Memorial Sloan-Kettering is eyeing a large empty office building at 480 Red Hill Road in Middletown near Garden State Parkway Exit 114 for an outpatient cancer treatment center, according to Middletown Township officials.
At a Township Committee workshop meeting Thursday, elected officials expressed enthusiasm for the idea of a new medical facility in town that could employ 300 professionals. Mayor Anthony Fiore said, "We're going to do everything we can to bring that ratable into town, to bring those hundreds of very high-paying jobs to Middletown and the surrounding area... I'm very excited about the prospects of this potential tenant."
But there is one hurdle. The empty building, formerly owned by Lucent Technologies but abandoned for a decade, sits in an Office Retail zone where medical-related facilities are not a permitted use. So Memorial Sloan-Kettering has requested that Middletown Township reconsider its existing zoning of that parcel.
"They specifically requested that the Township consider permitting a treatment center, medical offices, administrative offices and a data center," said Township Planner Jason Greenspan. Adjustments would also have to be made to the parking facilities as they relate to medical use, he said.
Greenspan said he looked over the proposals and saw no red flags. "In my opinion there are no inconsistencies with the [township] master plan. In fact, the 2011 re-examination report cited this property as being ripe for redevelopment."
He said the township should embrace the re-use of underutilized properties over constructing new ones, whenever possible. The multi-story, 285,000 square foot concrete and glass building was built in 1984 and is now owned by Investor Warranty of America and assessed at $9 million. Memorial Sloan-Kettering has indicated they would like to expand it by another 11,000 feet, Greenspan said.
The planner told the governing body that their next steps would be to review the extensive planning report, introduce a zoning change ordinance, obtain a master plan compliance review by the Planning Board, and present the legislation for public hearing on October 15, said Greenspan.
Township Attorney Brian Nelson said the OR zone permitted-use schedule was "antiquated" and should be reviewed, regardless of Memorial Sloan Kettering's request or not.
The township is seeing more market demand for unwanted office buildings that can be repurposed for medical professional and medical-related uses. Last year, the township approved two medical related businesses in the Route 35 highway business zone.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering, headquartered in Manhattan, has suburban outpatient treatment centers for the convenience of its patients and .