Planners OK final two buildings in Matrix industrial center begun in ’92

An architect’s rendering of one of the last two warehouses that will complete the Matrix Business Park at 7A. One warehouse will be leased to the Falken Tire Co. and the other is being built by Matrix on speculation.

An architect’s rendering of one of the last two warehouses that will complete the Matrix Business Park at 7A. One warehouse will be leased to the Falken Tire Co. and the other is being built by Matrix on speculation.

After 21 years and more than 60 Planning Board appearances, the principals of the Matrix Development Group had cause to celebrate recently as the final two buildings in their sprawling 950-plus-acre industrial center won final board approval.

“We started this process back in 1992,” Matrix Development Group principal Alec Taylor said at the conclusion of the two-hour Planning Board meeting on June 19 when the last two projects received minor subdivision and final site plan approvals.

“You and your predecessors have approved 20 buildings in the industrial park on over 950 acres that adds up to 9.8 million square of approved space,” Taylor told the board, referring to both the Matrix Business Park at 7A, where the two newest warehouses will be located, and the Northeast Business Park off West Manor Way.

Of that total 9.8 million square feet in approved commercial space, 8.2 million will be done by next year when the two newest warehouses and the 1-million-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center now under construction are done, Taylor said. Only 10 percent of approved space is reserved for possible future expansion, he said.

“Together we’ve created a park that will employ somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 people by the time all these buildings are done,” Taylor told township officials.

Earlier in the evening the board had voted 6-0 to approve Matrix’s application to subdivide one 45.8-acre lot near the corner of Montgomery and New Canton Way into two buildable lots of about 10 acres each. The oddly shaped third lot will have two water retention basins and wetlands.

Matrix officials told the township planners a multi-national performance tire company, Falken Tire, has already signed a lease for the larger 218,196-square foot warehouse that will have a 185-foot deep truck port including 34 loading docks and 50 trailer stalls. Matrix is building the second smaller 183,084-square-foot warehouse next door on speculation and has not yet signed a tenant for that space.

Richard Burrow, the applicant’s engineer, told the Planning Board the Falken Tire facility would have a minimal traffic impact because the building would only have 15 employees and bring in about 20 tractor-trailers a day. The building’s truck court will be secured with an 8-foot iron gate joining 10-foot tall concrete walls that will have a similar architectural look to he building itself. The 10-foot high walls required a variance because the code limits fences/walls to 8 feet in that zone.

The second spec building, totaling 183,084 square feet, is designed to have up to two tenants, Burrow said. The building has office space at both the north and south ends of the building and 34 loading docks with a 185-foot truck court. After considerable discussion, a variance was approved for the loading docks because the township code requires the docks to be 14 feet wide and the applicant had proposed 12.5-foot-wide docks in order to maximize the number of loading docks.

Burrow said the truck court was sufficiently long enough to give tractor-trailer drivers room to maneuver into the narrower docks, which he and Matrix principal Ken Griffin said were the new evolving standard in the warehouse industry. If Matrix had to comply with the 14-foot wide dock requirement it would lose four docks and reduce the marketability of the warehouse building, Burrow said.

After the subdivision and final site plan applications were approved, Taylor and Planning Board officials were in a reflective mood about the end of a 21-year process to create what Taylor called one of the best industrial parks in the state, rivaled only by the much larger Raritan Center in Edison. The concentration of Fortune 500 companies in Robbinsville, however, is what sets it apart, he said.

“There’s no industrial park that’s better, that has next to each other Amazon, McKesson and Mercedes-Benz, and to say nothing of all the other guys,” Taylor said.

The Falken Tire warehouse, the spec warehouse, the Amazon fulfillment center and the McKesson distribution center are all located in a portion of the industrial center that is a designated redevelopment area, where tax abatement incentives, called Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements, have been approved by the Township Council.  PILOTs provide the township with a proportion of the taxes otherwise due and typically generate lower revenues in the early years of the agreement, but increase in the later years of the PILOT, which range from five to 20 years. After the PILOTs expire the property owner pays the regular t


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