Princeton HealthCare starting hospital construction in N.J.

Aug. 26, 2008
$442 million hospital coming to Plainsboro, N.J.

PLAINSBORO - It was a big mess, but a happy mess for officials from Princeton HealthCare System last week when they began tearing down the old FMC Corp. site at Plainsboro Road and Route 1 to make way for a $442 million hospital that will be built on the site.

"It's business as usual," Mayor Pete Cantu said of the messy demolition work.

The 636,000-square-foot hospital will replace Princeton HealthCare's University Medical Center at Princeton in Princeton Borough with a state-of-the-art facility that would be located in a larger, more easily accessible site.

Construction of the 243-bed facility is expected to take three years.

Five interconnected buildings on the FMC site will be torn down, according to Pam Hersh, Princeton HealthCare's vice president for government and business affairs. But the building most associated with FMC - Building No. 2 - will not be demolished, she said. FMC will continue operations from that building.

The demolition should be finished in September, and grading and clearing of the site will begin in early October, Hersh said. Concrete will be poured in February and buildings will go up starting in May.

Princeton HealthCare received site plan approval from Plainsboro last month for the hospital and an adjoining 120,000-square-foot medical office building.

"Everything is going fine," Cantu said of the progress.

The hospital and medical office building will occupy part of a 50-acre parcel created along Route 1 between Plainsboro Road and Scudders Mill Road, about three miles from the University Medical Center's current location in Princeton.

The 269-room hospital will house a new skilled-nursing facility to replace Princeton HealthCare's Merwick Care Center in Princeton Borough, as well as a continuing care retirement community, fitness center, medical office buildings and office research space.

The hospital's cost has ballooned to $442 million in recent months - more than 25 percent more than the $350 million Princeton HealthCare was anticipating last year, when it received state health department approval for the facility. The $442 million is more than 10 percent higher than the $400 million revised estimate Princeton HealthCare was using in mid-February.

Delays in getting the project under way and inflation account for 90 percent of the increase, officials have said.

The hospital is slated to open by summer 2011. The University Medical Center at Princeton will close and its site on Witherspoon Street will be remade into a mostly residential development.