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JERSEY CITY-New York City-based Metrovest Equities has largely wrapped up the design phase for conversion of the 22-story, 255,000-sf Murdoch Hall on the former campus of the Jersey City Medical Center into condos, and has set a tentative date for the construction phase. That step, launching early next year with completion in 2010, will turn the building, renamed the Paramount, into 208 residential units with a full-floor basement gym. Plans also call for retention of an existing art deco theater.

The Paramount is part of the second phase of Metrovest’s conversion of the former medical center’s 10 buildings and two million sf into mixed uses, collectively called the Beacon. Metrovest got the nod for the project, expected to cost $350 million, from the Jersey City EDC in late 2003 and began the long-term planning a year later after the medical center was completely relocated to a new campus here.

The Paramount was the last of the medical center buildings to be completed, and like the others, all built during the Great Depression, features art deco design. It features terrazzo floors, marble lobbies, terra-cotta engravings and glass and brass railings, and its lobby has seen the shooting of a number of movie scenes. One of its primary uses was as nurses’ quarters.

“There is a tremendous amount of detail involved in preserving the art deco design throughout the building,” says Lloyd Rosenberg, president and CEO of DMR Architects of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, whose firm did the redesign work for the Paramount. “Metrovest has created a work of art at the Beacon. It’s really a beautiful complex and building, and an extraordinary historical undertaking.”

Phase one, “which is nearly sold out,” says a Metrovest spokesman, involved the conversion of three buildings into the renamed Mercury, Capitol and Rialto buildings. As reported by GlobeSt.com, the two-story, 3,200-sf condo on top of the Capitol building sold in early 2007 for a local record price for a high-rise residential unit at $2.3 million.

At build-out, the campus’ 10 buildings will be turned into a total of 1,200 residential units. Also part of the plan are 80,000 sf of retail professional center and a 25,000-sf Club Aqua fitness center. Details of the build-out of the remaining half-dozen buildings haven’t been released.

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