JACKSON – Adventure Crossing USA, a sports/recreation complex that is expected to help lead the community into a new era of tourism through entertainment attractions, is moving forward.
Adventure Crossing is one of two large sports-themed projects that have been proposed in recent years and promise to change the landscape and provide major ratables for the township. Late last month the plan gained two important approvals from the township zoning board.
Last spring in an interview with The Jackson Times, Township Mayor Michael Reina proclaimed that “Jackson’s future is here.” His remark came in reference to the approval of a proposed hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, to be located on 567 Monmouth Road.
The hotel will complement the building of the township’s first sports/recreation complex. That complex, Adventure Crossing USA, is the $500 million dream of Jackson developer Vito Cardinale, president of Cardinale Enterprises.
Land for Adventure Crossing has already been cleared. When completed, the project will represent 300 acres along Monmouth Road based between Interstate 195 and Six Flags Great Adventure.
“We were blessed last night,” Cardinale said on Jan. 31, a day after the Zoning Board meeting where his two applications received unanimous approval. “We got our general development plan approved. Time now to get it built.”
Cardinale has said that providing this facility and a hotel to support it will permit such teams and their fans to bypass tournaments and attractions in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Adventure Crossing will also offer rock climbing and laser tag.
The five-story Hilton Garden Inn will include 134 rooms and a full-service restaurant. The 10,000 square-foot hotel property will be located adjacent to Six Flags Great Adventure and will also offer a 24-hour business center and state of the art fitness center.
Sean Gertner, an attorney for the zoning board’s law firm whose specialty is in urban and environmental planning, explained what had been approved.
“Technically it was two applications. One, for a general development plan that involved variances that included apartments and a research and development facility. The second is for a preliminary site plan for phase one for prior applications. There were pad spaces included along Route 537 and the applicant added to the project to expand areas on Anderson Road. The project abuts Great Adventure Hurricane Harbor,” Gertner said.
Gertner said that the president of CentraState Hospital provided testimony during the meeting supporting the project which includes supporting the hospital’s research.
The attorney also said that the community has waited 37 years for a hotel but that no one had sought to build it “without there being more people in that area” but with the addition of the projects proposed – restaurant and retail uses and apartments – this is now expected to change.
Gertner said several site plans now need to be refined. “It locks in the vision for the protection of the applicant and the municipality as changes are made. With a project this size a lot of steps are involved and part of those steps involves approvals from Monmouth and Ocean counties for roads and the State DOT (Department of Transportation). That is just what is needed on the transportation side.”
Gertner said there were some concerns expressed by residents of Anderson Road during the meeting that centered on the impact of traffic that might be caused in the area by the overpass on Route 537 and I195.
“I-195 is narrow and there are issues of buffering and traffic on Devine Road and Anderson. The Board took into account the residents’ concerns on traffic impacts,” Gertner said.
Gertner added that the applicant was preserving 100 acres of open space that may be used for a rainwater recharge area. “We may see a pedestrian and bike trials depending on the topography of the area or a rain garden, things like that.”
Cardinale will come before the zoning board again when the site plans are finalized which may take several months according to Gertner.