A New Home for Starting Points of Hudson County

January 14, 2014

This past summer, LAN was instrumental in helping Starting Points of Hudson County, an early childhood center in Jersey City, relocate to a new home on short notice. When faced with the dilemma of losing their lease, Starting Points turned to Build with Purpose (BwP), a Metuchen-based non-profit real estate development and consulting firm with a focus on community and economic development, to help them find a new location. Coincidentally, the Archdiocese of Newark was seeking a tenant for the Our Lady of Mercy School which had been closed. The OLM facility seemed to be the perfect fit for Starting Points. However, changing the facility from an Educational use group to a very restrictive I-4 use group for small children unable to self-evacuate necessitated major safety upgrades required for code compliance and licensing.

Having worked with LAN on successful projects in the past, BwP sought our assistance to identify and design the required upgrades, and also to handle environmental screenings and licensing compliance. By the end of June, LAN identified emergent needs, including fire separation doors, barrier-free access, a new domestic hot water heater, emergency lighting and electrical upgrades; but the most critical item involved installation of a new fire sprinkler system on all four levels of the existing building. The sprinkler installation also required digging up the street to upgrade the water service to the building. To expedite the sprinkler work, LAN collaborated directly with Alpha Fire Protection Services of Pennsauken. In less than a month, LAN provided design documents for the remainder of the work and solicited quotes from several local contractors. The project was awarded to C.R. Construction of North Bergen by the end of July.

Time was of the essence, as Starting Points hoped to have their new home up and running by September. To expedite the permitting process, BwP contacted Milrose Consulting who worked diligently to obtain approvals for the project – not an easy task during the summer months when inspectors are on vacation! In addition to construction permits, zoning and water utility approvals were required.

As the sprinkler work proceeded on the upper levels, CR Construction was busy in the basement, installing a new barrier-free ramp and providing hot water to the building. Fire doors, plumbing and electrical retrofits proceeded throughout the building. There were inevitable surprises along the way, such as a concealed steam pipe located in the way of the new ramp access, but through teamwork, the issues were resolved. Work proceeded at a lightning-fast pace. Construction approvals came soon thereafter, and by mid-September, a Certificate of Occupancy was issued. In 90 days from our first meeting with the client to occupancy by 350 small children, we implemented more than a half-million dollars of construction including all permits and child care licensing, environmental clearance and a 100 percent sprinkler retrofit, allowing Starting Points to move into their new home.