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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ-The Diocese of Metuchen has retained Tekton Development Corp. to convert the former Convent of St. Peter the Apostle here at 94 Somerset St. into a new Catholic Center at Rutgers University.

The former convent, which faces the historic lawn of Rutgers University and the Old Queens campus, will become the Campus Ministry office of the Diocese of Metuchen at Rutgers University.

The $3.8-million project will involve a total renovation of the approximately 16,000-square-foot building, which is attached to Saint Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church. With its brownstone walls, arched windows, decorative woodwork and steeply pitched multi-gabled roof, the building is a typical example of the American Gothic Revival style of architecture of the mid-nineteenth century.

One of the biggest challenges is the building’s age, with parts dating back to the early 1800s, Brendan Murray, president of New Brunswick-based Tekton Development, tells GlobeSt.com. “The main structure was built in 1868 and additions were then made in 1897,” he says, adding that the historic façade of the structure will be preserved.

The facility will include a chapel, offices, a library, meeting rooms, a dining room, a living room and a kitchen, according to the Diocese. The chapel’s stained glass windows will be removed and cleaned, and its floors and pews will be restored. Part of the receiving hall and the main staircase will also be restored. In addition, the convent’s grassy courtyard will be renovated for uses such as studying or picnics.

Tekton is serving as both construction manager and general contractor for the project–a system that allows the owner to save money by involving the general contractor from the earliest stages of the project. “In this model–known as open book general contracting–the construction manager accepts bids from subcontractors, with all information and proposals being shared with all parties on an open-book basis,” Murray says. “This type of delivery system possesses the advantages of the design-bid-build system in that the CMC holds the contracts, thus sparing the owner the administrative burden of dealing with multiple contracts with each of the trades, which might mean as many as 10 or 15 contracts,” he says. In this system, the owner is also privy to the contents of the bids, and is spared the added expense of hiring both a construction manager and a general contractor.

The convent was vacated in 2004 and work on the renovation began in November. The Catholic Center plans to move from its current home in three buildings at 17 and 29 Mine streets to the new facility in January of 2010. The new facility will provide additional space to serve the spiritual needs of students as well as space for students to socialize.

The renovated convent will also serve as an enhancement to the neighboring Gateway project. The large, high-density mixed-use redevelopment just north of the New Brunswick train station will feature structured parking, a 14-story residence tower, significant street-level retail space including a new Rutgers bookstore and three levels of class A office space, according to Devco, which is redeveloping the site.

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