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FLORHAM PARK, NJ-CoreNetNJ, the New Jersey chapter of CoreNet Global, sponsored a tour Wednesday night of the new Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. The event also included a talk about how the project came together.

Thad Sheeley, chief financial officer of the New York Jets, said that when the team decided to build a new headquarters and training facility back in 2006, it had three goals in mind. It wanted it to be a complex suitable for a major corporation as well as a state-of-the-art medical and training facility and a “graduate school” for football. “The teaching of football,” he said, “has gotten a lot more complex, but the facilities had not caught up.” Accordingly, the center includes 10 classrooms. Further, the architectural firm chosen to design the building–SOM–was experienced in designing educational facilities, Sheeley pointed out.

When configuring the building, Sheeley said the plan was to separate the team’s business functions from the players’ facilities. It was also designed to accommodate receptions and symposiums that could last two to three days, he added. The entrance to the building was designed to mimic a tunnel leading into a football stadium, Sheeley noted.

When selecting a location, Sheeley said the team was looking for a parcel of at least 20 acres, one that was 20 miles from Newark Liberty Airport and the stadium in the Meadowlands and situated within a diverse community. The team found 40 appropriate spots in New Jersey, whittled it down to five finalists, which included locations in Jersey City and West Orange, before settling on the site here, which once housed the research center for Exxon Corp.

The Jets’ center is located within a development known as the Green at Florham Park, which, according to Sheeley, will include a Marriott Renaissance ClubSport Hotel, 400 age-restricted housing units, 870,000 square feet of office space and a medical office building.

Robert F. Barbera, senior vice president, general manager in charge of the New Jersey territory for Hunter Roberts Construction Group, talked about how the actual construction of the project unfolded. Since the site sits on wetlands, DEP approvals had to be obtained before groundbreaking could take place. Construction kicked off in April 2007 on the 223,000-square-foot, two-story facility, which is considerably larger than the team’s former 60,000-sqaure-foot complex at Hofstra University. Barbera echoed Sheeley’s comments about the educational aspects of the project. “We looked at this facility as an educational facility,” he said.

Originally, the completion date was set for November 2008. However, since that would have meant the center would open mid-season, the construction company decided to speed up the process so it would open by the start of the season in September 2008, Barbera said. That forced the contractors to “shrink wrap” the building so that interior work could go on while the exterior of the building was being completed. Another wrinkle in the development process was that three natural turf fields had to grow undisturbed through one winter, Barbera said.

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