A new research and educational building will rise there, where a row of shops and a take-out restaurant once lined a busy block near Cooper University Hospital.
Expected to open in 2018, the building is the first phase of work by the Rowan University/Rutgers–Camden Board of Governors to link the two institutions and create a walkable campus downtown, using $50 million in state funding.
The project is an investment in the region’s “eds and meds” economy, which is expected to generate 24,000 jobs in Camden, Burlington and Gloucester counties over the next decade, according to the board’s new report released June 14.
Nearly 40 percent of Camden’s 30,000 jobs come from the education and medical sectors, according to the report.
The 65,000-square-foot structure will serve as a shared research and educational space to train the next generation of health care workers, explained Kris Kolluri, the board’s chief executive officer. The board also hopes the building will attract research-based businesses.
The site is between Rutgers’ new nursing school, now under construction, and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.
Design work is still underway, but will be sensitive to its surroundings, Kolluri said. It will include a cafe and will possibly include a multipurpose space for public use.
“Urban development cannot happen in a manner that essentially locks them away from the neighborhoods,” Kolluri said. “Our absolute effort is to make sure we’re inclusive of the community.”
The corner piece of the building will be lit at night. Dubbed a “lantern,” the focal point will be the “guiding light for higher education and health space and a guiding light for the eds-and-meds corridor,” Kolluri said.
The report noted other universities have led neighborhood revitalization projects, including the University of Pennsylvania in West Philadelphia, and Johns Hopkins University in East Baltimore.