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Two new projects could be economic catalysts for a central New Jersey city

Healthcare Facilities

Two new projects could be economic catalysts for a central New Jersey city

A Cancer Center and Innovation district are under construction and expected to start opening in 2025 in New Brunswick.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | January 7, 2024
Exterior of Jack & Sheryl Morris Cancer Center
The exterior of what will be the Jack & Sheryl Morris Cancer Center, which via skywalk will connect to the Rutgers Cancer Institute. Image: HOK

Early next year, the New Brunswick (N.J.) Development Corporation, in collaboration with RWJBarnabas Health and the Rutgers Cancer Institute, is scheduled to open the Jack & Sheryl Morris Cancer Center, which will be the Garden State’s first National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

This 12-story, 520,000-sf, $750 million project, which broke ground in June 2021 and topped off in November 2022, will be a freestanding building that combines in- and outpatient services with research. A skywalk will connect the Cancer Center to the existing Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

The new building will include 96 inpatient beds on three floors, with one entire floor for surgical services. There will also be 84 infusion bays, 74 exam rooms, and state-of-the-art imaging and diagnostic equipment that includes four linear accelerators. The Cancer Center will offer in- and outpatient radiation oncology services.

More than 100 scientists will have access to 10 research labs within the Cancer Center.

The Cancer Center will be integrated into RWJBarnabas’ “Navigator” program, which allows patients to take a more active part in managing their treatment and longer-term healthcare.

The Building Team for the Cancer Center includes HOK (architect and designer), a joint venture between Jingoli Construction and LF Driscoll (GC), and O’Donnell & Naccarato (SE). As part of this project, RWJBarnabas picked up the $55 million tab to build Blanquita B. Valenti Community School, a three-story elementary school for 800 students that opened last September. Jack Morris, the Cancer Center’s benefactor and namesake, is the founding chairman of RWJBarnabas Health, and with his wife leads Edgewood Properties, a property development and management firm.

An innovation hub in the city’s core


An Innovation district is being built in three phases over four acres. The first phase, scheduled to open next year, will be a 13-story building within which Rutgers University will lease three quarters of the rentable space. Image: SJP Properties

The Morris Cancer Center isn’t the only project that’s positioned to reshape New Brunswick’s reputation, urban landscape, and economy, at a time when this city of 56,400 is only growing marginally and has struggled to maintain its jobs base. After years of languishing as a massive excavation hole, The Health and Life Science Exchange (HELIX NJ), a four-acre innovation district which was co-developed by SJP Properties and the New Brunswick Development Corporation, finally began construction last July and is scheduled to start opening next year.

HELIX’s $650 million first phase, a 13-story 573,400-sf building, will house an Innovation HUB, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (on four floors), and a research facility, as well as retail space, a 10,000-sf market hall, and a 3,000-sf restaurant that opens onto a 70-ft-wide plaza.

Rutgers University, which will occupy three-quarters of HELIX’s first building, has committed $270 million to recruit and retain 80 translational research investigators to work in HELIX.  

HELIX’s $731 million second phase, designed by HDR, will include 600,000 sf of built-to-suit office and lab space. (Last month, Nokia announced plans to move Nokia Bell Labs into HELIX.) Phase 3 will be a mixed-use 42-story building with 220 housing units. Jingoli Construction is HELIX’s general contractor.

HELIX was the first program approved under the New Jersey Economic Development Authority's Aspire tax credit program, which was created by legislation passed in 2020.

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