Dubbed H-2, the newest phase of HELIX will further revitalize about 4 acres of land in downtown New Brunswick adjacent to Rutgers University and opposite the city’s train station in a continuing effort to transform it into a dynamic innovation district. (SJP Properties rendering)
One of the largest redevelopment efforts in the history of Middlesex County, N.J., is moving forward with its next phase of work as plans have been revealed for the HELIX Health + Life Science Exchange development in New Brunswick.
New York-based SJP Properties, in collaboration with New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), revealed the final design for phase two of the project in late May. Dubbed H-2, the newest phase of HELIX will further revitalize about 4 acres of land in downtown New Brunswick adjacent to Rutgers University and opposite the city's train station in a continuing effort to transform it into a dynamic innovation district.
The two-story ground floor of the first phase is sure to liven up the streetscape, Jersey Digs noted, as it includes a 10,000-sq.-ft. market hall with food options and a 3,000-sq.-ft. restaurant that opens onto a 70-ft.-wide plaza.
With a total cost of $731 million, the three total phases of HELIX represent the largest investment in life sciences and medical education in New Jersey's history.
HDR Inc., headquartered in Omaha, Neb., has been appointed as the lead architect for H-2, while JLL, a commercial real estate firm in Parsippany, will serve as the building's leasing agent.
HELIX Destined to Be a Magnet for Science, Tech Tenants
Jersey Digs reported that the second portion of HELIX is set to include 600,000 sq. ft. of build-to-suit laboratory and office space that can accommodate a range of uses for large corporate life sciences and technology company tenants.
HELIX aims to bring together the power of academia and public and private sector research under one roof and will provide businesses, universities and researchers with the critical space to work, learn and experiment, the online news service said.
"New Jersey is one of the most important regions in the country for the life sciences industry with New Brunswick emerging as a hotbed for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in recent years," said Steve Pozycki, CEO of SJP Properties.
"With a prime position directly across the street from two major rail lines and situated within commuting distance of both New York City and Philadelphia, HELIX will provide exceptional access to workforce talent, enabling its future tenants to attract professionals from both cities' life sciences and technology industries."
H-1, the first phase of HELIX, is currently under construction and consists of a 574,000-sq.-ft. complex set to include the New Jersey Innovation HUB, home of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and a Rutgers translational research facility equipped with a variety of labs to advance the work of 80 research teams and put into practice Rutgers Health innovations that will improve individual and public health, according to a news release from SJP Properties.
The New Jersey Innovation HUB's core partners include the NJ Economic Development Authority, RWJBarnabas Health, Hackensack Meridian Health, Middlesex County, Rutgers University, Tel Aviv University and Atlantic Technological University in Galway, Ireland.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board approved a $271 million tax incentive award under the Aspire program in February to support the development of the project, Jersey Digs noted.
The third and final phase of HELIX, called H-3, is proposed as a 42-story mixed-use building to include additional office space and 220 units of housing.
The first portions of the complex are slated to open in 2025.
New Brunswick a Perfect Location for HELIX
The train station in New Brunswick, due for a $49 million renovation, affords HELIX tenants convenient and easy access to both NJ TRANSIT, running nearly 100 train stops in the city each day, and Amtrak.
Additionally, several major health, pharmaceutical, and life sciences companies have their headquarters and regional offices situated within proximity to HELIX, including those of Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb and Ascendia Pharmaceuticals.
Besides Rutgers, several other colleges and universities are within an hour's drive of the complex, including Princeton, Penn and Columbia.
"The unique combination of Northeast Corridor train service, the Big 10 college town atmosphere [at Rutgers], and the expanding presence of New Jersey's most prominent higher education, corporate and healthcare stakeholders make the HELIX project incredibly attractive for innovation and talent recruitment," said Daniel J. Loughlin, vice chair at JLL.
In recent years, New Brunswick has experienced an influx of public and private real estate investment totaling nearly $3 billion for in-progress developments, SJP Properties noted, with an additional $1 billion in the pipeline.
For more than 30 years, DEVCO has been the catalyst for redevelopment capitalized by academic, public, and private investments that include the Rutgers Honors College, Gateway Transit Village, the Jack & Sheryl Morris Cancer Center, New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, Wellness Plaza and The Heldrich Hotel & Conference Center. These transformative projects have elevated New Brunswick to the state's leading transit-oriented innovation cluster.
"We are establishing the only ecosystem in the county where academic researchers, private sector researchers, entrepreneurs, medical students and educators will co-locate in an environment of discovery and collaboration — where creative collisions can occur," said Christopher Paladino, DEVCO's president.
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