With eye toward attracting major corporate tenant, Devco, SJP announce 2nd phase of HELIX

H-2 will be 600K sq. ft. build-to-suit lab and office space that aims to have 1-3 life science, technology tenants

Officials from New Brunswick Development Corp. and SJP Properties on Monday are announcing a partnership to develop H-2, the second phase of the $731 million HELIX, the dynamic innovation hub that Devco is creating in New Brunswick.

They hope to soon make a bigger announcement: a primary tenant.

Devco President Chris Paladino said they are pursuing a number of companies to take large portions of the 600,000-square-foot build-to-suit lab and office space.

Paladino said the building will be an ideal location for large corporate life sciences and technology company tenants seeking access to both research and startups. The building figures to house two or three major companies.

HDR has been appointed as the lead architect for H-2 and JLL will serve as the building’s leasing agent. Paladino said he is hopeful that construction can begin in 2024 and be finished in 2026.

H-2 is seen as complementary piece to the already announced H-1 building (which will include the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, a Rutgers University translational research facility equipped with a variety of labs to advance the work of 80 research teams, and a number of hospital and university partners). The proposed H-3 will be a mixed-use building that will include five floors of office space for smaller companies as well as 37 floors (and 220 units) of housing.

“We are establishing the only ecosystem in the county where academic researchers, private sector researchers, entrepreneurs, medical students and educators will co-locate in an environment of discovery and collaboration — where creative collisions can occur,” Paladino said.

Steve Pozycki, CEO of SJP Properties, said the HELIX site, formally known as the Health + Life Science Exchange, will meet a growing demand for modern lab and innovation space as the state’s life sciences sector accelerates.

“New Jersey is one of the most important regions in the country for the life sciences industry, with New Brunswick emerging as a hotbed for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in recent years,” he said.

“As more innovators enter the region, the location of their research and development facilities will be of paramount importance. With a prime position directly across the street from two major rail lines and situated within commuting distance of both New York City and Philadelphia, HELIX will provide exceptional access to workforce talent, enabling its future tenants to attract professionals from both cities’ life sciences and technology industries.”

Its location is everything.

HELIX will be next to the New Brunswick train station, which is in line for a $49 million renovation, and near the headquarters and regional offices of several major health, pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, including those of Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb and Ascendia Pharmaceuticals.

And, in addition to being immediately adjacent to the Rutgers University campus, HELIX is within an hour’s drive of several other prominent colleges and universities, including Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.

JLL Vice Chairman Dan Loughlin said it’s a perfect situation for companies looking to attract talent.

“The unique combination of Northeast Corridor train service, Big 10 college-town atmosphere and the expanding presence of New Jersey’s most prominent higher education, corporate and health care stakeholders make the HELIX project incredibly attractive for innovation and talent recruitment,” he said.

H-1, the first phase of HELIX, is currently under construction.

It will comprise 574,000 square feet that includes the New Jersey Innovation HUB, the new home of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and a Rutgers translational research facility equipped with a variety of labs to advance the work of 80 research teams and put into practice Rutgers Health innovations that will improve individual and public health.

Core partners for the New Jersey Innovation HUB include the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, RWJBarnabas Health, Hackensack Meridian Health, Middlesex County, Rutgers University, Tel Aviv University and Atlantic Technological University of Galway, Ireland.

Rising two stories in height, H-1’s ground floor will feature amenities and kiosks that will be accessible to the public, including a 10,000-square-foot market hall with food options and a 3,000-square-foot restaurant that opens onto a 70-foot-wide plaza.

HELIX is part of the narrative of New Brunswick becoming the state’s leading transit-oriented innovation cluster.

New Brunswick has experienced an influx of public and private real estate investment totaling nearly $3 billion for in-progress developments — with an additional $1 billion in the pipeline.

For more than 30 years, Devco has been the catalyst for redevelopment capitalized by academic, public and private investments that include the Rutgers Honors College, Gateway Transit Village, the Jack & Sheryl Morris Cancer Center, New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, Wellness Plaza and the Heldrich Hotel & Conference Center.