Undaunted by the prospect of construction on the Scudders Falls bridge, Craig Guers has bought the Atchley tract for his firm, Opus East, and will start development next month. The tract, located in Ewing just off I-95, previously was owned by Bloomberg and had been considered as a new location for its operations now based on Route 518 in Montgomery Township.
Guers also happens to be the buyer who rescued Crossroads Corporate Center from unleased oblivion. The building had stood empty for six years at the intersection of I-95/295 and Route 1 (see page 16) when Guers, who at that time represented Leggett McCall, decided that south of Princeton would be the next hot area. Taking the advice of Aubrey Haines, he bought the building in 1996 for Leggett McCall, and the first tenants moved in the following year.
Guers has followed Haines’ lead again, this time to buy land from Bloomberg for Opus East, his current firm. Jay Biggins of Nassau Street-based Stadtmauer Bailkin Biggins was a consultant to Bloomberg, which sold the property directly to Opus East.
Opus East has already signed its first tenant, for the first 110,000 square-foot building, and though Guers cannot reveal the name of the company, he is optimistic about finding tenants for a total of 750,000 square feet.
“Crossroads Corporate Center leased up very quickly,” claims Guers, who believes that “southern Princeton,” the area around I-95/295, is “the path of progress.” For instance, a survey of the Crossroads Corporate Center workers showed that 65 percent of them live in Bucks County.
Guers exemplifies his beliefs: He moved from West Windsor to Burlington County when he went to work for a Philadelphia-based firm. Haines also lives in that area, and he has his real estate business, Mercer Oak Realty, in Burlington.
Bert Steinmann, a councilman in Ewing Township who also sits on the planning board, says that the new owners will cluster the buildings together more closely than under the Bloomberg plan, and there will be fewer people working there than under the Bloomberg plan, which called for 1 million square feet.
Steinmann also reports that Bloomberg bought the tract for under $14 million and sold it for more than $21 million, but that Bloomberg invested time and money to get the property ready. For instance, the state department of transportation has agreed to put in a traffic signal on Route 31.
Opus East plans to start construction on the road system next month. Though there is talk of a hotel and restaurants, they are not in the original design. Guers has not yet made an appearance before Ewing’s planning board, but he hopes to finish the first building on the Atchley tract by the end of next year or the beginning of 2008.
The Atchley family had owned a farm that was bifurcated by the construction of I-95. To get to the office park, workers will take Exit 4 from I-95, turn on Route 31, and turn at the planned traffic light into the complex.
“When the first part is built out, it will bring $2 to $3 million a year in taxes, and the full project will bring in $12 to 13 million,” says Steinmann. “It is very exciting for the township.”
Opus East, says Guers, is a merchant builder that buys, develops, and leases projects “and then we sell them to a cadre of investors with whom we have longstanding relationships.” Family owned, it was founded in Minneapolis in the early 1950s. Guers’ initial project for the recently-opened Philadelphia office were Turnpike Crossing, 1.2 million square feet of warehouses on Davidson’s Mill Road at Exit 8A, which was sold to Allianz.
Guers claims that the current traffic backups at the Scudder’s Falls bridge, which can extend for 1 1/2 to two miles, are less onerous than the bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic on Route 1. He is not really worried about the delays that could result from the planned bridge-widening construction. Says Guers: “If the property is for sale, I can’t say to Bloomberg, ‘Why don’t you wait three years?’ I will take my chances with the bridge.”
— Barbara Fox
Real Estate Moves
Community Associations Institute (CAI), 1675 Whitehorse-Mercerville Road, Suite 206, Mercerville 08619; 609-588-0030; fax, 609-588-0040. Curt S. Macysyn, executive vice president. Home page: www.cainj.com
After 26 years at Parkway Corporate Center in West Trenton, the New Jersey chapter of Community Associations Institute expanded to 1,700 square feet in Mercerville.
A national nonprofit organization, CAI provides its members with information on community association management and operation and best practices. It also offers classes and networking forums for professionals, managers, service providers, board members, and home owners.
Feller & Feller Appraisers & Realtors, 78 Route 31 North, Pennington 08534; 609-737-8115; fax, 609-737-8823. Harry Feller, president.
Audrey and Harry Feller put their 1,800 square foot building on the market but continue to operate out of a home office in Hopewell. Their daughters (Sharon and Susan Feller) have a branch of the business in Point Pleasant.
“I’m hoping the building doesn’t sell,” claims Audrey Feller, who priced the property at $490,000. “We have been in business 40 years and we don’t need to sell it. We worked seven days a week, but we enjoy it. We’ll always be doing something.”
Lighthouse Business Group Inc., 143 Dorchester Road, East Windsor 08520; 609-915-3491. Peter C. Haas Jr., Home page: www.lighthousebg.com
After six months on State Road, Peter C. Haas Jr. moved his loan firm, the Lighthouse Group, from State Road to East Windsor. The telephone did not change. A 1969 graduate of the New York Institute of Technology, he spent most of his career in banking with First Fidelity, now called Wachovia. Other offices of the Lighthouse Group are in upstate New York and Connecticut. He makes real estate, equipment leasing, and business loans.
dotPhoto.com, 800 Silvia Street, American Enterprise at Ewing, Ewing 08628; 609-434-0340; fax, 609-434-0344. Glenn Paul, founder. Home page: www.dotphoto.com
Two Princeton venture capital firms, the Edison Venture Fund and Sycamore Ventures doubled their investment in dotPhoto by contributing to a $3.5 million second round of funding. Also contributing to the fund was Ivan Ruzic, current president and CEO at dotPhoto. Two new vice presidents, Jiren N. Parikh and Fred King, relaunched both the professional photo-sharing website and a portfolio of photo-sharing applications for the global wireless industry.
The 20-year-old Edison Venture Fund, based on Lenox Drive, has $450 million under management www.edisonventure.com). Vaughn Drive-based Sycamore Ventures was founded by former Citicorp investors in 1995 and manages more than $550 million.
Broadbeam Corp. (former Nettech Systems), 2540 Route 130, Suite 116, Cranbury 08512-3510; 609-655-3737; fax, 609-655-1282. Janet L. Boudris, CEO. Home page: www.broadbeam.com
Broadbeam Corp, a middleware software firm for the mobile workforce, has been bought for an undisclosed sum by a provider of mobile data software, MobileAware Ltd. The buyer is based in Dublin, Ireland.
Broadbeam was founded as Nettech Systems by Boris Fridman, who is now associated with Outland Technology. Broadbeam’s customers include Bell South, Pepsi Bottling and TNT Express.
Among the investors in Broadbeam were Early Stage Partners and Allegra Partners. MobileAware is backed by Bank of America, Intel Capital, and AIB Equity. Cross Atlantic Capital Partners owned shares in both firms.
Karen Reed, 48, on May 3. She worked in the Advanced Placement program at Educational Testing Service on Rosedale Road.