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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on March 8, 2000. All rights reserved.
Brandywine Realty and George Sowa
As an office market, Princeton Pike is bubbling. Matrix is trying
to convince RCN to build big at the former Union Camp site, Brandywine
Realty Trust has just opened a flagship building on Lenox Drive, and
a real estate investment trust, Praedium, has just bought another
of the buildings on Lenox Drive.
Brandywine’s Building 5 at 2000 Lenox Drive is the first Class A development
in Lawrenceville in years, says George Sowa, Brandywine’s regional
vice president. It is the first of three buildings that have been
approved for that corner of Lenox Drive. "With the migration of
Merrill Lynch over in Hopewell, and the Union Camp site potentially
serving as a corporate headquarters, we see continued migration further
south off of Route 1," says Sowa. He cites figures showing that
70 percent of Princeton area workers live in Bucks County or southern
New Jersey. These workers will not have to cross Route 1, he claims,
because the new building has a cafeteria and fitness center, and two
more cafeterias and a fitness center are available in the older buildings.
Sowa came to Brandywine Realty Trust in April, 1998, just after Brandywine
had bought 1 million square foot from the DKM portfolio. Sowa grew
up in Bordentown, the son of an electronics store owner, and went
to Cornell, Class of ’82, then worked for Linpro.
Rothe Johnson, a Piscataway-based firm, designed a look for Building
5 that is different from the first four buildings here. The three-story
structure has a partial brick exterior and "ribbon windows,"
windows that wrap around the building. One view overlooks a cornfield,
at least for now, and the two-story atrium lobby has a granite floor
and wood wainscoting.
"It’s a wonderful class A building equal in status to anything
going up on Alexander Road or Carnegie Center," says Tom Romano,
the leasing agent for Buschman Partners. He quotes rents at $28.50
per square foot, plus tenant electric, which is $2 to $3 below those
in the central Princeton market on Alexander Road. With Peterson’s
taking 65,000 square feet, 50,000 feet remain. (Peterson’s publishing
company should not be confused with Peterson Worldwide LLC, a legal
services firm that also has offices on Lenox Drive.)
Brandywine is a full service REIT (real estate investment trust) with
management, leasing and development capabilities, and owns 270 properties
with 19 million square feet. When it bought a good part of the portfolio
amassed by DKM, it also acquired the Capital Center at 33 West State
Street, Trenton, and 104 Windsor Center in East Windsor, plus three
of the four existing buildings on Lenox Drive.
The one building in this group that Brandywine does not own, Building
1, was until recently owned by State Farm. It has such tenants as
KPMG, American Express, Integrated Communications Corp., and EDS.
The buyer was another REIT, Praedium, and earlier this year Praedium
had purchased 1060 State Road, also a State Farm property, currently
occupied by Roper Starch (formerly Response Analysis) and Princeton
Softech (Softech plans an early move-out to University Square on Alexander
Road). Craig Eisenhart of Insignia ESG handled the portfolio for State
As for the fate of the Union Camp site, Matrix Development Group enlisted
the help of Hillier Group architects to draw up plans to present last
week; these efforts yielded preliminary approvals for an RCN headquarters
(U.S. 1, February 23). But King Interests is still focused on the
Atchley tract site in Ewing and has been successful in getting neighbor
support. No site is ahead of any other at this point, says RCN’s attorney,
Building Four, Suite 106, Lawrenceville 08648. George D. Sowa,
vice president for central and southern New Jersey. 609-895-9595;
fax, 609-895-9899. Home page: http://www.brandywinerealty.com.
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