NJIT, New Jersey’s science and technology university, is growing not only in faculty and enrollment, but physical size in order to meet the demand for workforce and economic development in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professions.“Following a comprehensive process and significant involvement of members of NJIT’s Greek Community, the Albert Dorman Honors College Board of Visitors, students and staff, NJIT’s College of Architecture and Design and the due diligence of the University administration and Board of Trustees, I am most pleased to announce NJIT will be building the Warren Street Village,” said Kathy Wielkopolski, a member of the NJIT Board of Trustees. At the Feb. 23, 2012 meeting, the NJIT Board of Trustees approved the development of the residential Warren Street Village.
The Village will be a unique, 3-acre mixed-use residential housing complex. When completed in fall of 2013, the 214,000-square-foot complex, bounded by Colden Street to the east, Warren Street to the north and Raymond Boulevard to the southwest, will add 600 beds to NJIT’s existing inventory of residential housing. In addition, the $80-million project will feature a new restaurant, convenience store and fitness center for the University community.
NJIT’s number of residential student housing capacity will then top 2,200 beds, an increase of some 35 percent. To accommodate student demand, NJIT’s housing has been filled to capacity using housing triples in double rooms and leasing off-campus space. These new residences and amenities are timely additions as the university’s enrollment is expected to exceed 10,000 students by fall of 2013.
NJIT President Joel S. Bloom, the founder and former dean of NJIT’s 12-year-old Dorman Honors College, has been a fervent “Village” advocate to enable an expanded learning community for the 685 Honors College students, one of NJIT’s most vibrant and successful student learning communities. The new residential Honors College will include 360 beds, computer labs, project studios, a library, student lounges, student government offices and guest apartments.
The new Greek homes in the Village will include 5 duplex houses for fraternities and sororities. The Greek houses will provide living, dining and chapter space on the first floor, and sleeping quarters on the upper two floors. “Our Greek students are among the most involved student groups on campus. The new housing will offer even more opportunity to hone leadership skills and increase networking and socializing opportunities,” said Bloom. “Greeks and Honors students are typically the two groups on campus most committed to community service. They will be our outstanding Warren Street Village residents.”
Financing for the Warren Street Village will be provided through tax-exempt bonds issued by NJIT to be repaid over the 30-year-term from rental income. It is expected that the bonds will be sold in mid-March.
“We want to see this kind of housing and community development for the building trades jobs and a neighborhood that encourages 24/7 public, bicycle and pedestrian transit, in short just the kind of place where everyone would want to live with the added value of proximity not only to NJIT but three other universities,” said Phil Beachem, a member of the NJIT Board of Trustees and president of the Alliance for Action. “We say it often, but maybe we don’t say it enough: Newark is a college town with over 40,000 students. People want to take advantage of that kind of social, living and learning environment and we aim to help them do it. It’s good for NJIT. It’s good for Newark.”
The NJIT construction project signals the first of four phases to begin the 23-acre Campus Gateway Development Project, a critical component of NJIT’s strategic priorities and the result of a six-year community development planning initiative that was led by NJIT, and actively involved members of the larger neighborhood including the James Street Historic District Association and St. Michael’s Medical Center. “This larger community development effort has not been just NJIT’s plan, but a community plan,” said Bloom.
“To grow enrollment, attract high-achieving students and faculty and sustain a base of private support, we must continue to enhance the quality of campus life, the availability of amenities and services and the physical, social and recreational environment,” said Bloom. “Enhancing the community that surrounds NJIT and campus life is key to NJIT’s growth and prosperity and this is what the Gateway Development Project is all about as well as the Warren Street Village. We want to create places where students, faculty, staff and the community converge to live, work and play.
The Gateway Project will create a, mixed-use neighborhood that fosters a 24/7 life and pedestrian activity, with retail space at street level. “The aim is to improve the quality of life for NJIT and its neighbors, attract new residents, encourage new housing and promote the restoration and adaptive reuse of the district’s historic buildings, wherever possible,” said Bloom.
It focuses on four distinct areas of development. In addition to the Warren Street Village, there will be an “MLK Gateway” section, featuring larger-scale retail and residential offerings and a multi-level parking structure at Orange Street. Restaurants, office and academic space, plus a potential spot for a hotel/conference center will be the hallmarks of the “University Park” section at Central Avenue. The fourth area of development is St. Michael’s Medical Center which is completing a number of improvement projects and is planning for adaptive re-use of the old hospital building.
The Gateway Project was designed to be a public/private partnership where the private sector makes the investment and drives the development. Jones Lang LaSalle was selected by NJIT and the Gateway Project Steering Committee to complete the Plan and serve as Master Developer.
Speaking about the Gateway Project and noting the start of the first phase, Mayor Cory Booker said “Newark is New Jersey’s top college town and I am ecstatic that the Warren Street Village will bring even more high-quality housing choices, amenities and services to the students, scientists, engineers, and inventors connected to NJIT. This new project represents an impressive commitment by NJIT leadership to the University Heights neighborhood and the City overall. As even more of NJIT’s students and faculty live and study in close proximity to the university, this will create a dynamic community that will pay dividends for Newark in the coming decades.”