GLASSBORO — Borough officials and construction workers paused for an hour on Tuesday afternoon for a “topping off” ceremony at 220 Rowan Boulevard. The ceremony marked the completion of the building’s steel frame and the beginning of the next phase of construction.
More than 70 builders lined the edges of the unfinished building as a ceremonial I-beam festooned with an American flag was lifted by crane to the top floor of the six-storey building. The 316,500 square-foot building will include retail space, medical offices and apartments for both private residents and students, with 20,000 square feet devoted to retail and 27,000 square feet for medical services. Medical services, provided by a joint agreement between Inspira Health Network and Cooper Hospital, will include urgent, primary, specialty and orthopedic care.
Completion is slated for July 2015. Officials say the project will bring 400 temporary construction jobs and 100 new permanent jobs to town.
“Glassboro is poised to be an economic engine for the entire region,” said Mayor Leo McCabe at a short event attended by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, senator Donald Norcross, Freeholder Heather Simmons and Inspira Health Network Executive Vice President Eileen Cardille. “As Rowan goes, so goes Glassboro. We are creating the quintessential college town.”
University President Ali Houshmand noted the connection between the growth of Rowan University and the economic borough. Rowan’s student body has increased from 9,000 students seven years ago to 15,000 this fall.
“Today is another indication that a collective dream is coming true,” he said. “We’re making jobs and enhancing the quality of life in this great town.”
Freeholder Heather Simmons, county economic development liaison and former Glassboro resident, remembered the beginning of the project.
“I lived around the corner for a long time and there was literally nothing there,” she said. “A lot of abandoned properties and rental properties.”
Nexus Properties, the company building the structure, got $22 million in tax breaks spread out over the course of 10 years for the project. The incentive comes from the Grow New Jersey Program, which falls under the state Economic Opportunity Act of 2013.
“Glassboro had simply aged out of being a place where people wanted to come and spend money. We used to say, how does the north get everything?” said state Senator Fred Madden, referring to infrastructure projects around the state. “It’s an awesome opportunity for the region.”
Sweeney talked about the decade-long course of the project, from a vague vision to its state of near-completion.
“We can think back a little bit about Glassboro, and no one could’ve envisioned this,” he said. “We want the whole state to prosper, but we want people to remember we’re here.”