Levin Management has leased more than 16,000 square feet at Princeton Forrestal Village to four new tenants, including a restaurant chain, a safety deposit box firm, and two retail shops catering to brides. It is negotiating with three additional stores, and it has eight more empty spots, amounting to about 25,000 square feet of retail space.
Ethan Goldsmith, leasing agent for Levin, cites the demographics: 1,800 people work in the Village’s office buildings and 147,000 executives and office staff work within seven miles. He notes that the 12,000 square foot food court (which closed to make room for Koi Spa and CanDo, the upscale fitness center) has been moved to Rockingham Row and attracts from 700 to 800 people per day. He also cites the average household income within a mile of the property as $192,000, and nearly $152,000 within five miles.
Such demographics did not result in success for the first incarnation of the Village, which consisted of retailers found on Park Avenue and Rodeo Drive. The current property managers are not seeking such an upscale shopper, but they have closed the door on the Village’s days as a factory outlet and a discount center.
Levin Management Corporation, the exclusive retail leasing agent for the Village, is based in North Plainfield. It has more than 12 million square feet in more than 80 retail properties in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina.
“In addition to increased wealth, there has been an increase in population since Forrestal Village was first built,” says Goldsmith. “While I think our offerings are upscale in nature, they are not the most expensive in retail. We are not trying to recreate Rodeo Drive. Our goal is to create a unique assortment of retailers, combining local and single-store independent businesses with national tenants that you won’t find everywhere.”
David Silver, Levin’s corporate director of marketing, says that a trio of restaurants (including the Salt Creek Grill and Tre Piani) represents a non-traditional “anchor” for the Village, along with the upscale health club Can Do, and its sister Koi Spa. The last of the trio, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, has leased a 12,000-square-foot site at the Village entrance where the bank used to be. The next nearest restaurants in this chain are in Parsippany and Philadelphia, Silver says.
Charter Private, a private safety deposit box company, has leased 2,331 square feet and hopes to move in in the first quarter of next year. Having obtained preliminary approvals from the state banking regulators, it aims to raise $500,000 from investors by the end of this month and then start to fit out its new space, including private client viewing rooms, on-site digital capture, and asset image archival capability.
The proprietor of New Jersey’s first private, stand-alone safe deposit box company is Jim Medalia, best known for his E-commerce start-up, JustBalls, which sold sports balls over the Internet in the late 1990s. Charter’s architect will be Irene Saprissa Vogelsong of Witherspoon Street-based KSS. Sheila Nall is the interior designer, with design contributions from Medalia’s wife, E-Ping Nie, a partner in the banking enterprise.
Exquisite Bride, owned and operated by Remy Quinones, moved from Sparta to open in 2,800 square feet on Main Street. With a price point of from $1,500 to $8,000 this independent salon carries only bridal dresses — no bridesmaid attire here. Its brands include Riveni, Augusta Jones, Judd Waddell, Cymbeline, Pronovius, Jim Hjelm, and Ulla-maija.
Salvatore Pitts, owner of the Silver Shop, based on Palmer Square, will open an additional shop at Forrestal Village in 1,450 square feet at Fountain Square, across from the Westin hotel. At age 70, this estate silver and fine jewelry store is one of Princeton’s oldest establishments.
As Goldsmith explains his goal, to make the Village a destination center that attracts people from far away, he cites Peddler’s Village, with its unique setting and shops. Forrestal Village may not have the ambience of Peddler’s Village, but it has the advantage of corporate traffic. He points to the restaurants that draw from the corporate market during the week yet are busy on weekends. Says Goldsmith: “We are trying to attract places that you won’t find anywhere.”
— Barbara Fox
Wireless networks will be installed in New York City’s underground subway stations, thanks to the transit authority’s contract with a consortium that includes Dianet Communications, based at Cedar Brook Corporate Center, near Exit 8A in Cranbury.
A two-year pilot project will put the network in six stations, and work on the remaining 201 stations is expected to take four years. New York City Transit expects this network to improve communications in an emergency and allow customers to keep in touch with relatives, coworkers, and officials while waiting for trains.
The subway project had been in the works since last year, but an August 8 rainstorm that shut down the subways and railroads showed how important cell phone access can be. Improving this access was one of the major recommendations made to the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
Dianet Communications designs, finances, builds, manages and maintains share networks for wireless carriers. It has a site in Manhattan but in 2005 it moved its Park Avenue office to 3 Cedar Brook Drive. It has investment from Wexford Capital LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Dianet’s CEO Jerome Bauman, as president and COO of Cablentertainment Inc., had raised $55 million to buy 65 cable systems in seven states. As president of Infopage Inc. he had raised $40 million to buy a public paging company. He has also been a managing partner in a company that bought cellular licenses and was sold for $40 million.
Jeff Just, the president of Dianet, graduated in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in finance from the McIntyre School of Commerce at the University of Virginia in 1987. He has been executive vice president of operations for a chain of 26 restaurants, co-founder of a real estate investment firm with an unusual financing vehicle, and a consultant that negotiated site leases for wireless carriers.
Dianet had gained experience in Manhattan from a previous contract to put cellphone antennas and Internet transmitters on top of lampposts, traffic signals, and highway signs. It is one of four closely-held companies in Transit Wireless LLC. The others are College Point, New York-based Nab Construction Corp.; New York-based Q-Wireless Inc.; and New York-based Transit Technologies LLC.
Dianet’s bid represents at least a minor triumph for cable television in its competition with traditional phone companies for wireless contracts. According to a New York Times article last year, the Dianet/Transit Wireless bid was competing against a consortium of wireless phone companies that included Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile.
In contrast, the Dianet/Transit Wireless bid was supported by G.E. Capital and the Andrew Corporation, a maker of wireless equipment, but the big investor was Time Warner Cable of New York and New Jersey.
Dianet Communications, 3 Cedar Brook Drive, Cedar Brook Corporate Center, Cranbury 08512; 609-655-2856; fax, 609-409-1927. Jeff Just, president. www.dianetcommunications.com.