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PARSIPPANY, NJ-It’s been in the works for five years, but the State of New Jersey is finally set to start construction on the new Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital on a 300-acre site here. The 430,000-sf complex will replace the existing Greystone Hospital, which was built in the mid-1870s.

State officials say actual construction will start in November, with a projected completion date of March 1, 2008. The proposal to build the replacement facility had its genesis in 2000 during and administration of former Gov. Christie Whitman, and went through a number of political twists and turns before getting to the starting gate.

The final piece of the puzzle fell into place this week, when the New Jersey Economic Development Authority awarded the contract to build the facility to Torcon Construction of Westfield. According to an EDA spokesman, Torcon’s winning bid for the project was the lowest of the three finalists, coming in at $169 million.

The other two bidders were Hunt Construction Corp., which bid just under $175 million, and Bovis Lend Lease, which bid $172 million for the project. Besides having the lowest bid, Torcon has a track record in the healthcare field, with several hospitals to its credit, according to EDA officials.

Once the demolition costs of the existing facility and the design and construction of the new complex are all added up, the project is expected to cost the state somewhere in the vicinity of $190 million, according to the spokesman. Much of the money will come through a bond issue offered by the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Authority. The beneficiary is the New Jersey Department of Human Services, which will operate the new Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital.

According to plans provided by the EDA, the facility will combine the administrative offices, patient-care services and treatment and programs areas in one building instead of multiple locations on the site. It will have a 460-bed capacity, and 60 beds in existing cottages will be retained, bringing the total on-site capacity to 520 beds, according to the spokesman. The move to build the new facility came in the wake of a 2000 report by a court-appointed committee that branded the existing 19th century complex as “unsafe” and “unsanitary.”

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