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Colleges and Hospitals Experience Construction Boost

The factors and trends behind college and hospital construction expansion in the state.

College and hospital construction in New Jersey is seeing a bigger boost than it has in the past, according to many construction companies and college and hospital advocates in the state. In this article, New Jersey Business covers a multitude of hospital and college construction projects around the state, as well as trends and the benefits these initiatives provide.


College Construction

Perhaps seeing an even larger boost than what the hospital construction sector has been experiencing is college and university construction, due largely in part to the $750 million “Building Our Future Bond Act” (BOFBA). In August of 2012, Governor Chris Christie signed legislation to place the General Obligation construction bond on the ballot, which New Jersey voters approved. Additionally, the state reauthorized bond proceeds from four other higher education funding programs that include the Higher Education Facilities Trust Fund (HEFT); the Higher Education Capital Improvement Fund (CIF); the Higher Education Technology Infrastructure Fund (HETI); and the Higher Education Equipment Leasing Fund (ELF). Combined with the General Obligation bond, the combined amount of the programs equates to more than $1.3 billion to help with new construction and maintenance of New Jersey’s higher education infrastructure.

“These bond programs are a great investment back into the state of New Jersey,” says Tony Calcado, vice president of facilities and capital planning at Rutgers University. “I think that the governor, Legislature and New Jersey voters were cognizant of the fact that building newer and updated facilities at colleges around the state will pay dividends. It’s about having top-notch facilities that students can learn at, and really, the students are what the future of our state is all about.”

Rutgers currently has approximately $800 million worth of new construction happening at its campuses around the state, part of which the school pays for due to the BOFBA requiring a 25 percent match from all colleges receiving money. Additionally, bond monies only cover academic facilities, and not dormitories, for instance.

On Rutgers’ Busch campus in Piscataway, the 145,000-square-foot Wright Riemen Chemistry and Chemical Biology Building is in the works, with $82 million of the project cost provided by the BOFBA and $33 million contributed by the university. On the University’s Camden campus, construction is set to begin on a $62.5-million 100,000-square-foot Nursing and Science Building, and on the Newark campus, a $59-million 93,000-square-foot expansion to its Life Sciences building will contain chemistry and biology research labs and three teaching labs for upper-level chemistry and biology courses. Also in Newark, Rutgers is rehabilitating and restoring 15 Washington St. in the James Street Commons Historic District, and converting it into apartments that will house approximately 350 students. It is expected to cost $94.8 million, with approximately $57 million of the financing from bonds that will be repaid through rents, $18 million from equity, and $10.7 million from the state Higher Education Facility Trust Fund.

In 2013, Rutgers broke ground on the College Avenue Redevelopment Initiative in collaboration with the New Brunswick Development Corporation, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, New Brunswick Theological Seminary and Rutgers Hillel. Scheduled to be completed in 2016, the project calls for: a 200,000 square-foot, University Academic Building, a Rutgers Honors College; relocation of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary to a new 30,000-square-foot facility; and university housing and mixed-use space in the form of a 220,000-square-foot, 500-bed apartment-style building in an on-campus setting for Rutgers University students and 15,000 square feet of service retail space.

At Kean University in Union, the school recently opened its Green Lane Building, a 102,275-square-foot, six-story, mixed-use academic building that will include a Barnes & Noble college bookstore on the first floor (scheduled to open later in 2014), classroom and administration space and a conference center and rooftop terrace. Designed by the Gruskin Group, the building will be home to Kean’s Robert Busch School of Design, as well as the university’s expanding business programs. ...

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