Bell Labs undergoes $200M renovation into 'metroburb'
- New Jersey-based Somerset Development is underway with a $200 million renovation of Bell Labs, which will see the historic former AT&T research and development facility transformed into a walkable, mixed-use, urban "metroburb," according to Fast Company.
- The re-purposed Bell Works development will feature glass where laboratory walls once stood, security-protected offices on upper levels, a rooftop hotel, a basement conference center and a ballroom. It also will include a public "main street" on the ground floor that will include a food hall, daycare center, fitness studio, salon and library, and an urban-style park with trees and benches.
- The town of Holmdel, where the development is located, rejected plans for a large residential component at Bell Works but will allow Somerset Development to build 40 luxury homes and 185 condominiums around the periphery. Despite lack of mass transportation options for commuters, the property is 70% leased.
New Urbanism proponents advocate for dense communities, even if they are plopped down in the middle of suburbia. While $200 million is a significant investment, other developers are planning metroburbs on massive scales.
Developer Jerry Wolkoff is getting closer to building the $4 billion Heartland Town Square in Islip, New York. The Suffolk County Planning Commission approved the first phase, which features 3,000 apartments, 400,000 square feet of retail and 300,000 square feet of office space. It eventually will include more than 9,000 apartments, 1 million square feet of retail and 3 million square feet of offices.
However projects of this scale often are met with resistance. The project is being challenged by the Brentwood, New York, school district, which claims that it does not have the resources to absorb the additional 7,000 to 8,000 students that will come from the Heartland development. Wolkoff has argued that the actual number of new students entering the Brentwood school system would be fewer than 2,000.
Meanwhile, North American Properties is still ushering the $2.5 billion Riverton mixed-use project through the necessary approvals. The 5-million-square-foot development on the Raritan River in Sayreville, New Jersey, would be the largest mixed-use project in the state, according to North American Properties, and one of the biggest brownfield remediation efforts. On the former site of a lead paint factory, the project will include retail and office space, hotels, parks and a marina.
- Fast Company Can We Create A New Kind Of Downtown In Abandoned Suburban Offices?
- Building Design + Construction Rezoning, innovative investor enabling development of a “metroburb” in New Jersey
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