Rowan Boulevard rising


Marriott and mixed-use building on pace for September opening.

The pace of construction is rapid as Rowan Boulevard takes shape, its buildings rising over Glassboro and transforming both downtown and the University.

The Boulevard, already anchored by a Barnes & Noble Collegiate Superstore, two luxury student apartment towers and the mixed-use Whitney Center, will soon feature a Courtyard by Marriott hotel and conference center and another mixed-use building.

Dubbed E1 during construction, the second mixed-use building will be the new home for Rowan's College of Graduate and Continuing Education and will feature first floor retail space and a multi-level parking garage.

Just north of the Barnes & Noble, the E1 and Marriott sites are awash in activity as workers pour concrete, set steel and nail framing into place.

"The foundations are poured, the stair towers are up and wall framing has begun," said Bill Noonan, project manager for Kinsley Construction of York, Pa., builder of the new Marriott.

Noonan said the hotel is on pace to meet or beat earlier predictions for a September grand opening.

Upon completion, he said, the hotel will offer 129 guest rooms, roughly 4,000 square feet of meeting space and a restaurant with S-shaped bar.

Across from the Marriott site, the gleaming Whitney Center, which opened in 2011, is attracting new retail tenants to join Prime, a burger restaurant, and Green Zebra, which serves lighter fare like salads, wraps and soups. Four incoming Whitney Center businesses include Forever Young Emporium, a clothing and gift seller from Haddonfield, Sun National Bank, Yapple Frozen Yogurt shop, and Ry's @ Rowan, an extension of the popular Ry's Bagels restaurant in the Doubletree Shopping Plaza.

"People are really getting excited and there's a lot of interest in becoming part of Rowan Boulevard," said Borough Administrator Joseph A. Brigandi Jr. "We're seeing interest in both the Whitney Center and the new mixed-use building."

A $300 million investment, Rowan Boulevard is the largest active municipal redevelopment project in the state. In a unique public-private-public partnership, Rowan joined with Kinsley, SORA Development of Towson, Md., and the borough, to do something really big – create the quintessential college town.

In addition to construction along the 1/3 mile long Rowan Boulevard at the northern end, near Route 322, demolition at the southern end near High Street has cleared space for a Town Square area. Nearby, Glassboro this year will host a series of eight large-scale events featuring live entertainment, family activities, local food favorites, beer and wine. Events include the Vintage South Jersey Wine Festival in May, Summerfest Glassboro in July, the St. Anthony's Italian Festival in September, and the Craft Beer Festival in October.

Rowan President Ali Houshmand said with every new benchmark along the Boulevard, Rowan and the borough grow closer.

"There is a symbiotic relationship between Rowan and the Borough of Glassboro," Dr. Houshmand said. "As we expand and improve, so does the borough and vice versa."

In addition to development of Rowan Boulevard, the University in the past year opened Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden and was designated New Jersey's second comprehensive public research university. This year it is incorporating the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and is partnering with Rutgers-Camden in a new College of Health Sciences.

Ry's Bagels owner Ryan Calabrese said his store, run by his father as Don's Bagels since 1989, has always been popular with the Rowan community.

"Our clientele is primarily Rowan students," Calabrese said. "With the new location we'll be in the heart of our clientele."

Calabrese said the new shop, expected to open this spring, will offer a café vibe, expansive coffee menu, and a variety of breakfast and lunch bagel sandwiches.

Though seating isn't finalized, Ry's @ Rowan will have bar-style window seating and outdoor dining when it's warm out.

"We've been looking to get out there for some time," Calabrese said. "Once Rowan Boulevard is finished it will be a great attraction, not just for Rowan but the whole community."