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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the October 9, 2002
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Carnegie Center at 20: Still a Work in Progress
Every time the Carnegie Center wins another national
award, people around Princeton nod their heads and say "We knew
that." It is one of the first, if not the first office campus
where pedestrians rule and cars are relegated to the perimeter. Each
cluster of buildings is imbued with a sense of place, and the
— enhanced by three-dimensional art — delights the eye.
Unlike the Forrestal Center to the north, which was developed by
University, the Carnegie Center was not backed by a deep pocketed
institution, and this may have been its salvation. Unencumbered by
bureaucracy, the Carnegie developers fulfilled their goal of improving
on Forrestal with their overarching master plan that, 20 years later,
is still "in progress." The nearly 600-acre Carnegie Center
property extends roughly from Alexander Road to Meadow Road on both
sides of Route 1, and the latest of its buildings will be another
suites hotel. Yet the financing for this very ambitious plan has had
tumultuous highs and lows, and when the buildings were sold in 1998
for a net profit of 250 percent, not all the investors walked away
The cast of characters begins with Jack Moran, who as vice president
of Princeton University had been responsible for the early development
of the Forrestal Center, and Ray Bowers, of Bowers Construction and
Lewis C. Bowers & Sons. (Moran died in 1983 and Bowers in 1996). Moran
was frustrated with how the Forrestal Center was turning out, and
when he left the university he joined the Bowers companies and Larry
Keller (of Keller Dodds Woodworth on Nassau Street) to buy the first
54-acre parcel for the Carnegie Center. They wanted to launch an
park that was qualitatively superior to Forrestal.
But for most people the Carnegie Center name is associated with the
Landis brothers — Mark Landis, an initial investor; Alan Landis,
the developer; and Micky Landis, who runs the place now for Boston
Properties, the current owner of most of the buildings.
The story of how Bowers and Landis came to be partners is a
tale. In 1979, when Bowers bought the first parcel, he was also
closing on the sale of 10 acres for Carnegie 101 with Scottish & York,
a Canadian insurance company represented by Mark Landis. "I had
called Bob Hillier to ask if he was interested in doing a `build to
suit’ on his property on Alexander Road, but he had referred me to
Ray Bowers," says Landis. "I worked out a deal with Jack and
Ray for us to purchase land for Carnegie 101."
Additional investment was scheduled to come from a group put together
by the William Sword company on Chambers Street but, the story goes,
one of the Sword investors wanted to change the $1 million deal on
Friday before the Monday closing, and Bowers refused. Bill King, who
now has his own construction and development company on Nassau Street,
was working for Bowers then. "We asked Mark Landis if Scottish
& York would like to be the partner. Mark reported that the board
said no, but that he and his brother Alan would step into the deal.
In walked Alan with his check and Bowers with his check and we
the partnership." Bowers was the general partner and Carnegie
Center Partners was the limited partner.
The Landis brothers put together the required $1
with Mark Landis tapping the proceeds of the sale of his insurance
company to Scottish & York, Alan Landis making the bank deal, and
four New York investors (two commercial real estate professionals
and two people from Bear Stearns) taking equal shares. Alan had done
some development, including such shopping centers as Loehmann’s Plaza
on Route 18, and would represent the partnership, and Mark would
his other business interests.
"It was all done in a week to 10 days — Ray was able to buy
an additional week for the closing," says Mark. "It did not
take a rocket scientist to figure out that, when you could buy
on Route 1 for $25,000 an acre, and there were several hundred acres,
that it was the bargain of the century, even in 1979. That was proven
less than a year later when we sold land to the Pritzker family for
a Hyatt at $100,000 an acre and could have gotten more. But we were
anxious to launch the project and thought having a Hyatt Regency at
the corner was the right thing to get recognition and presence."
The right tenants and the right plan were what preoccupied these
Earlier that year Jack Moran and Mark Landis had flown to Boston to
meet with noted architect Hugh Stubbins to be sure that the Carnegie
Center’s approach would be architecturally superior. Hugh Stubbins
himself designed the first building, and the Stubbins firm is still
in charge of Carnegie’s master plan. As enumerated by Mark Landis
Interesting angles and huge wrap-around windows overlooking the
are a hallmark.
they were not hodgepodge but something that formed a cohesive
employees could spend leisure time walking or sitting, plus many
amenities such as cafeterias, health clubs, and a day care center.
