70 and Chambers Bridge and Cedar Bridge and Brick Boulevard can be a mess. The endless twists and turns of jughandles and no-turn lanes are hard enough to navigate when you're trying to leave Brick Plaza - adding another shopping center right down the road could make it a lot harder.

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