Planning for the complete reconstruction of most of the Dover Mall was approved last night, as the Toms River Planning Board reviewed the proposed final architectural and landscaping plans.
Approved via unanimous decision, the plans entail the demolition of the current complex in favor of erecting newer buildings to take their place. Project Architect Eugene D. Wright Jr. of the Lederer & Wright Partnership and Attorney Harvey L. York presented a more concrete vision of the future Dover Mall, going into detail about the external aesthetics of the new buildings and some changes in the overall structure.
“This approval allows the D'Onofrio family to start construction with the exception of the ShopRite,” said York. “But now the big building on 166 and the little building in the front can go forward with construction.”
The property, owned by the D'Onofrio family and Dan-D, Inc., started undergoing major changes yesterday as demolition of the shut down Bradlees got underway. A new Super ShopRite will take its place, as the final architectural and landscape review for that portion of the project is slated to go in front of the planning board in the near future.
The new Dover Mall, which will be 40,000 square feet in size, will have an earthy color scheme with light shades of beige and brown covering the exterior of the buildings. The two new pylon signs scheduled to be built facing the adjacent routes saw some tweaks from the original application, as they are now slightly smaller in size. The Staples plans were also tweaked, as one of the two loading areas is being removed from the new building.
“We eliminated one of those loading areas because it just was not necessary and reconfigured the architecture of the building,” said York. “In the original application, two areas were provided.”
As currently noted on the large sign overlooking the corner of Routes 166 and 37, the Staples will remain open during the entire construction process.
“The existing Staples will remain open because they have an ongoing lease. What's being done is what's called a phased project,” said Wright. “They're going to build the new building and then once that building is complete, Staples will move into that one, allowing for the previous building to be demolished.”
Also accounted for in the plans is the destruction of the Oak Warehouse, as previous plans to renovate and maintain the building have been scrapped. Once rebuilt, the building will house a Spirits Unlimited. The closed Oak Warehouse furniture store is the self-standing building on the front of the property, facing Route 166.
The Spirits Unlimited, which more than a decade ago operated in the rear of the site next to the former Shoprite, will now be in the front of the property in the Oak Warehouse spot. “We're going to build it pretty much where it is right now but just 200 square feet smaller and make it more square, apparentl,” York said.
As it stands, the only work approved from the meeting was for the new Staples building and the shops connected to it for future tenants, as well as the Spirits Unlimited and the two new signs. Future hopes are to bring big name anchor stores to the Dover Mall, such as Best Buy or Bed Bath and Beyond.
“As additional tenants come in, they'll build new buildings. You don't want to spend a lot of money obviously and not have a tenant in this economy,” said Wright. “And obviously when you have a big project, you hope to get that major anchor. As these buildings get built, hopefully with the visibility, more tenants will come on board.”