"They were relatively uncommon then. We came up with the idea
of parking on the perimeter, with the cars shielded from the road
ready to build Carnegie 104 and also had a chance to buy the next
100 acres for the partnership. But by this time interest rates had
climbed to 18 percent, and Jack Moran had been diagnosed with a
terminal lung cancer. "Bowers was proud of how he and Jack had
conceived and launched this, but as Jack became ill, Bowers began
to be very nervous about how much more would be required to carry
it through to fruition, both in terms of cash and attention,"
"Ray Bowers looked at the risk of putting up an on-spec building
plus the $2.5 million cost of raw land and decided that development
was not his main business, that he should not take a risk that would
jeopardize his construction company," remembers King.
Bowers’ daughter (Julia Bowers Coale, who now has her law office on
Nassau Street in the same building as King Interests) contacted Mark
Landis in 1981 to say that her father was interested in getting out
of the partnership. "We began to negotiate a deal to buy out the
Bowers/Moran interest, and it dragged on," says Mark Landis.
got back to me to say that she and I needed to work it out. She came
to my home and we finalized the deal that was put together by lawyers.
That’s how Alan became the general partner and we ended up owning
the Carnegie Center."
The Landises never had any doubt that they had picked the right spot.
Demographic studies showed that two thirds of the workers at the
Center were driving to work from the south, and almost all the rest
were coming from the east and west. As a clincher, Alan Landis talked
to the Kravco Company, developer of Quakerbridge Mall, and learned
that its first choice was the very spot that Ray Bowers had chosen,
Route 1 and Alexander Road. Only because Kravco got tired of battling
West Windsor’s resistance did it settle in Lawrence, just over the
West Windsor line.
"It was the best location and the best demographics but we weren’t
going to fight any longer," Morrie Kravitz of Kravco told Alan
Landis then. "We beat our heads to get in there, and unless you
want years of frustration, walk away,"
But by 1979, the township was looking at how development was lining
the coffers of Lawrence and Plainsboro. "In 1976 the Quakerbridge
Mall was the straw that broke township committee’s back," says
Alan. The township realized it could get significant tax dollars from
this property that was now being used as a sod farm. (It was owned
by a group of Philadelphia investors that included Jack Kelly, brother
of the late Princess Grace). The township committee (which at that
time included Doug Forrester) said yes to sewers and became more
Just after Carnegie 101 was finished in 1981, King
the Landis partnership. A structural engineering major at the
of Colorado, Class of 1974, he had taken night classes to earn an
MBA in finance from the Wharton School. Bowers had been his mentor
for seven years, helping him to use his engineering training to learn
the real estate business and develop his abilities in design. Bowers
even involved King in volunteer work for the Princeton YMCA, a cause
to which Bowers and his cohorts were devoted. "They brought in
their sons to pass the baton, and Ray brought me in. If there was
one key thing that helped me transfer my degree from college to the
workplace, it was Ray Bowers," says King.
"Instead of being in charge of construction on the Bowers side,
Bowers became the company working for us on the Landis side,"
says King. "It was an easy transition." From 1981 to 1996
King was in charge of all the building at the Carnegie Center. At
first the team consisted only of Alan Landis, King, and Roger
(who did the leasing and marketing) plus a receptionist in a cubicled
office in Carnegie 101.
The team stayed surprisingly small. "We were a small group of
individuals — just 38 or 40 people — with projects that
an institution," says King. In addition to the Carnegie Center,
the group also worked on the Tower Center in New Brunswick. "I
don’t think you could do a project like that with that structure
Each building was financed separately."
"We had separate responsibilities, but we also pitched in for
each other," says King. "If Alan was away and there was a
bankers’ meeting, I would go. It wasn’t above anybody to roll up your
sleeves and get something done. When you lead by example, everybody
else pitches in."
