From left: Eric Carney, Monmouth Medical Center and MMC Southern Campus CEO and president; Mary Anne Nagy, chair, MMC Board of Trustees; Bill Arnold, executive vice president and president of the Southern Region, RWJBarnabas Health, and CEO and president of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, took part in a ceremony commemorating the hospital’s purchase of 36 acres at Fort Monmouth, the future home of the Vogel Medical Campus. — Courtesy: RWJBarnabas Health
By Joshua Burd
The state has completed its sale of a 36-acre parcel at Fort Monmouth — the onetime home of a Cold War-era research complex — where plans call for a long-awaited, sprawling health care campus to be operated by Monmouth Medical Center.
According to the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, the project’s first phase will include a roughly 138,000-square-foot cancer center and ambulatory care pavilion with oncology services, imaging, radiation and an ambulatory surgery center. Construction is slated to begin in 2023, pending all necessary approvals, following Monmouth Medical Center Inc.’s purchase of the property on Dec. 16.
The parcel is located at Corregidor Road and Pearl Harbor Avenue, in the Tinton Falls section of the historic former U.S. Army base. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
“This state-of-the-art project will provide expanded access to exceptional care and offer important health education and wellness services for the entire community,” FMERA Executive Director Kara Kopach said. “MMC’s decision to offer world-class cancer care in Tinton Falls is game-changing. Not only will residents benefit from convenient access to critical services, health care providers and their support professionals will also reap the benefits of increased job opportunities in the region.”
The purchase by the hospital and its parent organization, RWJBarnabas Health, comes more than five years after FMERA began to market what’s known as Parcel F-1. The property was the longtime site of the 750,000-square-foot Myer Center and the Night Vision Lab, a distinctive hexagonal structure that housed the Army’s Electronics Command, but the age, size and construction of the building led to limited interest initially.
In 2017, the state Economic Development Authority agreed to acquire the parcel from FMERA to fund the abatement and demolition of the massive facility, recognizing the increased marketability and redevelopment potential of a vacant parcel, the agency said. That prompted an unsolicited offer from RWJBH to buy the site and the creation of an agreement involving the EDA, FMERA and the hospital system, in which FMERA became the property’s designated redeveloper.
In a separate announcement, RWJBH said the outpatient facility will be dubbed the Vogel Medical Campus, made possible by a historic $50 million gift to MMC from local philanthropists Sheldon and the late Anne Vogel. While the facility will have same-day surgery, advanced diagnostic imaging and on-site specialty physician offices, the cornerstone is a comprehensive cancer center in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.
All services will be provided in a park-like setting designed to promote a healing environment by embracing the natural landscape with green vistas and outdoor seating and walking areas.
“We are excited to take ownership of the property and begin the process of constructing a truly incredible facility,” said Eric Carney, CEO and president of MMC and Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus. “The Vogel Medical Campus will enable us to further our mission to deliver truly outstanding care to our community. As an expansion of the MMC campuses in Long Branch and Lakewood, the Vogel Medical Campus is located within the communities we currently serve and will be designed to meet the unique needs of our diverse and growing community now and in the future.”
The project’s first phase is slated to create more than 300 jobs and represent an investment of $153.5 million, according to a news release. MMC has an option to build a second phase —contingent on market demand and the needs of the surrounding community — which may include hospital services, clinical and support facilities and a medical office, along with walking trails and publicly accessible open space.
“The Vogel Medical Campus is another example of meeting the healthcare needs of our region in an effective, flexible and sustainable way,” said Bill Arnold, executive vice president and president of RWJBH’s southern region and CEO and president of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. “Our integrated network of inpatient and outpatient facilities, along with our outstanding providers, is ensuring high-quality care now and for generations to come.”
Completion of the second phase would translate to a total of 1,000 jobs generated and a capital investment of more than $650 million for the entire project, the news release said. FMERA noted that, as a result of its long-running effort to reposition the shuttered based, about 86 percent of the Fort’s 1,126 acres have been sold or placed under contract, or is the subject of negotiations or public solicitations.