On Monday the City of Woodbury and Inspira Health put out a press release announcing their plans for the former “Underwood” hospital property and adjacent lots, which includes demolishing the main hospital building, building a hotel and the Center for Innovation in Community Health
The entire project area is approximately 20 acres across multiple blocks, and is being called “Woodbury Health and Education Innovation District”
The materials I have show that once fully developed the project is projected to create almost $5 Million in property tax revenue. This is significant as much of the current uses as a large Inspira hospital building are likely identified as “non-profit” and have been exempt from property taxes.
While the name sounds very “medical and education” focused it’s actually much more than that.
The full project redevelopment will also feature market rate apartments, convenience and retail stores spaces, and a senior living facility… as well as a brand new hotel and conference center on the prime corner of Broad and Redbank Aves.
While I am a day or two late on my coverage of this news, my coverage here offers the actual renderings presented to Woodbury, and other details not in the press release such as costs, projected timelines and projected property tax revenue.
I’ve actually had the renderings and presentation materials for almost two weeks, and moved slow to get an article online! I almost wonder if my acquiring the renderings were a catalyst for the timing of the press release, ha.
While the full district will feature significant development with seven new buildings, not every existing building is being removed.
Three structures on the south end of the extended properties will remain and be incorporated into the new mixed-use development, including the large parking garage.
This plan presents a solid vision for the redevelopment of the parcels, but the entities and master developer are currently working with individual potential developers for aspects of the project.
The materials I have break out the project timeline into three phases with the new Senior Housing aspect targeted for 2026, a Convenience Retail building for 2026, and the larger aspects of a hotel/conference, research building and market rate housing estimated for 2028. (More on those aspects in the article below)
Based on my own experience covering development, I would think that as each component of the broader project is set for development, the developers would have to seek approval from the Planning and/or Zoning Boards of Woodbury.
It’s important to note that just a few miles away in Deptford, Inspira has another large development underway to convert the an Almonesson Rd building (which was the former home of Dick’s Sporting Goods) into a two-story medical use building. That $30 Million project is expected to be completed in 2024.
As a side note, it’s been a rough September for me as probably half a dozen stories I knew about but I was slow to act on, made it online at other media outlets before me. It’s a gut-crushing feeling for me. I may need to change my gameplan a bit! More on that later.
Woodbury Inspira Press Release
The multi-block redevelopment project has actually already started with the in-process construction of a new $60 million Emergency Room and Behavioral Health Facility on the block immediately north of the old main hospital building.
This is an initial step that was needed to be done to move those two units out of the old hospital building, so that the former hospital could be targeted for redevelopment.
Inspira expects those two units will open in early 2024 which sets the timing for this announcements on the plans for the main hospital property and other surrounding blocks.
The Woodbury Health and Education Innovation District plan seeks to integrate health and economic development by coordinating and integrating investments in clinical and social services, as well as commercial and retail expansion.Inspira and City of Woodbury Press Release – September 25th, 2023
The master developer for the project will by CBRE, who states they are the Nation’s leading healthcare real estate strategic advisory firm. CBRE will be moving the plan forward and holding discussions with potential developers regarding individual components of the innovation district.
The press release also calls out the planned “Eds and Meds” Glassboro-Camden light rail line as a positive aspect which was considered in the design and need.
The Project Design
By my calculations the full project scope includes 20 acres of land across multiple blocks, and will include seven different new building projects. (although the Hotel and the Center for Innovation building are connected at the lower levels and could be counted as one project)
While it’s not specifically called out as such, the entire project feels like a smartly planned walkable village featuring housing, retail/restaurants, education and medical uses… all situated in close proximity to the planned light rail line.
While not mentioned in the press release, other materials I have estimate the full scope of the project to cost as much as $240 million, spread out over three phases:
- Near Term: Satellite ER; $72 Million
- Mid-Term: Senior Housing, Convenience Retail Building; $45-40 Million
- Long Term: Research, Market Rate Housing, Hotel Conference Center; $115-120 Million
It could be argued that the Hotel, Conference Center (with retail) and the Market Rate Housing will be one of the bigger positive impacts towards revitalizing the area as they would bring people into the district, but they are targeted as long term (later in the development cycle)
Likely a big factor in these aspects being later in the project is that the existing massive and decades old hospital building will need to be demolished before the hotel and other “long-term” aspects can be developed.
That demolition effort is a huge project and considering it is a many decades old building, I assume there may be unique considerations to its demolition.
The presentation materials also call out that the long-term aspects may require additional partnerships and public/private investment to make that portion of the project development ready.
