A rendering of Crossings at Raritan, a planned 276-unit multifamily project in Raritan Borough. — Courtesy: Accurate Builders & Developers
By Joshua Burd
Jack Klugmann couldn’t have timed it any better.
The developer took to the podium on Tuesday afternoon to kick off a groundbreaking ceremony for his firm’s new multifamily project near downtown Raritan. Less than a minute into his remarks, an NJ Transit passenger train rumbled past no more than a few dozen yards behind him, a reminder of what will be the biggest selling point of the new development.
“I was hoping for this to happen,” said a smiling Klugmann, the CEO of Accurate Builders & Developers, later adding: “That’s the biggest amenity and the best amenity that we have.”
Such is the appeal of what will be known as Crossings at Raritan, a planned 276-unit rental project that is now underway in the Somerset County borough. Located at 3rd Street between 1st and 2nd avenues, the development will revitalize a site that is just steps from the Raritan train station, aiming to capture the demand for new rentals near mass transit.
“We’ve been developing along the Raritan Valley Line,” Klugmann said, citing projects in Bound Brook and Plainfield. “You always want to go for the best and you’re always going after train lines … so for us it was important to be here and important to be part of Raritan.”
Designed by Devereaux & Associates, plans call for layouts ranging from studios to three-bedrooms. The complex will include amenities such as a fitness center, a community room and a business center, along with structured parking and bike-share program.
Completion is slated for late 2019.
Tuesday’s ceremony drew a host of local, county and state officials and other well-wishers. Among them was Mayor Charles McMullin, who said that such a project “was breaking new ground for us — and that’s a scary thing to do.” But he credited everyone from the borough’s professionals to its governing body and planning board, along with state Sen. Kip Bateman and Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caliguire, who were both at the event.
McMullin also said the borough, Somerset County and the state are pursuing infrastructure upgrades that would make Raritan more pedestrian- and bike-friendly. That has caught the interest of corporate citizens in the borough including Johnson & Johnson and LabCorp, whose regional headquarters and lab complex is just across the street from Klugmann’s project.
“This development is a shining example of not only the public sector seeking to have that kind of community, but the private sector embracing it with their own hard money — with all of the companies I mentioned saying, ‘This is good for us, this helps us attract workers, this is good for Raritan,’ and that is a win-win,” McMullin said. “And that’s what we have developed in Raritan with the hard work of all the people I mentioned earlier.”
The project comes as LabCorp prepares to begin a major expansion of its facility in the borough, which is the largest clinical laboratory in the U.S. The company has told state officials it planned to renovate an existing 57,000-square-foot space on Johnson Drive and raze another, while then expanding a nearby facility on 1st Avenue by 109,000 square feet.
Bill Haas, senior vice president of LabCorp’s Northeast division, said he was excited about the living opportunities for employees that will come from the opening of the Crossings at Raritan. He conceded that 1st Avenue will soon experience “some growing pains” as construction ramps up for both projects, but said the disruptions would prove to be worthwhile because of the positive impact that will result.
“We’ll work together on those things and be good partners and help cornerstone project like the Crossings, like LabCorp’s expansion, which are going to be so important for the future of this community and allow them to be really successful,” Haas said. “So we’re all in.”