April 25, 2024

Trentonian | Demolition of Naval Air Propulsion Base in Ewing underway

EWING — Demolition started on the decommissioned United States Naval Air Propulsion Center. This marks a step towards revitalizing Ewing’s landscape.

The site will make way for industrial innovation, economic opportunity and community revitalization.

Designated Redeveloper KRE Group joined Ewing Township Mayor Bert H. Steinmann, municipal officials and dignitaries on Monday, April 22. They marked the start of the transformative effort.

“We are thrilled to embark on this revitalization effort and are proud to be the ones capable of moving this important project forward after so many years of inactivity,” said Jonathan Kushner, President of KRE Group. “This redevelopment initiative, long championed by Mayor Steinmann, will complement the progress already made within the Redevelopment Zone while laying the groundwork for an innovative future.”

Steinmann said, “Today’s demolition day is a long-awaited step in our redevelopment plan that promises to breathe new life into this historic property. As the bricks begin to fall, we are at the crossroads of history and innovation, and I am excited about the future.”

The project aims to further Ewing Township’s goal for a vibrant Town Center. It will include complementary uses that enhance residents’ quality of life and foster economic growth.

Operated by the U.S. Navy as a vital jet engine test facility from 1951 until 1997, the Naval Air Propulsion Center played a crucial role in bolstering America’s military capabilities. The site’s narrative dates back even further, with the General Motors Inland Fisher Guide manufacturing plant on Parkway Avenue being requisitioned by the government during World War II in December 1941. The plant swiftly transformed into Eastern Aircraft, a division of GM, retooling to produce the Avenger, the US Navy’s primary torpedo bomber. While the GM plant focused on aircraft production, the Navy utilized 1000 acres across the street, which it had purchased from GM, for a different purpose — to build a testing facility for jet engines. This strategic decision led to the establishment of the Naval Air Turbine Test Station (NATTS) in 1951, which became operational in 1956 and contributed greatly to advancing aviation technology.

The redevelopment of the former Naval Air Repulsion Center is the second and final phase of the Township’s Parkway Avenue Redevelopment Plan, which was first adopted in 2013. The endeavor follows the successful transformation of the former General Motors factory into the bustling Ewing Town Center which offers a mix of retail and residential uses.