From left: Rockefeller Group Senior Vice President and Regional Development Officer Clark Machemer; New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett, Florham Park Mayor Mark Taylor, Gov. Chris Christie, Summit Medical Group Chairman and CEO, Jeffrey LeBenger, MD Anderson Cancer Network Vice President of Operations Margaret Row and Cooper University Health Care board Chairman George E. Norcross III. — Courtesy: The Rockefeller Group
By Joshua Burd
The Rockefeller Group has marked another step in its high-profile redevelopment plan in Florham Park — and it’s preparing to celebrate another project less than 20 miles away.
The developer on Tuesday broke ground on a new Summit Medical Group MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Morris County borough. The state-of-the-art, 130,000-square-foot medical facility is the latest building to start construction at The Green at Florham Park, the 268-acre, mixed-use campus that has transformed a former ExxonMobil research complex.
On Wednesday, Rockefeller is slated to cut the ribbon on a new FedEx Ground facility in Wayne. The 163,300-square-foot facility will serve as a regional distribution hub for package sorting and delivery, specifically serving the township and the surrounding area.
For the development firm, both projects are tapping into industries whose real estate needs are changing as the needs of their consumers evolve.
“Both are important,” said Clark Machemer, senior vice president and regional development officer with the Rockefeller Group. “Obviously they’re satisfying different needs, but they’re all critically important to how we’re living.”
The new cancer center in Florham Park is among the most highly anticipated projects in the region this year. On Tuesday, Rockefeller celebrated the groundbreaking with Gov. Chris Christie and other dignitaries, including Florham Park Mayor Mark Taylor, Summit Medical Group CEO Jeff LeBenger and George E. Norcross III, board chairman of Cooper University Health Care.
When complete by spring 2018, the facility will “provide cutting-edge cancer treatment and cancer care to the residents of Morris County,” Machemer said. And it will join other pieces of The Green, including a separate Summit Medical Group office, the New York Jets training complex and the North American headquarters for BASF.
Also under construction is a high-end hotel that Rockefeller is developing in tandem with LodgeWorks Partners L.P., plus a 256-unit AVE corporate housing complex. The latter, a joint venture with Korman Communities, will open next spring and is expected to serve corporations throughout the region.
“That’s what’s unique about The Green,” Machemer said. “When you step back and look at it, the types of uses and the occupants there are impacting people throughout all of New Jersey.”
When Rockefeller joins Wayne Mayor Christopher Vergano and others on Wednesday, the event will celebrate the adaptive reuse of a former Drake’s bakery site on Demarest Drive. The facility was razed to make way for a FedEx hub that will deliver directly to the surrounding area.
“We all hear about last mile and how important that is in the industrial world today,” Machemer said. “This is a last mile facility that is getting goods right to the consumers and companies in the larger Wayne area and 15-mile radius outside.”
Machemer also noted that that only 12 months have passed between the first planning board meeting for the project and the completion of construction. That is a success story on its own, he said, and he will highlight that cooperation during Wednesday’s ceremony.
“For it to be 12 months from the first planning board hearing to completion of construction, in my mind, is almost unheard of in New Jersey,” Machemer said. “I think a lot of that is attributed to Mayor Vergano there, his focus on economic development and making sure that, as Wayne changes, they’re replacing those uses that were there with new tax ratable-producing uses.”