By Mylin Batipps
Campus Town construction is ahead of schedule and will be completed by fall of next year, according to Greg Lentine, vice president of Planned Residential Communities (PRC) and director of the Campus Town project.
Lentine and the executives of the project provided updates of Campus Town to students of the College on Wednesday, Oct. 8 and 15 in the Education Building. According to Lentine, Campus Town will span over 12 acres and have a total of nine buildings — seven of them being student apartments, one being Panera Bread and the other being a fitness center.
“There has been a lot going on behind the fence,” Lentine said. “We had to demolish 18 buildings, a lot of infrastructure had to be put in, and there was even something in the ground that no one knew was there.”
Campus Town would not be possible without the New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act of 2009, which allowed for a private company like PRC to work with the College to build on state land. According to Lentine, over 150 attorneys have worked to develop a ground lease that both the College and PRC Group would utilize as a guideline for the construction and management of Campus Town.
Although the project has been ongoing for a few years, it has really gained momentum this past spring. Between 6,000 and 10,000 jobs were created throughout the state to help work on putting up the structures for each building, Lentine said.
“For example, some panels were built in South Brunswick,” he said. “So you take the entire crew of people that are out there building them and putting them on flat-back panel trucks — and you bring them over to the site. This is one of the reasons why the project is going so fast.”
Lentine described Campus Town as “off-campus housing located on campus.” In other words, although Campus Town will be a part of the College, it will be managed and operated by a private company. The PRC Group will manage the retail stores in the complex, while Capstone — a national student housing management company — will take over housing operations.
According to Lentine, it’s important to make the distinction that Campus Town is off-campus housing.
“The reason why that’s a big distinction is because if any student or parent calls the College about Campus Town, the College could say, ‘They’re off campus — give them a call directly,’ just like any other house that would be in town,” he said.
If, however, residents of Campus Town have an emergency, they will be able to call Campus Police who will be dispatched to their location — according to Lentine.
Since the availability of leases for students in August, 376 of the 434 total beds in the student apartments have been leased. In addition, 165 out of 300 parking spots for student residents have been taken. According to Melinda Davis, general manager of the Campus Town project, students are responsible for the leases for the full academic year — unless they decide to move out early for any reason.
“If students want to go abroad … if students are graduating early … any reason they want leave before the academic year, we have a waiting list and we can replace them with the person on the waiting list,” Davis said. “If not, they can find someone to take over their lease and they will not be financially responsible.”
According to Lentine, students will have to pay $6,544 per semester for a one-bedroom apartment, $6,003 each for a two-bedroom and $5,462 each for a four-bedroom. Equipped with security, each apartment will be fully furnished and will include a washer, dryer, common area and kitchen.
Retail stores on the ground floor of each apartment building will include Panera Bread, Yummy Sushi, Red Berry Yogurt, Mexican Mariachi, Piccolo Trattoria, Starbucks and Barnes & Noble. Students will be able to use their Get-It points on their IDs for Barnes & Noble only. According to Lentine, negotiations are currently being made with Hair Cuttery and an electronics store. They are in talks with both Verizon and AT&T to see which store should be included.
The fitness center, Lentine added, will be 11,400 square feet and will include a Campus Police substation, along with a few IT offices. While the retail stores will be open to both the College and the public, the fitness center will only be open and free to students.
Sophomore marketing major Derek Carper is impressed with the speedy progress of Campus Town.
“The venue choices are well thought out, and the housing options are much nicer than anything else offered on campus,” Carper said. “I’m really excited to see the new places students will be able to hang out outside of the Student Center and other places (on campus), and of course the new gym is a much needed addition to our campus.”
Until Campus Town unveils its grand opening to the College community and the public next fall, Lentine advises that everyone resists his or her urge to venture behind the big green fence while construction is still taking place.
“It can be a very dangerous site, so we don’t anyone back there,” he said.