Officials hold tour of New Jersey State House as multimillion-dollar renovations near completion

A massive renovation project that has kept two governors out of the New Jersey State House is nearing completion.
The nearly $300 million project was initially supposed to be done last year. Work continued through the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a dispute with contractors and structural issues that meant a new foundation had to be dug by hand.
“This is like a new building right now,” says Anthony Faraca, executive director of the New Jersey Building Authority.
The project has taken about six years. Officials say that it came in under budget. They led a tour of the new State House on Wednesday.
“We faced health, life, safety issues in the building, security issues, code issues in the building,” says Chris Chianese, director of the Division of Property Management & Construction.
Former Gov. Chris Christie approved the renovation in 2016. Work began almost immediately.
“We had an assessment done and they were basically saying, tear the building down. That’s how bad a shape it was in,” says Faraca.
The last time News 12 New Jersey visited the State House was in May of 2018. A year of work had been underway, investigating damage and removing asbestos.
Another challenge was the building’s foundation - or lack of one.
“Because it was built so long ago, there was no foundation under the building. We installed approximately 500 underpinning pits, which means we put a foundation under an existing building,” says Faraca.
During the foundation repair work, lasers across the street measured how much the building was settling. If it settled more than a quarter inch, the work had to be redone.
“Many think this was the most important renovation going on in the United States of America at this time,” Chianese says.
Gov. Phil Murphy started working in his State House office for the first time as governor earlier this month. Everything is now up to date.
“Fully fire alarmed building and brought up to code. Everything that we possibly could in the building and keep the historic fabric,” says Faraca.
Officials say that this is what the State House looked like from 1911 to 1930 - down to the precise color of paint in the Rotunda.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, to be on this project,” says Faraca.
Officials estimate improvements like LED lighting will mean a 15-20% savings in utility costs.