For years, as more and more shopping has been taking place online, a growing number of businesses along Route 18 in East Brunswick have been forced to shut down, but plans are in the works to revitalize the area in a very big way.

According to East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen, it’s all systems go for reinventing that stretch of roadway and creating an entertainment corridor.

He said while there will still be stores along Route 18, “it’s just not going to be a primary retail, it needs to move to the next century, which is entertainment, services, getting people out of their house.”

Big plans

He said there are already two tennis centers on Route 18 and there are plans for “ice rinks that will attract hockey and other ice-related sports from around the state, we’re doing 2 rinks, we want the tournaments and the tours coming into town utilizing hotels, and restaurants.”

Cohen said part of the ice rink plans call for the developer to make improvements on 8 acres of the site which will be deeded to the township for recreational purposes.

He pointed out Robert Wood Johnson is taking out 60,000 square feet on Route 18 for medical services and several different restaurants are coming in as well.

“So you can see that the highway is over time is being transformed from what was only a retail corridor to more of an entertainment, services, restaurants.”

Cohen said the entertainment corridor will also feature bowling and Rock ‘N’ Air, described as an immersive indoor adventure experience with rock climbing walls, paintball, trampolines, a zipline and more.

What kind of restaurants?

He said there will be an assortment of one-of-a-kind mom-and-pop restaurants and “the kids, millennials, Gen Z’s and even younger, they want the chain restaurants, I want a Chick-fil-A, they want to go to interesting, fun but chain restaurants.”

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Who will show up?

He said this entertainment corridor will attract people from all over New Jersey.

“We’re exit 9 on a Turnpike that has 18 exits, we’re smack in the center of New Jersey and Route 18 is right off of it,” he said. “ it’s going to be a draw not only for East Brunswick residents but for the state and frankly I think the region.”

He said the town has designated parts of Route 18 as redevelopment zones, which allows tax incentives to be offered to developers to come in and “turn these vacant and blighted properties around.”

He said with all of the vacancies the town has had “it brings down property values, it is an area of blight and it certainly does not provide the type of revenue that the town depends upon.”

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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