It was billed originally as a sports megaplex filled with a major indoor golf simulator, outdoor and indoor ice skating centers, and indoor sports area, field house, sports fields, restaurants and more.
Each time developer Vito Cardinale of Cardinale Enterprises goes before the Jackson Planning Board for ceremonial stamp of approval there’s less entertainment and more other stuff. This time around, the indoor recreation center is out…a parking garage is in.
That other stuff has turned into 2 million square feet of warehouses, 500 apartment units, no golf, no ice skating, less entertainment activity and now, an urban parking garage in the middle of what was once hundreds of acres of pristine land in Jackson Township.
Being represented by Attorney Salvatore Alfieri, who is also the attorney of record for another controversial application, Jackson Trails, is seeking another zoning variance to build a six level parking garage with 1,100 parking space.
Cardinale has big plans for the site, including a Multiple Sclerosis research center that would see drones flying human brains across Ocean and Monmouth Counties from Centra State Hospital minutes after an MS patient dies. Those brains would be flown by drone nearly 5 miles to reach Cardinale’s MS research center where they can be studied.
He said the site will also feature a 7-11, Popeyes, Jersey Mike’s and Starbucks, but Cardinale has been known to announce tenants for the project long before the ink has hit the paper.
And he’ll get what he wants from the township. Cardinale has been writing campaign checks to the right people in Ocean County to get the job done. Cardinale began writing political campaign donations in 2019, after never having made any prior in New Jersey. He has written $1,550 total in checks made out to Ocean County Freeholders Virginia Haines and Jack Kelly. We also donated money to Frank Holman’s Ocean County GOP Finance Committee.
Cardinale’s project application will soon be heard by the Ocean County board, which its members were all appointed by the Freeholders and consist of fellow developers and party insiders.
Cardinale’s project received its initial approval in the form of spot zoning urged by Mayor Michael Reina, who is employed by the Ocean County Freeholders, now commissioners.
Weeks before Reina approved the spot zoning, he and Cardinale met in private in an Atlantic City cocktail lounge after attending a political event hosted by Cardinale’s lawyer Alfieri. Reina had said he needed to go to Atlantic City to “talk to Vito” about his project after it suffered a setback in a lawsuit that scared away potential investors. Reina said he had a idea on to get the project back on track. That idea later turned out to be a spot zoning ordinance.
Weeks later, the council, granted Cardinale spot zoning to allow him to build apartments and warehouses at the once touted regional entertainment destination.
When completed, the six story garage could be the tallest building in the township. The deal keeps changing.