The Hub @ New Brunswick Train Station is not officially a part of Rutgers University. But as New Brunswick Development Corp. President Chris Paladino explains it, the project is nothing short of an extension of the state university.
“The biggest driver of this site is the university,” he said. “Eighty percent of the potential tenants we speak to, that’s the main reason they are considering New Brunswick.
“There’s mass transit, there’s the fact that there’s an urban infrastructure that’s proven, there’s the fact there are housing opportunities, but it’s the access to relationships with not just the research that’s going on but access to quality employees that they’re used to hiring that’s bringing them. We’re talking to a lot of tech companies that are used to hiring Rutgers kids.”
Paladino said Devco isn’t the only one doing the recruiting, giving a nod to Rutgers President Robert Barchi.
“We’ve found President Barchi to be a great partner,” he said. “He’ll get on the phone with a CEO and be very convincing. He has an entrepreneurial spirit.”
Paladino, the mastermind behind so many of the upgrades to the city, said the site will house 1.7 million square feet of redeveloped mixed-use space across from the New Brunswick train station.
The project will encompass multiple buildings and include high-rise residential units and promenade at street level.
JLL, led by Dan Loughlin and Scott Lesh, managing directors; Peter Ladas, senior vice president; and Scott Stange, vice president, will make up The Hub’s exclusive marketing team.
Loughlin said getting in at the opening stage will be a plus for tenants.
“Since we are in the early stages of development at The Hub, a prospective tenant can participate in the design and specifications of the buildings,” he said.
And while residential will be a part of the project, Paladino said it is by no means the driver.
“That’s probably the least important, because we have other residential sites in the city,” he said. “If we get some office users or research users, we’ll use that to fill in the retail that we want and then infill it with no more than 200 to 300 residential users.
“We’d like to kick the site off with at least a 300,000- to 400,000-square-foot office building.”
That connection, Paladino said, is key.
“Companies are finding it more difficult to convince employees to work in a Holmdel or a Matawan because there’s nowhere for them to live,” he said. “Or, they’re living in Hoboken or New York City, so commuting from there to here makes sense.”
The goal, Paladino said, is to make The Hub the center of it all.
“The Hub will become the region’s most exciting 24/7 mixed-use neighborhood, right in the heart of downtown New Brunswick,” he said. “It will be New Jersey’s center for innovation and collaboration — a space where patent-pending technology is a daily occurrence.”
The ultimate goal? Follow the blueprint that has worked so well in Boston with Harvard.
“I’m totally willing to become Kendall Square Light,” he said.