Family center highlights Millville project

Although Bob Harris — a representative from the Millville Group, the development company handling the Millville by the Sea project — noted the community’s family center was still in the preliminary-preliminary stage of planning, he said he had a good idea what it might look like when completed.

In a presentation to Millville town officials at a Tuesday workshop, Harris presented a plan for the 50,000 square feet-center, which would hold a library, an indoor pool and a gym, among other amenities.

The center, one of the community’s many focal points, is scheduled for construction along with Phase II of the project, which he hopes will break ground in the spring of 2007.

“We realize it’s kind of early in the community to talk about something like this,” Harris said. “But we feel that it’s very important to create the center of the community up front.”

The proposed 606-acre, 2,495-home community will sit on either side of Route 17 and will be built in separate phases. Phase I and Phase II of the community do not have approval from all of the appropriate state agencies or the town as of yet but Harris said he expects to start construction on the 197-home first phase this fall.

Along with building the homes in Phase I, the group will construct a welcome center just east of Route 17 and five to six model homes that will present a “traditional 19th-century theme” and show everyone what the community’s streets might look like when completed.

Harris said the model homes will be turned into commercial buildings when the retail town center is built years later in the project.

“It’s going to be used commercially from the beginning,” Harris said in his presentation. “It will be selling the community. It will be a good way to show people what this is going to look like.”

Along with the “good mix of residential properties” in Phase II of the project, Harris said that in 2007, the two-story family center should emerge as the focal point of the community.

In addition to the above-mentioned amenities, the proposed center will house a stage for theatrical performances, a game room with a snack bar, meeting rooms and even space that could accommodate wedding receptions.

On the second floor there will be a tenth-mile track, rooms for workshops and crafts, and an observation area looking down on the first floor.

There will also be meeting rooms, an exercise area and an additional outdoor pool, under the preliminary plan. When everything is completed, the center will tie in nicely with the retail town center constructed within walking distance, just to its west.

“There will be something going on here year-round,” Harris said, pointing to the center’s scaled-down drawing.

Because he anticipates that out-of-town residents will be attracted to its offerings, Harris said he expects that the community will charge a membership fee for use of the family center.

Residents of the community will likely pay a base fee along with their rent and current Millville residents will likely be able to take advantage of that lower base fee, as well, he said.

“It’s primarily for the use of the people in that community,” Harris said. “However, we recognized that there are things in there that everyone in Millville will want to get involved in. … It will be set up so that this will be self-sustaining through the fees.”

A community high-rise?

Although the developers are bound by a 42-foot limit on the height of the buildings in the community, Harris suggested at the meeting that he will apply for a one-time exception. In the retail town center, he said, the group wants to build a five- to six- story building that would stand out as another focal point in the community. Harris said that they were not sure what the building would be yet but it could be a hotel, a medical center or something else not even thought up yet.

The Millville group will likely apply for the one-time permit sometime in the near future, he said.