Campus terminated ‘with great sadness’

Campus terminated ‘with great sadness’

The last hope that the Jewish Community Campus of Princeton Mercer Bucks in West Windsor could be revived has been dashed with the official announcement that the project has been terminated.

A statement issued Oct. 24 by campus council president Howard Cohen said the announcement was being made with “great sadness.”

“We all share the disappointment of not bringing to fruition the dream for a central gathering place to serve this region’s Jewish community,” he said. “We are most grateful to those who were passionately devoted to this project for so many years.”

Despite the generosity of donors to the council’s capital campaign, said Cohen, unanticipated project costs and “long-term pledge balances that couldn’t be accelerated” led to a shortfall in funding that ultimately doomed the Clarksville Road project, which would have served as the central location for the core Jewish agencies in the region.

Even with these obstacles, Cohen said, campus leadership worked to get the project back on track, consulting with both community leaders and the lender.

“Unfortunately those efforts have not been successful,” he said. “As a result the deed to the campus property has been turned over to the lender in satisfaction of the outstanding loan amounts due, bringing the project to an end.”

More than 12 years of planning and fund-raising had gone into the approximately $23 million project.

Last year, the project ran into trouble when the campus development council informed the building contractors they were running out of money, prompting the contractors to walk off the job and file lawsuits against multiple entities involved in the campus project. At the time, work was 89 percent complete on the 77,000-square-foot facility.

“We are very fortunate to have a strong Jewish community, with many strong organizations and agencies that provide valuable, necessary services,” said Cohen. “We know that with their support and the overall community’s we will recover from this disappointing event and find new ways to bond together and share our common heritage, beliefs, and aspirations.”

The original plans called for the campus to include the Betty and Milton Katz Jewish Community Center of Princeton Mercer Bucks, the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer, and the Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County.

The center was also designed to house the Jewish Community Center’s Early Childhood Learning Center and Abrams Day Camp, as well as classrooms, meeting rooms, a library, a kosher kitchen and cafe, a fitness facility, and an indoor pool.

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