A new vision for campus
Plans for a “Campus Town” development that could add shops, eateries, a health club, and residential space to TCNJ’s campus are moving ahead. Discover how different the campus could look in just a few years.
A plan to develop a “Campus Town” that mixes commercial and residential space on TCNJ’s campus is moving ahead thanks to recent legislation that allows a private firm to assume all financial obligations associated with the project.
The proposed Campus Town development could add a wealth of amenities—including shops, eateries, and a health club—as well as student apartments to an eight-acre tract along the western side of campus. The intent is to create a vibrant, hub of activity that appeals to prospective students and also benefits current students, faculty, staff, and local residents, said Curt Heuring, vice president for facilities management, construction, and campus safety.
Although plans are still in the preliminary stages, Heuring said Campus Town could add in excess of 100,000 square feet of retail space and feature multiple restaurants as well as a café, bookstore, health club, drugstore, specialty shops, professional offices, and more. The development could also add approximately 325 beds in 125,000 square feet of apartment-style residences for members of TCNJ’s community.
The idea of creating a mixed-use development on campus has been discussed by TCNJ administrators for years, Heuring said. However, the passage last summer of legislation that allows public institutions of higher education to partner with private entities for the development of college/university-owned land has refocused and re-energized TCNJ’s efforts.
That legislation, enacted as part of the New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act of 2009, enables TCNJ to lease part of its land to a private developer who in turn agrees to build facilities that benefit the College’s operations or mission. Over the next 30 years the developer would collect rent from tenants while paying TCNJ a ground lease, Heuring said. At the end of that 30-year period, the developer would cede control and ownership of Campus Town to the College.
While the legislation stipulates that the College cannot put any money toward construction or development, TCNJ would have a say in what types of businesses are permitted, Heuring explained.
Jones, Lang, LaSalle, a commercial real estate services firm, recently completed a feasibility study, which among other things identified the area just south of the campus’s main entrance, along Rt. 31, as the ideal location for such a development. The firm previously worked on similar initiatives for the University of Pennsylvania, The Ohio State University, Franklin and Marshall College, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. “TCNJ was very intent on getting the best professional advice about implementing this project due to its significance to the College and Ewing communities,” said Heuring.
TCNJ is now trying to attract developers to a project that Heuring said could cost $65–$90 million to build. In the coming months, the College will solicit and review proposals from qualified firms. Once a proposal is selected, the firm will submit an application to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which must approve the project prior to any construction starting.
Heuring is hopeful the College can have its application submitted as early as next spring. If it does, and it’s approved, Heuring said construction could be underway as early as summer 2011 and completed by summer 2013, although he cautioned that would be a “best-case scenario.”
“We’re hoping that market forces work to our advantage,” Heuring added. “There’s really an untapped market here—students, faculty, and staff plus the local community—that would allow a smart developer to put together a package of amenities and services that might make a nice profit for them and for [the College].”
Posted on August 19, 2010