Campus Town focuses on enhancing appeal

A large construction site and a visually unappealing green fence stand at the entrance of the College — perhaps a turn-off for prospective students and faculty. But what is eventually to come has the possibility to enhance the appeal of the College in new ways.

A simulation photo projecting part of plans for Campus Town site. (campustown.pages.tcnj.edu)

“The College has long considered the idea of developing mixed-use amenities for students, faculty and staff near the College,” said David Muha, associate vice president for Communications, Marketing & Brand Management.

According to Muha, there are many goals for the Campus Town project.

“The main goal was not to improve relationships with the Ewing community, although that is one of the expected objectives,” Muha said.

Rather, the goals of the $70 million project are to enhance the appeal of the College to prospective students, faculty and staff, create an environment that is both exciting and vibrant and sensitive to the surrounding local community, and enhance the appearance of the College’s entrance.

The College also hopes to create partnerships with local and regional entities, including Ewing Township.

Although the College did look at other university development projects similar to Campus Town, the project was not based off of another school.

“The idea for Campus Town was not based on any one project at any one school. Instead, we were focused on creating a project that addressed the unique requirements and objectives of TCNJ and the local community,” Muha said.

The anchor store in Campus Town will be Barnes & Noble, Muha said, and the College will operate a health and fitness facility within the development. At this point in the project, the developer has signed letters of intent with a sushi store, yogurt store, sandwich shop and a convenience store. However, the College is unable to release the names of the stores at this point in the process, Muha said.

Negotiations are underway with several other restaurants, a phone/technology store and other retailers.

Given the College’s main goals for the site, many wonder how the new development, as well as the additional housing, will affect admissions.

“We are very excited in Admissions for the completion of Campus Town,” said Erin Barnard, admissions counselor for freshmen & transfer student recruitment. “It’s a great way to connect our campus community with our larger community and we think that’s something that potential students could really be attracted to.”

In fact, she has already spoken with prospective students who are very interested in learning about what Campus Town has to offer.

“In my conversations with potential students, many of them seem to respond very positively when we tell them about the plans for Campus Town,” Barnard said. “For a student who has visited and really loved the campus, they hear about this project and it helps them picture themselves here. I think it certainly has the potential to draw in applications.”

Campus Town will bring an additional 446 beds to the College. According to Muha, it is a bit too early to know exactly how housing will work. If Campus Town draws students who currently live off campus, it might not affect on-campus housing. But if Campus Town draws students from traditional on-campus residence halls, residence hall assignments may change to better suit students at the College.

“The bottom line is that Campus Town provides a new and unique addition to the housing options available to upper-class students,” Muha said. “This gives the College flexibility to adjust its own residence hall programs to meet long-term needs.”

However, the added number of beds will not affect the number of students accepted to the College.

“No large-scale growth in enrollment is anticipated due to Campus Town,” Barnard said.

Construction is expected to begin on footings and foundations once permits are received, which could be as early as December, Muha said. Above-ground construction is expected to start in February or March of 2014 and construction is expected to be completed by fall of 2015.

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