By Briana Vannozzi
“It doesn’t even feel like college. It feels like going out into the real world and buying your own apartment,” said TCNJ Junior Evan Abernethy.
That’s what The College of New Jersey was hoping for. This new campus town project is a $120 million mixed-use development on the Ewing campus. Construction began two years ago and students, parents and neighbors got their first glimpse Wednesday.
“The students who live in the apartments at campus town will be part of an unique community. One that provides an opportunity for them to live independently, study and prepare themselves to enter their professions and communities as leaders and still be very close to academic and social life of the campus proper,” said TCNJ President Barbara Gitenstein.
It’s nearly 400,000 square feet of housing and retail amenities. Students live above stores and restaurants. There are 446 one, two and four-bedroom apartments. All brand new.
“It’s really amazing. All the..the bathroom is really large and everything looks really comfortable,” said Abernethy.
“Here with all the retailers and the shops and the restaurants he doesn’t have to drive anywhere if he doesn’t want to. Everything is accessible right here,” said mom Gina Abernethy.
The credit is being given to a public-private partnership between the college and the developer PRC Group. It’s made possible by the New Jersey economic stimulus act of 2009. It allows private capital to be invested in public institutions and it means the cost isn’t borne by taxpayers or students.
“Up until the time the act was passed there couldn’t be private-public partnerships so you couldn’t build a building like this and not charge it off to the school. Schools today everyone knows higher education is very expensive. The school could afford any more debt, most schools can’t afford any more debt and they cant afford to build beautiful buildings like you see around us. It’s too expensive,” said Lt. Governor Kim Guadgano.
More than 400 jobs are being created. The retailers include Barnes and Noble, Enterprise Car Service, Spencer Savings Bank and several other restaurants and businesses. The mayor of Ewing says tax revenue is projected to be about $37 million over a 20-year period. He’s got hopes for even more long-term results.
“I think once the students come here and realize all of what is available right here in Ewing Township. I’m hoping that they’ll want to actually stay and live in Ewing Township. And raise their families here,” said Mayor Bert Steinmann.
“Huge game changer. My brother is applying to schools right now, so everywhere we go he looks at all the dorms and these are so nice. Not many schools have stuff like this, so this is a huge upgrade,” said Senior Allison Leonard.
A second phase will open next summer including housing for another roughly 200 students.
“Living on campus is really limited. There’s not a lot of places for students to live so that’s why I’m excited,” said Senior Jenna Vitale.
Students are scheduled to start moving in this weekend and the hope is this space won’t just draw them to campus, it’ll keep them here. So far, Barnes and Noble is the only retailer up and running, the rest are scheduled to open throughout the fall.