By Joshua Burd
A developer has completed its purchase of a shuttered hospital complex in Plainfield, clearing the way for a redevelopment that calls for a new medical arts complex and 120 apartments.
The buyer, an affiliate of Community Healthcare Associates said last week that a judge had approved the transaction involving the Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center. The firm will now begin work on the site immediately after taking control of it from JFK Health System.
CHA, which is based in Bloomfield, has been interested in redeveloping the property since the hospital closed in 2008. Its $57 million plan calls for luxury apartments and a 186,000-square- foot complex that is home to services such as primary and specialty care, women’s health, an ambulatory surgical center and many more.
“Our top priority is to be a good neighbor,” said Bill Colgan, CHA’s managing partner. “To that end, we will be providing additional information to area residents as to what they should expect to see on the site in the coming months, and we will continue to do what we can to be a true community partner.”
The firm will install perimeter fencing to secure the site during demolition and construction, which is expected to begin later this summer, according to a news release. In total, the project is expected to create 800 jobs, including 200 construction jobs and 600 permanent positions.
The developer has agreed to respect the historical character of the existing hospital and integrate key architectural elements into its adaptive reuse of the facility, the news release said. For the Union County city, the project is a long time coming after Muhlenberg suffered crippling losses tied to rising operating costs and lower reimbursements from insurers.
The hospital closed its doors in summer 2008 despite community protests.
The project will be the fourth shuttered hospital conversion in New Jersey for Community Healthcare Associates. Previous projects include the Barnert Hospital in Paterson, Greenville Hospital in Jersey City and the William B. Kessler Memorial Hospital in Hammonton.
In Plainfield, the residential component will feature a grand lobby, multipurpose rooms, fitness center, business center, bike storage and a rooftop terrace for its 39 one-bedroom and 81 two- bedroom units. The units will feature high-end finishes.
Pursuant to agreements between the city of Plainfield and CHA, the project will generate some $10 million in benefits to the municipality in the form of Community Benefit Payments and a payment in lieu of taxes agreement.
“This facility, which has sat dormant for nearly a decade, is set to once again become a key revenue generator, a source of jobs, as well as a provider of needed community-based health care services, for all of Plainfield,” Colgan said.