Citizens for Informed Land Use
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LAND USE ISSUES
Alcatel-Lucent (Bell Labs)
A Mixed Use Solution
CILU has been on record, since June 2006, as opposing the original developer's plan that distributed housing on the entire 400 plus acres surrounding the current Lucent/Bell Labs building. We also highlighted their lack of commitment as to preserving all or part of the building designed by Eero Saarinen. Not only are there historic reasons not to tear the building down but it would be an incredible waste of material and human ingenuity to remove such a potential asset and unique focus from our town.
One of CILU’s major concerns has always been the preservation of the environment, in particular the protection of the Swimming River Reservoir watershed. To protect the water supply for the residents of Monmouth County, the property surrounding the Alcatel-Lucent building should be maintained as Open Space providing ground water recharge for the streams and the reservoir. In fact since 1950, Holmdel’s zoning ordinance allowed only a 5% building footprint on this land. The continued protection of this property would enhance the existing adjacent Greenbelt of Holmdel consisting of Holmdel Park, the Chase Tract (Ramanessin Conservation Area and the two preserved farms), F&F, Bayonet Farm, and the Rachlin Farm, etc. This Greenbelt is approximately 1050 acres and it is vital to feeding rainwater back into our reservoir.
CILU has gained a great deal of insight as to how large properties such as Lucent have been resuscitated across the Country through good design by creating a mix of differing small and medium scale uses. In April of 2008 CILU hosted a three day Design Seminar “The Bell Labs Charette, A Sustainable Future,” The participants were professional Architects, Planners and Construction Engineers who volunteered through the NJ American Institute of Architects. To create a sustainable robust functioning facility, possible uses suggested in their final report were small corporate headquarters, support offices for the banking industry, research and development labs, a medical center, apartment condominiums, hotel rooms, a conference center, a fitness center with swimming, a town or regional library, a University outpost of classrooms, shops, restaurants and/or private professional offices.
Based on this Charette it appears that a small amount of condominium housing within the building or on the building’s footprint may be an important addition to maintain the building as a lively priority destination to attract all the other type of building uses. Uses such as bookstores and restaurants need more user hours than office workers alone would provide. All uses should be focused into the building’s atrium. If most housing activity is dispersed on the oval road around the building and not focused on the Atrium, the vibrancy of mixed uses is non-existent and too diffused. There are two million square feet of empty space available. - Why build more?