A rendering of the new medical office building on Bay Avenue in Glen Ridge and Montclair, across from Mountainside Medical Center — Courtesy: The Hampshire Cos.
By Joshua Burd
A development team has broken ground on a long-awaited medical office building on the border of Montclair and Glen Ridge, with the goal of expanding the footprint and services of the nearby Mountainside Medical Center.
Plans by The Hampshire Cos. and Circle Squared Alternative Investments, the project investment adviser, call for a three-story, 45,375-square-foot building on Bay Avenue just across from the hospital. The new offices will occupy the former site of the hospital’s School of Nursing, as the facility looks to attract and retain doctors and provide a modern setting for obstetrics and gynecology, neurosurgery, cardiology and other specialties.
As part of a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, Hampshire Chairman Jon F. Hanson recalled his first involvement with a medical office building about 25 years ago, when he chaired the real estate committee for what was then Hackensack Medical Center. The project was a learning experience, he said, pointing to one major lesson about the impact of such a facility.
“I think it actually jumpstarted the development of the campus at the Hackensack Medical Center,” said Hanson, the founder of the Morristown-based firm. “And I think it will do the same thing here in Montclair.”
All photos by Hal Brown/Courtesy: The Hampshire Cos.
Hanson, whose firm has now been involved in about 50 medical office buildings, credited Hampshire Principal Don Engels for his role in the Montclair and Glen Ridge project. Designed by NK Architects, the development is several years in the making and is slated to be complete in early 2020.
It is 100 percent preleased to Mountainside Medical Center, a Hackensack Meridian Health facility that the network operates in partnership with Ardent Health Services.
“As the model for delivering health care continues to shift, we recognize that a profound opportunity exists for the development of on-campus state-of-the-art medical office buildings to help health care systems like Hackensack Meridian Health continue to deliver the highest levels of care,” Hanson said. “We are honored to work with the municipal leadership of Glen Ridge and Montclair and our project partners to deliver this medical office building that will enable Mountainside Medical Center to continue to meet the health care needs of the local community.”
Plans call for highly flexible and adaptable medical office units to provide physicians and specialists with spaces that can be conformed to their exact needs. The building is also expected to attract and house specialists in fields such as internal medicine, family medicine, urology, general surgery and pediatric subspecialists from the John M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center, among others.
“It’s a very competitive market for the best doctors and they want first-class, state-of-the-art office space in convenient proximity to the hospital for themselves and their patients. By delivering that, this new building will allow us to attract and retain leading primary care physicians and specialists,” said John Fromhold, CEO of Mountainside Medical Center. “We are thankful to our neighbors and to both the Montclair and Glen Ridge planning boards for providing their valuable input. Our joint efforts have brought about an exciting opportunity for our communities.”
Tuesday’s ceremony also drew Hampshire Vice Chairman Norman Feinstein and Jeff Sica, president and chief investment officer of Circle Squared, along with mayors Robert Jackson and Stuart Jackson of Montclair and Glen Ridge, respectively. Also on hand were Robert C. Garrett and John Lloyd, co-CEOs of Hackensack Meridian Health, plus Ardent Health Services CEO David Vandewater and Frank Fekete, chairman of the Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center joint venture board.
“This medical office building truly has been a lesson in patience and perseverance, but I do think it’s a really important project,” Garrett said, noting that it has been two years since the merger of the two health systems that make up Hackensack Meridian. The network now includes 16 hospitals and 450 different patient care locations, he said, “and this medical office building fits in so well.”
“I think, in this room, we all know that more and more health care is being delivered outside the four walls of the hospital,” Garrett added. “So we’re going to need to really have — as part of a growing health care network — more ambulatory care centers, more medical office buildings that are very convenient, very accessible for patients and their families, but also ones that make health care more affordable because ultimately that’s a very, very big issue in health care today.”
The new medical office building will benefit from a location that is easily accessible from the Garden State Parkway and Interstate 280, along with NJ Transit’s Bay Street and Walnut Street stations. Plans also call for 229 parking spots and entrances on both Bay Avenue and Walnut Crescent.