EDA approves three public-private projects on NJCU campus, one at Campus Town

Joshua Burd//September 10, 2015//

EDA approves three public-private projects on NJCU campus, one at Campus Town

Joshua Burd//September 10, 2015//

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The state Economic Development Authority has cleared the way for developers to bring more than 600 housing units and a major retail project to the west side of Jersey City over the next several years.The projects, slated for New Jersey City University’s campus, were approved Thursday by the EDA as part of the school’s $400 million West Campus redevelopment initiative. NJCU is partnering with the developers under the state’s Higher Education Public Private Partnership Program, with an eye toward transforming the neighborhood around the college while upgrading its own facilities.

The proposals approved Thursday include 330 market-rate apartments, 21,250 square feet of commercial space and 243 structured parking spaces, according to the EDA. The two-phase, $97 million project is being built by Claremont Construction Group Inc., with construction slated to begin next spring on the first of two six-story buildings on Stegman Boulevard.

The second project approved by the EDA calls for KKF University Enterprises LLC to build 301 apartments, more than 11,000 square feet of commercial space and another 303 parking spaces. The $83 million project is expected to begin in spring 2017, in order to allow it to be phased in with the Claremont project and stagger the introduction of new housing on the NJCU campus.

The third project, to be built by the Crossroads Cos., calls for a 62,000-square-foot ShopRite and a 37,500-square-foot LA Fitness at Route 440, Mallory West Street and Stegman Boulevard, according to the EDA. The $58 million proposal also includes an 8,000-square-foot restaurant, six rooftop tennis courts and 600 structured parking spaces, with construction slated to be complete within 20 months.

All told, the NJCU projects are estimated to generate 1,250 construction jobs and 400 permanent jobs, according to EDA memos. And those plans are in addition to a new 425-bed residence hall that’s already under construction by the developer RISE, which is slated to open ahead of the fall 2016 semester.

The applications were approved Thursday under a 2009 law allowing state colleges and universities to partner with developers for projects on state-owned land. The public-private partnership, or P3, program has allowed schools to create new facilities without taking on the risk of construction and financing, while providing a new business opportunity for private-sector builders.

For NJCU, the three projects approved Thursday will mean revenue of more than $150 million over 50 years from ground leases with the developers and other sources, according to EDA documents.

Institutions and developers had until Aug. 1 to submit projects to the EDA. The deadline has twice been extended as a result of action by lawmakers and Gov. Chris Christie, but recent attempts to extend it again have stalled in Trenton.

For instance, last month, Christie conditionally vetoed a bill that would have extended the deadline by five years, citing concerns over provisions that would effectively require union labor.

That’s despite the fact that the program enjoys broad support in the state, with advocates pointing to success stories at several colleges. Most recently, The College of New Jersey and PRC Group opened the first phase of Campus Town, a $120 million mixed-use project meant to upgrade the student housing and retail offerings for the Ewing-based school and area residents.

The first phase includes seven buildings housing 446 beds for students and more than 82,000 square feet of retail space. The second phase of Campus Town, which also was approved at Thursday’s EDA meeting, calls for two more buildings with 166 beds and a separate site that could house a 2,400-square-foot retail structure.