Planners okay new site for Rutgers Hillel

Planners okay new site for Rutgers Hillel

New Brunswick’s Zoning Board of Adjustment approved plans for a new Rutgers Hillel building at the university campus in New Brunswick.

The June 24 approval of the plan, which revolves around a land swap with the university, means that Hillel’s current College Avenue building will be demolished in one to three months, said Hillel executive director Andrew Getraer.

Hillel will be temporarily relocated to a nearby structure now being used by the university. Ground is expected to be broken on the new building shortly thereafter, and Hillel hopes to move into the new facility for the start of the 2015 academic year.

“The construction schedule is still being worked out,” said Getraer.

Hillel is a partner, along with the university, the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and the New Brunswick Redevelopment Corporation (DEVCO), in the $300 million College Avenue Campus Development Project.

The partnership gave Hillel the opportunity to move its planned $18 million new home from the site of a former fraternity house on the corner of Bishop Place and George Street to 70 College Ave., diagonally across from Seminary Place.

The frat house was demolished almost four years ago, with plans to break ground a year later. However, the site remained vacant as fund-raising stalled in a tough economy.

“The university is very excited about the new Hillel property, which is right in the heart of campus,” said Getraer. “We are excited about working so well in partnership with DEVCO, the seminary, and university, which demonstrates the centrality of the Jewish community to the Rutgers community.”

Plans for the new facility include a 400-seat kosher dining hall, prayer space for Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Sephardi communities, a kosher cafe, Israel resource center, classrooms, and a computer lab.

The architectural design is being reconfigured because of the larger size and shape of the College Avenue lot.

“Rutgers is home to the nation’s second-largest Jewish student population and is one of the finest universities in the country,” said Hillel board president Roy Tanzman. “Our state deserves a world-class Hillel, and that is precisely what our new plans will deliver.”

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