Truly groundbreaking


All new Marriott Hotel and Conference Center coming to Rowan Boulevard!

In most places, the groundbreaking for a major construction project would be as rare as a four-leaf clover.

But not along Rowan Boulevard.

On Rowan Boulevard, the unique, mixed-use, public-private partnership that is connecting Rowan with downtown and transforming Glassboro, there have been two major groundbreakings within the last month alone.

A Sept. 10 ceremony marked the start of construction on a massive new building that will house Rowan's College of Graduate and Continuing Education, shopping, office space, and a multi-level parking garage.

Exactly four weeks later – on Oct. 10 – another ceremony signaled the start of construction on a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel and Conference Center – Glassboro's first new hotel in decades. Expected to open by September 2013, the 129-room Marriott will feature 4,000 square feet of conference and meeting space, a liquor license and restaurant.

Prior to the groundbreaking, speakers ranging from Rowan President Ali Houshmand to U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews to New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney said the partnership in this $300 million renewal project – the largest in the state – is testament to what can be achieved when public and private entities work together.

"It's another wonderful day not just for our institution but for this community and, dare I say, the nation," President Houshmand said. "This is a model for other communities to follow."

Announced in 2008, the Boulevard project is a 1/3-mile corridor designed to drive reinvestment in Glassboro's historic downtown by linking Rowan's main campus with the retail hub along Main and High streets.

All of the buildings along the Boulevard, even those leased by the University for housing or class space, are privately held and create revenue to help offset the local tax rate. Completed construction includes two multi-level apartment complexes, the mixed-use Whitney Center, with ground floor retail space and upper level housing, and a Barnes & Noble Collegiate Superstore. More than 1,100 students now live on Rowan Boulevard, a project built to serve them, and their purchasing power will help support it.

The Borough of Glassboro projects that upon completion Rowan Boulevard will include some 185,000 square feet of retail space, 40,000 square feet of office space and 307,000 square feet of residential space and that the Boulevard will boost the local economy by more than $48 million annually.

Borough Administrator Joseph Brigandi Jr., who with Rowan Vice President Emeritus Thomas Gallia and other University and borough leaders have worked on the project for more than a decade, described the most recent groundbreaking as momentous.

"One of the things Tom Gallia has always said is if we're going to do this thing right we need a hotel," Brigandi said. "Well, we're getting one, and it's going to anchor the Boulevard, make downtown Glassboro a destination and drive economic activity."

Ribbon cutting photo by Randi Wolf