Somerset Development President Ralph Zucker (right) presents a check for nearly $5.2 million to Holmdel Mayor Greg Buontempo as part of the company’s redevelopment agreement for the Bell Works project in the township — Courtesy: Somerset Development
By Joshua Burd
Somerset Development announced that it has provided more than $5 million to the township of Holmdel, fulfilling a redevelopment agreement tied to the acclaimed transformation of the iconic former Bell Labs facility into the 2 million-square-foot, mixed-use Bell Works campus.
The developer is marking the milestone some seven years after embarking on the project, which has required close coordination with local officials who sought to revitalize the former research hub. Located on Crawfords Corner Road, the complex has gone from the country’s largest vacant office building to what is now a mixed-use, indoor community with thousands of daily office workers and a host of retailers and service providers.
Somerset Development President Ralph Zucker and Director of Operations Robert Feinberg celebrated by presenting a check for nearly $5.2 million to Holmdel Mayor Greg Buontempo and Town Administrator Cherron Rountree.
“When we revealed our plans to revitalize the historic Bell Labs building, we were frequently met with skepticism about what many thought was an overly ambitious initiative,” Zucker said. “However, Holmdel Township and its residents ultimately recognized the potential to transform this underutilized building into an economic and cultural asset for generations to come.”
“Though there have been challenges along the way, we continued to work diligently to ensure Bell Works New Jersey was a success, allowing us to fulfill our obligation to Holmdel Township, which will further benefit the community at large.”
Since its opening, Bell Works has completed more than 1 million square feet of commercial leases, filling roughly 90 percent of its office space. The building today is home to more than 70 businesses and welcomes thousands of workers daily, in addition to regular visitors from the surrounding community, to an indoor retail corridor known as The Block at Bell Works.
Those retailers include a gourmet food market, restaurants, café, boutique group fitness studio, a florist, public dental office and jeweler.
“Ralph and his team at Somerset Development carried out a unique vision to turn a vast vacant space into this thriving Metroburb” Buontempo said. “The success of this project has continued to attract economic development to our town, and, with this contribution, is directly benefiting the present and future residents of our community.”
For his part, Feinberg said Bell Works was a true example of public-private cooperation.
“The old adage of ‘it takes a village’ really holds true with regards to the redevelopment of the former Bell Labs facility,” he said. “The Somerset team understood the nuances and challenges in revitalizing the historic property, and together with Holmdel’s support, we were able to deliver on our promise. Today, Bell Works is embraced by the Holmdel community and beyond — a credit to the collective stakeholders’ unwavering dedication to seeing the vision through to reality.”