A proposed 52,000-square-foot indoor sports complex cleared a big hurdle Tuesday as Moorestown’s Planning Board gave its OK for plans to move forward.
The complex hasn’t crossed the finish line, but it rounded a corner on a series of approvals needed to begin the four-building project off of Flynn, Redmond and Glen avenues. The project, dubbed the Field House, still needs final Planning Board approval, construction plan approval and another presentation before the Appearance Committee, among other steps.
Kevin Loftus, a 15-year Moorestown resident and managing member for the proposed Field House, was all smiles after the three-hour Planning Board meeting, calling it a big step in process. Moorestown needs an indoor sports complex, he said, for kids and adults alike to play close to home.
“I’ve coached in town, my kids play a lot of sports, I’m friends with parents in town, and we all complain about having to drive to Mount Laurel or Cherry Hill,” Loftus said. “There’s a need. It’s going to be opportunity for people to stay in town.”
As plans stand, the complex would feature four buildings on what is now a vacant, overgrown lot last occupied by Moorestown Gardens a decade ago. Two existing buildings would be retrofitted, with one partially demolished, and two buildings would go up on the site.
Features would include an indoor turf field, batting cages, strength and agility training areas and some exercise equipment.
With plans on a roll, the Field House could progress quickly.
“Our goal is to be open for the winter training season,” Loftus said. “We’ve identified that as starting Oct. 1.
“Whether that’s too aggressive, because we have a fair amount of work to do on the facility, we’d still like to have buildings one and two—the administrative building and training field—open for use in advance of the winter training season, with the expectation that building three, the large facility, would be built sometime next year and be ready for the 2014 training season.”
Traffic, parking and noise questioned
The site is situated now to open to Flynn Avenue, but plans call for Flynn and Redmond avenues to be blocked off with landscaping and berms and the entrance to be relocated through Glen Avenue, which feeds in off of New Albany Road. That change would happen when construction begins, and the Field House would have a Glen Avenue address.
Nearby residents from Farmdale Road asked several questions about the Field House project during the Planning Board hearing, but didn’t outright object to any of the plans.
Residents were mainly concerned with traffic, stormwater management and potential noise from the site. In a nod to residents’ concerns, Loftus and partners agreed to ensure all lights but security ones are out no later than an hour after the last game.
Loftus anticipates the Field House could open from 6 or 7 am. to midnight, as sports leagues take advantage of pre-work and late night games. But, he stressed, all groups must schedule their time and walk-ins won’t be accepted.
Unlike other similar indoor complexes in South Jersey, the Field House won’t double as an entertainment spot for loud music or have playground equipment, Loftus promised.
“The loudest things I expect to hear are whistles and cheers,” he said.
Tuesday’s meeting also had some back and forth over planned parking. A project of this size calls for nearly 300 parking spaces, but the plan asks for a variance for 103 instead. The project’s professionals noted it was a conservative estimate based on maximum usage at the Field House. Parking, which is in the back of the building, could be expanded if necessary. The lot ends near several acres of unused space on the 8.4-acre property.
The Field House has the unanimous support of Moorestown’s Economic Advisory Committee, that group’s chairman Jake Der Hagopian said.
“I’m very encouraged to see this type of use,” he said. “It’s going to contribute to our local businesses when people leave the facility and go shop or eat on Main Street.”
Seth Broder, an attorney representing the project applicants, called the Field House a win for Moorestown.
“The property has been abandoned, neglected and is something that is, frankly, quite an eyesore,” he said. The project “will take an eyesore and transform it into a top-notch facility that will benefit the town immensely with no foreseeable detriment.”
You tell us: What do you think of the Field House plans?