After many years of discussion and planning Medford built a new municipal building and library on Union Street. The former municipal building was two old houses that were annexed together and was totally inadequate as a municipal building. The old buildings were not fully ADA compliant, not energy efficient and clearly in need of rehabilitation. Similarly, the former library building on Allen Avenue was not nearly the modern library and technically up to date facility that the residents of Medford deserve.
Once the Township moved into the new building, the process of selling the old building began. The first step was designating the Township property as an “area in need of redevelopment” and adopting a redevelopment plan to specify the possible uses of the property. Main Street is more bustling than it has ever been. The one thing that we always hear is that we need more food and beverage businesses on Main Street and these were the uses designated in the redevelopment plan. Two appraisals were then done on the building. The Township then advertised asking for RFPs,(request for proposals) to redevelop the property. The minimum bid was established by averaging the values of the two appraisals, which is standard. The Township received one response. A successful brewery, with a location in North Jersey, submitted the only response. Their proposal was to build their 2nd brewery and tasting area on the property. Council then adopted a resolution accepting the brewery’s RFP and named the brewery as the redeveloper of the property.
This process was done very publicly. There were not only council meetings but there were public meetings at the planning board. The redevelopment plan was adopted by ordinance, after a public hearing. The RFP was accepted and the resolution appointing the redeveloper was adopted at a public meeting. None of this was behind closed doors and anyone had the opportunity to submit a proposal.
The owners of the brewery became interested in Medford several years ago. They loved the location and the thriving downtown area. They reached out to the Township planning and zoning office about a site they were looking at, the former Kirby’s Feed Store now the Feed Mill. There was nothing in the Township regulations that would bar them from developing that site and they pursued it. The brewery ultimately was outbid by the group that developed the Feed Mill. They asked the Township to let them know if there were any other locations in the Township. Several locations were suggested to them but after review they decided that they wouldn’t work for them. The municipal building and library were mentioned to them as future possibilities, but the Township still occupied them and would for some time. Clearly the brewery monitored the status of the buildings and responded to the advertised RFP.
There was no special treatment given to the brewery; they just were the only ones to submit a proposal.