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JERSEY CITY, NJ-A year ago, the Jersey City Economic Development Corp. picked the New York-based Metrovest Equities from among five contenders to redevelop the soon-to-be-vacant Jersey City Medical Center. Now, company officials have begun to reveal more of what they intend to do with the sprawling 11-building, two million-sf art deco landmark on the Palisade cliffs in this city.

And the price tag for the Beacon, as the project has been dubbed, has risen to $250 million from the initial estimates of $200 million or so. For that amount, beginning next year, Metrovest will turn eight of the complex’s brick and terra cotta buildings into a combination of some 1,200 market-rate residential condos, along with about 100,000 sf of retail, office and community space, according to Metrovest president George Filopoulos.

Also part of the projected mix of uses for the Beacon are be a child care center, a health and fitness center and spa, a rooftop pool, restaurants, a performing arts facility and a museum dedicated to the history of the medical center, according to Filopoulos, who terms it “the largest preservation project of its kind in the nation.” Three low-rise buildings on the 14-acre site will be torn down to make way for an 800-car parking facility.

The on-site museum will indeed project a colorful history of the property, which is on both the state and federal historical registers. Legendary Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague commissioned the construction of the Jersey City Medical Center in the early 1920s. Actual construction began in the mid-’20s, but the facility wasn’t completed until 1941.

The project involves a move by the medical center to newer quarters, and it’s not because the facility outgrew its buildings. Just the opposite, Mayor Hague’s monument was too big, becoming an unsupportable financial burden for the city, according to local officials, ultimately leading to a move to smaller but decidedly more cutting edge facilities in this city’s Downtown area.

Mark D. Lipton Associates and RKT&B, both of New York, are doing the architectural work for the buildings, which range between eight and 22 stories. Initial work will focus on new mechanical systems and restoring the buildings’ facades, which have fallen into disrepair over the years. All of the original art deco flourishes will be preserved, as will the interiors’ neo-renaissance elements, according to Filopoulos.

For Metrovest, which specializes in mixed-use projects and restructuring distressed properties, the Beacon represents a second major incursion into New Jersey’s second largest city in the past few years. Two years ago, the company completed Metropolis Towers, a two-tower, 420-unit, 575,000-sf rental apartment complex on the city’s waterfront.

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