Downtown Block Being Cleared For Wellness And Aquatic Center

Rendering of Wellness Plaza

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Demolition has begun at Paterson and Jelin streets for construction of the $95.3 million New Brunswick Wellness Plaza, for which a groundbreaking is targeted for early summer.

Plans call for construction of the 62,000-square-foot Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Wellness Center with an aquatic center.

The plaza also would include a 49,000-square-foot supermarket and 1,275 parking spaces, with a pedestrian bridge stretching from the parking deck to the northbound platform of the NJ Transit train station on Albany Street.

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The plaza also will house a downtown supermarket, which will be accessible by the county bus shuttle system that runs throughout the city, according to city officials.

The complex is designed to provide convenience for downtown residents, workers and train commuters, officials said.

Completion of the facility, which will abut the rail overpass on French Street, is targeted for September 2012.

Demolition work has begun with the razing of houses on Jelin Street, which will be replaced by a new street to be called the Kirkpatrick Street extension, stretching to Court Street.

The Wellness Plaza will replace existing, aging structures in a one-block area bordered by French Street, Paterson Street, North Joyce Kilmer and the new Kirkpatrick Street extension.

Slated for demolition is a row of law, medical and business offices along the one-block stretch of Paterson Street. The New Brunswick Parking Authority, which has purchased those properties, is working with tenants on relocation, according to city spokesman Bill Bray.

The project is expected to create 675 construction jobs and 720 permanent jobs, Bray said of the latest piece of the city’s redevelopment initiatives.

Permanent jobs will include everything from fitness trainers to property and equipment maintenance workers at the wellness center, from store clerks to managers at the grocery store.

“The redevelopment projects put people to work,” Bray said, noting the city’s unemployment rate remains below the state and national averages.

The supermarket will be operated by The Fresh Grocer, city officials said.

“It’s exciting to see work begin on a project that will produce hundreds of new jobs and provide the people of New Brunswick with its first new supermarket in decades,” Mayor Jim Cahill said.

The project is being built by the New Brunswick Development Corp. (Devco), which currently is completing construction of the Gateway Transit Village at Easton Avenue and Somerset Street.

The $142-million, 632,000-square-foot Gateway project is being completed in phases, with a 657-space parking garage expected to be completed by the fall.

Gateway includes 57,000 square feet of office space, 57,000 square-feet of retail, most of which will house a Barnes & Noble-Rutgers University super bookstore, and a pedestrian link to the NJ Transit train platform.

Completion of the Gateway project is targeted for April 2012, according to Bray.

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