Plans for H-2, the second phase of the New Jersey Health + Life Science Exchange in downtown New Brunswick, will include 360,000 square feet of build-to-suit lab and office space at the mixed-use campus. It would rise alongside a first phase that’s now under construction and slated to include a facility known as the New Jersey Innovation HUB, a new home for the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a center for what’s known as translational research. — Courtesy: New Brunswick Development Corp.
Speaking for myself, it’s been hard not to follow the major developments in New Brunswick over the past few decades. My career as a reporter started in Middlesex County, where I also happened to grow up, and the city remained a focal point of private- and public-sector investment once I began covering commercial real estate nearly 13 years ago.
New Brunswick has continued to deliver since then, even as recently as early December. As you’ll read in this month’s cover story, the city ended 2023 on a high note when Nokia announced that it would become the new home of its iconic Bell Labs division. The company, which will move from its historic campus in the Murray Hill section of Union County, plans to occupy a built-to-suit, 360,000-square-foot research tower at the new HELIX campus by 2028. It’s slated to do so under a lease with SJP Properties, which will build the facility in partnership with New Brunswick Development Corp., the project’s master developer, in a signature deal for the city and for the three-building, multibillion-dollar redevelopment project.
“By 2028, New Brunswick will be a significantly different place than it is today,” said Chris Paladino, president of New Brunswick Development Corp. “And it will be another chapter, maybe two chapters, in probably the most significant urban redevelopment story in the country, for a city that was in decline in the ’70s.
“There are some New Jersey cities that have never pulled out of that, but New Brunswick continues to grow in population and it continues to grow in its diversification of job opportunities and communities that it serves. It shows what’s possible when people are on the same page and are supportive of each other.”
Elsewhere in this edition, we highlight redevelopment in Berkeley Heights, where a spate of public and private investment is transforming the area around the train station, as local officials look to make their downtown more walkable and commuter-friendly. More than 700 new residential units are coming to the municipality, with much of the construction spurred by court-mandated affordable housing obligations, but local officials have sought to manage the growth while balancing it with new parks, walkways and other steps to help upgrade their downtown.
Our January issue also has a rare and admittedly unintentional connection between two of our major feature stories. Berkeley Heights is one of two host communities for Bell Labs’ 200-acre campus Murray Hill. That gave us an opportunity to hear from officials there as they digested the news that the site will become vacant after more than eight decades. While the news may have been hard to swallow, those officials are now thinking about what comes next.
You can find those stories and more in our first issue of 2024, which includes coverage of our recent (and seemingly well-timed) event showcasing redevelopment in New Brunswick. Our thanks to the sponsors who made the event possible and the hundreds of attendees who joined us in mid-November. We were thrilled with the outcome.
With that, best of luck in the new year! Thanks for reading and enjoy the issue!