By Laura D.C. Kolnoski |FORT MONMOUTH – A long-vacant “eyesore” along Pinebrook Road in Eatontown is the latest Fort Monmouth parcel set to embark on a new life.The 63.7-acre former Howard Commons housing complex of 486 units built in 1953 in the Charles Wood Area, along with a 3,853-square-foot general purpose building, are on track to be purchased by American Properties at Monmouth LLC, part of American Properties Realty, Inc. of Woodbridge. The agreed upon price is $5.9 million.Plans are to demolish the existing structures and construct approximately 251 new residential units with up to 15,000 square feet of retail space, plus pedestrian trails, open space, streetscape improvements, and connectivity to adjacent sports fields. Adhering to requests from Eatontown officials, up to 200 units will be single-family, owner-occupied, detached residences rather than rentals. The remainder of the housing component will fill the 20 percent affordable housing requirement. Eatontown already has one of the largest numbers of rental properties in Monmouth County.Demolition and new construction should commence within 60 days of closing with the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA). Work, to include water and sewer mains to service the property, will be done in phases with completion anticipated within five years. American Properties has committed to creating 28 permanent jobs at the site or 13 permanent jobs if it opts not to build the retail component. The agreement allows the firm to use its discretion on whether to proceed with the retail aspect or devote that space to additional housing or open space.The company prevailed as the successful bidder the second time the parcel was offered in 2014. After the initial Request for Offers to Purchase was released in 2012, the selected bidder was HovWest, part of Hovnanian Enterprises of Red Bank. Citing higher than anticipated ground water on the site that would require modifications to its development plan, HovWest terminated their agreement.“American Properties listened to the request of our borough,” said Eatontown Mayor Dennis Connelly. “It was slated to be townhomes but we wanted single-family homes and wanted this proper ty cleaned up. We look for ward to seeing this.”“It’s been a long haul watching those ramshackle homes and the hazards that go with it,” added FMERA Chairman James V. Gorman.PLANS UNDERWAY FOR FIRST PUBLIC AUCTIONWhen the general public comes to a warehouse on the Fort Monmouth property at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 20 for the first small lot auction of items left behind when the Army vacated the historic base in 2011, an eclectic array of items will be up for auction. The Auctioneers Group of Neptune is working with FMERA on the event.Signs, banners, coat racks, lamps, and decades worth of mementoes are among the items being gathered and categorized in advance of the auction from several buildings. A festive community day is planned with food, music, videos of the fort’s history, and more, including hats bearing the fort’s logo. Tours are also being considered but plans for those were not finalized at press time.“This promises to be a fun event,” said Rick Harrison, FMERA’s director of facilities planning, who added that more information will be available at fortmonmouthnj.com prior to the public auction.Also being planned for the public is a celebration of the fort’s 100th anniversary this June. FMERA staff has begun preparing for the event, details of which will be announced soon, officials said.This article was first published in the April 27-May 4, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.