NJEDA awards $271M tax credit for New Brunswick HELIX project

Matthew Fazelpoor//February 9, 2023//

NJEDA awards $271M tax credit for New Brunswick HELIX project

Matthew Fazelpoor//February 9, 2023//

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The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) board approved Feb. 8 the first award under the Aspire Program, $271 million in tax credits toward the development of the New Jersey Health + Life Sciences Exchange (HELIX) in downtown New Brunswick.

The incentives were awarded to NJ Innovation Associates Urban Renewal LLC, an entity of New Brunswick Development Corp. (DEVCO).

Developers and officials say the HELIX will fuse together the state’s public, private and academic sectors to create a world-class hub of innovation as well as a talent base and pipeline to support the state’s burgeoning innovation economy.

Artist rendering of The Hub in New Brunswick
An artist rendering of The Hub in New Brunswick. – OFFICE OF GOV. PHIL MURPHY

This award goes toward the first phase of the HELIX, known as H-1. The $750 million effort entails the construction and development of a 12-story, 573,400-square-foot building with three major components:

  • The New Jersey Innovation HUB, which will offer space for innovation and startups
  • New research laboratories for Rutgers University’s translational research effort
  • A new medical education facility for the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

The project continues the remarkable transformation of downtown New Brunswick. Additional anchor tenants at the HUB will include Rutgers, Hackensack Meridian Health, RWJBarnabas Health, Middlesex County and Princeton University. DEVCO will also have a presence.

“Yesterday’s Board approval represents an important step in our efforts to create jobs and revenue-generating assets in the innovation economy, with a particular focus on high-growth, high-wage strategic sectors,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “The HELIX will bring the state’s corporate, innovation, and higher education communities together and will provide the dual benefit of spurring growth of startups and attracting global companies looking to benefit from a New Jersey location.”

Aspire was designed to serve as a gap financing vehicle to support commercial, industrial, mixed-use and residential real estate development projects in New Jersey, with an emphasis on underserved communities.

The HELIX will be transformative for Rutgers, for New Brunswick, and for the entire state.
— Jonathan Holloway, president, Rutgers

NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said that this project is an example of why the Aspire program was specifically created — to support developments that revitalize downtowns into premier destinations that better serve residents and attract top companies and talent.

“The HELIX, a signature part of Gov. Murphy’s economic plan to recapture New Jersey’s role as a leader in innovation, will foster the growth of startups and new technologies in a range of industries and will benefit entrepreneurs for decades to come,” said Sullivan.

The cutting edge

The project is the state’s largest capital investment in translational research ever.

Sullivan also noted that it leverages New Jersey’s leadership position in the life sciences industry along with competitive advantages, such as our mass transit and world-class universities.

Rutgers has committed to investing $270 million to recruit and retain clinical researchers.

Jonathan Holloway

“The HELIX will be transformative for Rutgers, for New Brunswick, and for the entire state,” said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway. “This visionary project brings together academics, researchers and innovators under a single banner, it will create thousands of good-paying union jobs and will supercharge the innovation economy. Simply put, the HELIX will put New Jersey on the cutting edge of global innovation.”

The $271 million in tax credits will be awarded over 10 years. The NJEDA says the present value of the economic benefit of this project to New Jersey is $340.4 million — 187% of the present value of the tax credit award.

DEVCO has been at the center of New Brunswick’s transformation with a number of signature projects under its belt, overseeing $3.5 billion of redevelopment in the city.

“The creation of H-1 at the HELIX represents a singular opportunity to create a first in class ecosystem to fuel New Jersey’s innovation economy, allowing the state to reclaim its leadership of the American innovation economy,” said DEVCO President Christopher Paladino. “This ecosystem will allow academic translational research to expand its connection to the innovation economy, state-of-the-art medical education to lay the groundwork for a healthier New Jersey, the attraction of more National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding, and the NJ Innovation HUB’s establishment of a collaborative platform where companies will accelerate innovation and commercialization.”

New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill said that New Brunswick has long been on the cutting edge of new initiatives introduced by the state leadership.

“The HELIX project, catapulted by the backing of the Aspire Tax Credit Program, propels this exciting endeavor rapidly forward and sets a new standard for successful economic redevelopment,” said Cahill.