NEW BRUNSWICK — They're already calling it historic.

With plenty of fanfare featuring political and business leaders from across New Jersey, partners on Thursday broke ground on what will end up being a 550,000 square-foot center for innovation, research, and medical education in the downtown area of New Brunswick.

Major names such as Hackensack Meridian Health and RWJBarnabas Health will eventually fill some space at the New Jersey Innovation and Technology Hub, and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is relocating to the site. The first tenants are scheduled to be Princeton University and the economic development organization Choose NJ.

"We recognize the potential of the Hub site with its central location right here in the heart of New Jersey, directly across from the city's train station, on the most traveled rail line in the United States," New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill said during a groundbreaking ceremony.

The project represents a $665 million investment in the areas of innovation, translational research, and medical education. From the original vision a few years ago, the project was expanded to include the medical school and the Rutgers Translational Research facility.

The Hub will include wet and dry laboratory space, collaborative office, studio and workspace, and conference facilities, along with amenities for workers such as a ground floor market hall and café.

"Arguably no other research center will have such fire power in a single space, a space where innovative startup leaders will be able to literally walk down a hall and consult with researchers and clinicians in real time," Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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