Near-Term: Satellite ER – Behavioral Health
While the full plan was just announced this week, the “Near Term” efforts are already underway and 42Freeway has been covering that aspect from the beginning.
The current development efforts on the large block immediately north of the hospital include a new two-story building to house the Emergency Room and Behavioral Health units. A second smaller emergency vehicle and dispatch building is also being developed at the rear of the deep block.
Just 3 weeks ago 42Freeway published a construction progress photo update.
Mid-Term: Senior Housing, Convenience Retail Building
As mentioned the existing large covered parking garage at the South end of the district will remain, as will the adjacent brick medical building which sits on the same block.
The covered walkway over Red Bank will remain and connect the hotel and connected buildings to the garage, once those other buildings are developed as part of the long-term plans
For the southernmost parking garage block, the current access road to garage entrance (off of Red Bank) will be relocated to be directly next to the parking garage… this will leave a much larger contiguous development parcel behind the garage.
In that newly created larger space will be two newly developed buildings, one to support “convenience retail” and the other will be used for Senior Living. Both of these are identified in the mid-term development plans with a cost of $45-50 Million.
The new “Convenience Retail” building will sit along Red Bank Ave somewhat next to (behind) that existing brick building which is adjacent to the parling garage. Between these two buildings will be the relocated access road to the parking garage.
An interesting aspect of the convenience retail building is it is presented as a three story building… so it’s not entirely clear to me if just the first floor is targeted as retail or will this become a multi-floor retail building? Or maybe the upper floors will be used for offices?
The new multi-story Senior Living building will be L-Shaped and be developed directly behind the parking garage, along the Woodbury Creek.
The plans also show that the space along the Creek (next to the planned Senior Building) and in to the back corner will be allocated for community gardens and performance spaces.
So it seems to make room for the Senior Living building and the community space, an existing elongated building which runs along the creek (at Tatum) will be demolished.
Two existing buildings in this area along Tatum will remain.
An existing Inspira building at the corner of Red Bank and Tatum (#75) will remain and be included in the district.
A second building on Tatum (#414) also appears to be untouched by this redevelopment. The Inspira renderings do not incorporate this building into the design area at all, which makes me think it is not an Inspira owned property.
Long-Term: Hospital Building Block
With a core portion of this phase sitting along Broad Street, this is likely to be one of the most visually impactful portions of the project.
Additionally, considering the uses are targeted at bring people and consumers into the district via the Hotel, Conference Rooms, Housing and Research.. it likely will be a significant positive economic driver for the district and area.
But these aspects will be targeted for the later phase of the project, and likely for very good reasons.
A key aspect of the overall plan is to demolish the main “Underwood” hospital building, to make room for new development.
The deep single block that the hospital sits on will be split, so that the front portion houses a new six-story Hotel, a separate building for a new Center for Innovation for Community Health, as well as a Conference Center connecting the two buildings.
The hotel will sit at the prime corner of Broad St and Red Bank Ave, and is shown in architectural renderings as a six-story building with the top four floors allocated to hotel rooms.
The first floor of the hotel building will feature retail and restaurant uses, perfect for a walkable village experience. The second floor of the hotel buulding will be conference room space.
The conference space will exist in both the hotel building and the Center for Innovation building, connecting the two. It appears that in some areas it will be one floor of conference space and in others, two fllors.
As mentioned earlier, today there is a walkway over top of Red Bank Ave which connects the old hospital building to the parking garage. In the new development that walkway will remain and instead connect the Conference Center, Hotel and Center for Innovation directly to the parking garage.
That’s smart planning as all three new Broad Street building uses will have direct weather protected walking access to the covered parking garage.
The Center for innovation for Community Health at the corner of Broad and Oak is shown as a four-story building which will also feature commercial spaces on the first floor as well as conference areas.
While the Innovation space isn’t clearly explained in the materials I have, it seems it is identified as “Research:
Behind those Broad Street facing new buildings will be another multi-story building to support market-rate housing.
The U-shaped building appears to be designed for apartments.
That deep “former hospital” block will be split in half with a new road (or driveway) separating the Broad Street frontage buildings (hotel) and the market-rate housing building.
Other Small Retail/Offices on Broad, Tatum?
I also noticed in the project materials three smaller edge areas that are identified as “potential future development”
One is at the corner of Broad and Redbank where the parking garage is located
The two others are on the northern block of the district where the new Emergency Room building is currently being developed, the front area along the sidewalk is identified as potential development as well as an open area along Tatum.
Links and Location
Woodbury Health and Education Innovation District
20 Acres in the area of Broad and Redbank
Woodbury New Jersey