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Exclusive: New Jersey Hospital Seeks to Buy Fort Monmouth Site

RWJBarnabas Health Planning to Locate Comprehensive Health Campus in Tinton Falls Should Land Sale Happen
June 13, 2018
RJWBarnabas has made an offer to purchase a 36-acre site in Tinton Falls, NJ. Part of Fort Monmouth, the parcel includes the roughly 700,000-square-foot Myer Center, which will be demolished.

RWJBarnabas Health Inc., New Jersey’s largest hospital chain, is in the process of acquiring a roughly 36-acre parcel at Fort Monmouth in Tinton Falls, NJ, to build a large health campus, state officials said Tuesday.

The healthcare provider's proposal for the site includes an ambulatory-care center, a medical-office building, a cancer institute for the New Jersey Cancer Center, a system/business office and space for future medical and health facilities, according to Tim Lizura, president and chief operating officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).

The land that RWJBarnabas would redevelop is part of a 1,126-acre site under the control of the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, which oversees redevelopment of the former U.S. Army base, which spans parts of Eatontown, Tinton Falls and Oceanport, NJ.

The particular site that RWJBarnabas wants is in Tinton Falls, and includes the former fort’s Myer Center and its former Night Vision Lab, Lizura said. He spoke at the EDA’s June meeting on Tuesday, which was held at the Fort Monmouth authority’s headquarters in Oceanport, NJ. Both agencies are partnering to foster redevelopment of the fort, which was closed in October 2011.

At the gathering, Lizura said that RWJBarnabas made an unsolicited offer in February to acquire the Myer Center area, located at the intersection of Corregidor and Pearl Harbor Roads.

RWJBarnabas owns Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, NJ, also in Monmouth County. The facility has been serving residents for over 125 years, Carrie Cristello, a spokeswoman for the hospital group, said in an email.

"Several months ago, a robust ambulatory expansion plan was developed in order to better meet the needs of our patients who live in the western part of the county but still within close proximity to our existing facility," she said. "Since then, [Monmouth Medical Center] began evaluating real estate options. At this time, several parcels of land are being considered based on availability. Once plans are finalized and approved, further details will be provided."

Once RWJBarnabas gets a site plan approved, "It will allow for hundreds of millions of dollars to be invested," according to Lizura, who added that, "Just the first phase is in excess of $100 million. We couldn’t be more excited. It’s a large project that will create a lot of construction activity."

At its meeting, the EDA signed off on an agreement to assign the purchase and sale rights for the Myer Center parcel, which it owns, to the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority and RWJBarnabas. The property needs major demolition and remediation work before it can be redeveloped, Lizura said.

RWJBarnabas said it would pay for a price not to exceed more than $8 million for the Fort Monmouth site, according to Lizura. That is almost the cost to demolish the 700,000-square-foot Myer Center structures, remediate the property, remove asbestos and make other improvements, according to the EDA. The estimate for that work is $7.3 million, Lizura said.

Under the deal for the Myer Center site, the hospital chain will compensate the EDA for its out-of-pocket costs for the demolition and remediation work, plus 5 percent, to a cap of $8 million.

Once the remediation is done, RWJBarnabas will have the right to purchase the property, clean and demolished, for just one dollar, he said.

"That purchase contract is basically a dollar purchase contract," Lizura said, adding that the site’s appraised value is less than the cost to perform the demolition.

The Myer Center buildings are four and five stories tall, totaling roughly 670,000 square feet, according to Fort Monmouth’s website. There is also a single-story building at the site, with about 44,000 square feet.

Several officials from the fort authority - Executive Director Bruce Steadman; Dave Nuse, deputy executive director and director of real estate development; and Kara Kopach, real estate development manager - gave the EDA an update on the status of Fort Monmouth.

The 20-year plan for Fort Monmouth includes supporting the growth of a technology cluster, as well as creating 1,585 housing units, 500,000 square feet of retail space, 2 million square feet of office and research space and 300,000 square feet for nonprofit, government and civic use.

Linda Moss, Northern New Jersey Market Reporter  CoStar Group   
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