2019 12 WWP Cyanamid Atlantic Howard Hughes site

The 657-acre former Howard Hughes site is pictured in the shaded area above in a map from West Windsor’s draft master plan. At top is Route 1 and the bottom of the site is the Amtrak mainline. Clarksville Road bisects the property.

Housing won’t be coming to the former Howard Hughes site.

West Windsor Township announced last month that it entered into a settlement agreement with Atlantic Realty Development Corporation to resolve pending litigation regarding the former Howard Hughes tract at Route 1 and Quakerbridge Road. The 653-acre tract will be developed for commercial use.

The agreement makes official a statement made by Atlantic Realty earlier this year. After the company purchased the site from the Howard Hughes Corporation for $40 million in October 2019, it told West Windsor officials that it would keep housing off the tract.

“We want to thank Atlantic Realty President David Halpern and his entire team for being open to new development ideas since purchasing the Howard Hughes property,” said West Windsor Mayor Hemant Marathe in a township press release. “It has been very productive working with them to come up with a vision that is a win-win for the residents of West Windsor and the developer. West Windsor is open for commercial development and we welcome new businesses that will benefit township residents.”

In an effort to minimize impacts of the site’s development on the community, Atlantic Realty agreed to limit on-site development to commercial uses, like warehouse and distribution facilities, said a township press release.

The township’s master plan recommends that no more than 150,000 square feet of retail space be permitted on the tract, and that big-box retail and strip retail developments “are strongly discouraged in this district.”

Prior to the sale of the property, it was the subject of an ongoing lawsuit between Howard Hughes and West Windsor—the corporation challenged its zoning, and the developer at the time was pushing a plan to build a mixed-use project, featuring retail businesses, commercial offices and potentially 2,000 residential units.

Township residents—and officials—have long been opposed to building residences on the property. During the lawsuit, West Windsor contended that adding residential units would have created strain on municipal services and schools.

“We had a very open and positive meeting with them,” Marathe said about Atlantic Realty in March. “They know that we are not looking for any new housing, because I believe we have too much to begin with, and that will put too much strain on the schools.

“Atlantic is talking to various people to put something there that won’t involve kids,” he told The News earlier this year. “They haven’t come back to us yet with a concrete proposal, or anything saying XYZ is interested in the property, but they were very positive with the changes we have done in the master plan.”

The tract has sat vacant since 2004 and is one of the largest contiguous undeveloped parcels on the East Coast. Appropriate rezoning is anticipated to become effective by the end of the month, concluding litigation that started in 2017. Ultimately, the settlement will enable the development of approximately 5.5 million square feet of warehouse and distribution facilities within the interior of the site, with retail, office, hotel and other commercial uses to be located along US Route 1 and Quakerbridge Road.

David Halpern of Atlantic Realty added, “We want to extend our gratitude to Mayor Marathe and to the members of the township council, as well as all of the municipal officials involved, for working with our organization to create a plan that is beneficial to both,” David Halpern of Atlantic Realty said. “Not only is this former industrial site a great location in one of the best towns in New Jersey, but with the contemplated redevelopment, it will also become a major tax ratable for the Township, with little in the way of municipal service requirements. The mayor and council have expressed a vision for this site, and now that vision will finally become a reality. We look forward to working closely with Mayor Marathe and the council to bring this project to fruition and thank them for allowing us to be an integral part of the rebirth of this once vibrant property.”