PHOTO: Alexander Gorlin, Principal, Alexander Gorlin Architecture, Senator Joe Kyrillos, Ralph Zucker, President, Somerset Development, and Holmdel Mayor Patrick Impreveduto
Adaptive Reuse Development Will Transform Two-Million SF Architectural Gem into Dynamic, Mixed-Use Town Center
Holmdel, N.J. — Following more than six years of collaborative efforts to identify a solution for the future of one of the country’s most celebrated architecturally and historically significant buildings, executives from Somerset Development were joined yesterday by state and local officials to kickoff the approximately $100 million redevelopment of the iconic former Bell Labs facility in Holmdel, N.J.
Designed by world-renowned modernist architect Eero Saarinen, the complex met the needs of the Bell Laboratories division of Bell Telephone, later known as AT&T, Lucent, and today, Alcatel-Lucent. Constructed between 1959 and 1982, the facility is revered for its architectural distinction, as well as for the role it played as an incubator for some of the world’s foremost inventions and research concepts.
Somerset Development, which specializes in the creation of award-winning Traditional Neighborhood Design developments, closed on its acquisition of the building and approximately 470 acres surrounding the facility in late August. The company will transform the building into a dynamic, mixed-use town center featuring a pedestrian-friendly public “promenade” created from the building’s existing Atrium. A balanced mix of uses will be incorporated into the building to potentially include supportive retail and shopping and dining options, health and wellness uses, a hotel and conference center, educational facilities, an upscale spa and public facilities.
“This project is a shining example of what can be accomplished when the public and private sectors work together to affect redevelopment that holds the promise of long-term economic advancement,” said New Jersey State Senator Joe Kyrillos. “I applaud Somerset Development and Holmdel Township for their vision to preserve and revitalize this significant facility so that it may continue to serve as both a source of employment growth and pride for New Jersey.”
Holmdel Mayor Patrick Impreveduto stated: “This is a very proud day for Holmdel as we begin to realize the progress we have long awaited on this important redevelopment. By working collaboratively with Somerset Development and engaging the public in this process, we will soon welcome a world-class, live-work-play destination to our community that will not only enhance our Township’s already exceptional quality of life, but will also be an important source of jobs and tax ratables.”
In line with its redevelopment plan for the building, Somerset Development has signed an agreement with Community Health Associates, a healthcare-oriented consulting and real estate development firm, for the sale of up to 400,000 square feet in the building to develop an ambulatory surgery center, doctors’ offices, and assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, among other potential health and wellness-related uses. Somerset is currently marketing the balance of the remaining space in the building for lease and purchase opportunities.
“This is a very special project for Somerset Development, as it is strongly aligned with our passion for creating great places with distinctive character that support the needs of the communities they serve,” stated Ralph Zucker, President of Somerset Development. “The opportunity to breathe new life into an icon of American innovation, while at the same time providing the region with an inspired town center development that brings together a dynamic and complementary mix of uses, is incredibly exciting. We are extremely pleased to launch the next chapter of this significant, historic facility.”
Somerset Development recently selected internationally recognized architecture firm, Alexander Gorlin Architects, to serve as the lead architect for the redevelopment of the former Bell Labs facility. The firm, which specializes in a wide range of projects including historically significant, adaptive reuse developments, has been responsible for such notable projects as the addition and renovation of Louis Kahn’s architecturally significant Temple Beth El in Chappaqua, N.Y., in addition to having served as the master planner of the Mott Haven Campus in the Bronx. The firm has designed approximately 400 townhomes, as well as a number of New Urbanist communities across the United States. Recognized as an expert on modernist architecture, the firm's founder and principal, Alexander Gorlin, has taught at the Yale School of Architecture.
Alexander Gorlin Architects will oversee the execution of programming, re-branding and restoration for the former Bell Labs building’s public and common area spaces, as well as directing a guild of architecture firms, to include Morristown, N.J.-based NK Architects and Princeton, N.J.-based Joshua Zinder Architecture, for the build out of tenant spaces within the building.
“This is one of the most significant architectural landmarks of the last century and we intend to restore and enhance the building to its former glory," stated Gorlin. "Bringing it into the 21st century and beyond, the former Bell Labs will become a new center not only for Holmdel, but as a regional destination for culture, retail, art, and wellness."
In addition to the redevelopment of the former Bell Labs facility, the approved plan for the site allows for residential, recreational and open space uses outside the building, including the development of up to 40 single-family homes and 185 age-restricted townhomes, as well as a field house for sports and an 18-hole golf course. Toll Brothers, the country’s leading developer of luxury residential communities, is in contract with Somerset for the purchase of land outside the building to construct the development’s residential component.
Somerset Development has established a strong track record in the development of large-scale, mixed-use communities. The company is the master developer for Wesmont Station, a 70-acre, mixed-use transit-oriented redevelopment in Wood-Ridge, N.J., which is currently under construction and will be anchored by a brand new NJTRANSIT train station. Somerset Development also recently received conditional and final site plan approval for the redevelopment of the former Anchor Glass factory site in Aberdeen, N.J., comprising 50 acres that will be redeveloped into a mix of 500 residential units, 75,000 square feet of retail space and nearly nine acres of open space.