The former Myer Center complex at Fort Monmouth — Courtesy: Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority
By Joshua Burd
State officials have approved plans for RWJBarnabas Health to acquire a piece of the landmark Fort Monmouth property, where it will develop a large health campus in place of what is currently a defunct Cold War-era research complex.
Under a deal approved by the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, or FMERA, the state’s largest health system will pay up to $8 million for the 36-acre site in Tinton Falls. The so-called Myer Center parcel is home to a roughly 650,000-square-foot complex that is slated for demolition, paving the way for the new development by RWJBarnabas.
Those plans include an ambulatory care center, a sprawling medical arts and specialty facility and a center for the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, FMERA said. The proposal would bring New Jersey’s largest private employer — a business community heavyweight — into the state’s effort to redevelop the 1,000-acre former military base, which covers parts of Tinton Falls, Oceanport and Eatontown.
An agreement covering the transaction outlines a project that could range between 760,000 and more than 1 million square feet. Other components would include a medical office building and a system business office.
The step by FMERA follows an approval last month by the state Economic Development Authority, which had been tapped to oversee efforts to demolish and reposition the Myer Center parcel. The distinctive, hexagonal complex is the former Communications-Electronics Research and Development Center, a research and engineering building adjacent to the Army’s former Night Vision Lab.
FMERA teamed with the EDA last year after receiving no viable interest in buyers that might reuse the buildings, citing the latter agency’s expertise in redevelopment. In February, RWJBarnabas made an unsolicited offer to buy the Myer Center property.
The hospital network has a major presence throughout New Jersey and a footprint at the Jersey Shore, which includes Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch. State officials have hailed the prospect of bringing the health system to Fort Monmouth, which the federal government closed in 2011 after it had served for more than 90 years as the Army’s hub for developing communications technology, intelligence and reconnaissance services.
The closure dealt a blow to the local economy, but a master-planned redevelopment effort now stands to revitalize the base with millions of square feet of corporate, health care, technology and higher education facilities, along with a host of new residential units, two hotels and more than 200 acres of recreation and open space.