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Developer officially kicks off $100M reuse plan at Bell Labs site

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A rendering of the interior of the repurposed Bell Labs project.
A rendering of the interior of the repurposed Bell Labs project. - (Courtesy NK Architects)

There was never any doubt that it would take a creative plan to redevelop the colossal Bell Labs complex in Holmdel. And just how that plan could look became clearer today, when the developer overseeing the project unveiled its vision for both preserving and reviving the historic property.

The firm, Lakewood-based Somerset Development, officially kicked off its $100 million adaptive reuse plan for the 2 million-square-foot building, which for decades was home to groundbreaking research by the Bell system. With architectural plans revealed, Somerset plans to now start the long-awaited work on the health and wellness-anchored project at the 427-acre campus on Crawfords Corner Road.

A stacking plan on Somerset's website shows office and medical office space will be installed on five of the building's six levels, while a hotel and assisted living space rise opposite each other on one side of the atrium-connected structure. Plans also call for a mix of retail, education and conference space throughout the building.

Somerset has signed a contract with Bloomfield-based Community Healthcare Associates to fill some 400,000 square feet of medical office space. The firm also is working with Toll Bros. for a portion outside the building that could include up to 40 single-family homes and 185 age-restricted townhomes, along with recreational and open space.

The developer gathered with local officials and others involved with the project this morning to officially launch the project. Published reports said the firm hopes to have its first tenants move in early next year.

Somerset closed on its acquisition late last month for a reported $27 million, following seven years of negotiations and outreach with Holmdel officials and residents. The fate of the property has been uncertain since Bell Labs, which became a piece of Alcatel-Lucent, vacated the building in 2006.

Zucker's firm became poised to take control of the site last month after consummating a redevelopment agreement with Holmdel's governing body.

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Joshua Burd

Joshua Burd

Josh Burd covers real estate, economic development and sports and entertainment. Before joining NJBIZ in 2011, he spent four years as a metro reporter in Central Jersey. His email is joshb@njbiz.com and he is @JoshBurdNJ on Twitter.

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