Regional & Community Planning Achievement Award:
Christopher J. Paladino, DEVCO for the Gateway Project
For the many successes during his seventeen year tenure as President of the New Brunswick Development Corporation (Devco), Chris Paladino is credited with much of the redevelopment in New Brunswick. Under Chris’s leadership, Devco has gone from its humble financial circumstances in 1994 to an organization that has completed $1.6 billion in development projects and is the owner/operator of 1.2 million square feet of real estate.
Mr. Paladino is motivated to make things happen, and his greatest interest is in projects that solve public policy challenges. One of his most critical talents is his ability to foster meaningful public private partnerships. The contemporary Gateway Transit Village Project and Wellness Plaza are products of this ability. The Gateway Transit Village is located in downtown New Brunswick across from the train station. It is known by planners as aTOD, that is, Transit Oriented Development. The Gateway Transit Village includes 150 apartments, 42 condominiums, 50,000 square feet of office space, and 65,000 square feet of retail space, and a parking garage. A pedestrian skywalk will connect the building both to the existing New Brunswick train station and to the Rutgers campus. The skywalk will include posted train schedules, the ability to buy train tickets, and an opportunity to stop for coffee or shop. The project was financed through various, complicated mechanisms and was the first to receive the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit.
Upon completion of the Gateway project, construction will start on the Wellness Plaza, one block away. Here, Devco is working in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital to create a community-based health and wellness center. The 586,000 square foot building will also include offices and retail space as well as an enclosed skywalk to the train station. The retail space will be the home of The Fresh Grocery – the first full service grocery store in New Brunswick in years. Together, the store and the fitness center will promote a holistic approach to health. The community will be offered free health classes. Membership and monthly fees for New Brunswick residents will be less than a membership at the Y. And all public school third graders will get swimming lessons.
The Gateway Transit Village and Wellness Plaza represent a revitalization of New Jersey’s landscape in a way that allows our state’s citizens to benefit from a sustainable economy and environment based on both resource efficiency and social equity. It is with great enthusiasm that PlanSmart NJ offers Chris Paladino its 2011 Regional and Community Planning Achievement Award in recognition of his skill, talent, and energy in bringing these projects to fruition.