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Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center closed in 2008 despite protests from the community. A satellite emergency department remained, but was relocated to the Kenyon House building on the campus when the owner, previously known as Solaris, sought to clear a 10-acre portion of all but the vacant hospital. It is that tract which has been studied for redevelopment for the past several years. In 2013, JFK Health Systems was promoting a controversial plan to build 600 luxury apartments on the site and the city hired a planning firm to study the tract for other possible uses.
Plaintalker reported in March 2016 on the issuance of a "Request for Proposals" for development of the site. Proposals were due by April 27, 2016. The notice stated, "The City's vision is for the Site to have a health-care focus with a variety of healthcare and complimentary uses to serve the local and regional community, that are contextually consistent with the surrounding neighborhood. The developer will purchase the site from JFK Hospital and enter into a Redevelopment Agreement with the City of Plainfield."
The Planning Board had previously agreed in September 2015 that the site was in need of redevelopment and to recommend a "Non-Condemnation" option to the City Council rather than use of eminent domain.
In his address Wednesday, Mapp said, "When I took office, I made a commitment to work hard to bring redevelopment to the now closed Muhlenberg campus.. We promised that any redevelopment would have a major healthcare component. That was my pledge - that was my commitment.
"I reached out to the CEO of JFK Health Systems built a relationship and was able to make it happen. I’m happy to report that an agreement between the potential developer and JFK has been recently signed. We will continue to work in 2017 to ensure that the site is developed into a state of the art facility with a heavy concentration in healthcare.
"We have Kenyon House where JFK renovated the first floor to house a satellite emergency department. They offer out-patient medical services, diagnostic services, and hospital community outreach programs. This new Emergency Room is actively serving the community."
(Please note he deviated somewhat from the prepared text.)
No doubt the public has many questions, such as whether any housing is involved, as there have been strong objections to having it as a component. The type and scope of the health care component will also be of high interest. Since Muhlenberg closed, people in need of hospital care must go to Somerville, Summit, Edison or even Morristown or New Brunswick. "Doctors' Row" on Park Avenue has cleared out and specialists have become affiliated with health systems in the locations mentioned above. The community will be eager to get more information.