MILLVILLE — This was a good week for the New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Operators said they signed a contract Friday for what they hope will be the first of several new retail facilities that will start providing revenue necessary to maintain the park’s financial health.
Park General Manager Brad Scott said the 15,000-square-foot facility will be built inside the park, near the main entrance off Dividing Creek Road. He described the company that will occupy the facility as a “racing-industry related service for performance cars.”
The new endeavor, for which financial details were unavailable, might provide the spark for other retail operations, he said.
“Once you get the first one in, others can follow after that,” Scott said.
And on Monday, the city’s Planning Board gave site-plan approvals for two projects that park operators said last year were designed to make other financial investments at the park more attractive and affordable.
First, the park gained approval for 14 “exotic car garages.” Planning Board officials said the garages contain lofts that can be used for everything from bar to sleeping space.
Scott said the park already has deposits for nine of the garages, the prices of which depend on square footage. He said a 500-square-foot trackside garage can be bought for about $62,000.
Also gaining Planning Board approval were plans for 10 new units for the trackside Villas at Breighton.
The units are significantly smaller and less expensive than the two-story, three bedroom units that carried an asking price of about $400,000. These are single-floor, one-bedroom units with pricetags starting at about $180,000.
Scott said the units were scaled down to make them more attractive to potential buyers. The park has some “soft interest” in the planned units, he said.
Work on both the garages and the Villas at Breighton units should begin this summer, Scott said.
Scott said park operators hope this week’s actions are a sign of more financial investments in their facility.
“It is very exciting and very encouraging to see that individuals and companies are investing into not only the sport but also our property,” he said.
The outlook is far different from that of March 2010. That’s when the park filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after the recession soured the commercial and residential plans on which its operators depended for revenue.
Federal Bankruptcy Court records showed the park owed more than $33.1 million to its largest 20 creditors. The bulk of that was a $30 million loan the park had with Merrill Lynch.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Judith Wizmur eventually approved a financial restructuring plan in July 2011 that cut $10 million off the Merrill Lynch loan. The park’s majority owner became NEI Motorsports, an investor group that included some of the facility’s owners. NEI paid out $2 million to help the raceway meet outstanding obligations.
Also, park operators also changed the facility’s strategy. The park was to go from an exclusive, high-end operation that failed financially to a more broad-based entertainment venue that plans to stay in business by attracting a more diverse customer base.
Part of that is by the addition of a motocross facility, an activity that Scott said many park visitors have asked for over the years.
Plans call for building the motocross facility on an 84-acre parcel of land. The site is on Buckshutem Road, across from the main park.
Scott said the Planning Board is scheduled to consider those plans next month.
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