The first four buildings — the Hyatt and Carnegie 101, 103, and
104 — open onto a courtyard with a circular brick and cobblestone
drive. William Wolfe, then of Fulmer, Bowers and Wolfe, now with his
own firm at Research Park, designed 103, 104, and 105. "We tried
to make the 100 series center as urban a space as it could be, because
we were starting with a soybean field on the outer reaches of
says Wolfe. "But we realized that a good strategy for four
was not a good strategy for 20 buildings."
Carnegie 105 was added to the plan as a transition from internal
drives to the "loop road" system. It is "landmarked"
with a big clock that terminates the axis of the brick drive and
the pedestrian system. At first it was the headquarters for Bell
and it is occupied now by another telecommunications firm, RCN.
By 1986 most of the 200 series had been built (Carnegie
210, 212, 214, and 202, in that order), and in the next two years
the landscaping was accomplished: it won the Urban Land Institute
Award in 1990. Philadelphia-based landscape architect Robert Hanna
designed the famous Greenway, with its water lilies and swans, arched
bridges and weeping willows. The greenways represent dedicated open
space easements for use by township residents and are indeed a
spot for wedding pictures and prom parties. The plan also calls for
a few hundred acres of perimeter greenbelt that will never be
In the summer of 1988 the Landises hosted the grand opening of the
Carnegie Greenway complete with a sculpture garden. The family had
always had an appreciation for the arts — the table by wood
Isamu Noguchi in Alan Landis’ corner suite attested to that —
but to spend what seemed like a lot of money on art for a privately
owned development was unusual.
The first sculptures were provided on consignment, some obtained from
the Johnson Atelier, some through Raye Landis, Alan’s mother. In
to marrying Morris Landis (who had an accounting business), and
six children (Mark, Alan, Diana, Eileen, Micky, and an adopted son,
Tefura from Ethiopia), Raye Landis had gone to college as an adult
and opened her own art dealership. More than half of the sculptures
on display then are now permanent fixtures at the center.
The next two years, from 1989 to 1991, would test the tenacity of
Carnegie Center Partners. After a decade of frantic building —
some say more buildings were erected in the 1980s than in the previous
50 years — 1987’s Black October halted development. Scott Toombs
would lose control of his prized Forrestal Village, and by 1989 nearly
every industry was feeling the full effects of a recession.
"Everyone always looks at the accolades and the glamour of being
a developer," says King, "but to hold onto Carnegie Center
in the terrible years was very painful. There weren’t many people
interested in accolades in those years."
Alan Landis says his difficulties stemmed from the cash flow problems
of his tenants plus the center’s inability to quickly replace major
tenants (including Educational Testing Service and Bristol Myers
who had space built for them elsewhere. "The years from 1989 to
1994 were miserable," he remembers. "I had been through two
earlier recessions in the early ’70s and early ’80s."
"But I’m competitive. Most of our lenders were in Hartford, and
if I took 10 trips I took 100 trips to sit down with the institutions
and be open and honest with them, to say that we felt we were doing
it right. That we had dedicated, hard working people who were best
prepared to work through this period and that the period would end,
just like the period we are in now will end. We feel like quality
will win out, and it won out then."
Carnegie Center was so behind on its taxes that West Windsor held
an auction, and a township farmer and landowner stepped forward to
buy the tax liens. In 1992 Landis filed voluntary Chapter 11
first for 214 Carnegie Center, and then for 105, 210, and 211. These
actions allowed him to maintain ownership and control of the buildings
and continue services unabated while working with his financiers to
By 1993 Carnegie 214 was out from under the bankruptcy blanket but
one more building had gone into Chapter 11. The light at the end of
this tunnel: the architectural firm CUH2A signing a 10-year-lease
on 211 Carnegie Center that had been vacant for 18 months, and Covance
(then Besselaar) moving to 210 Carnegie Center. Enticing Besselaar
from the Forrestal Center to 210 came at a price: Alan Landis had
to relinquish his corner suite that looked out onto the Carnegie
Alan Landis lost his office, but Mark Landis and two of the New York
partners got wiped out of their investment during this downturn.
was a series of capital calls that proved to be devastating,"
says Mark Landis. "It hurts to lose your entire equity investment
and get nothing back for it. I invested $6 million in the Carnegie
Center and just couldn’t put in any more."
"But I am very proud of Alan’s success," says Mark. "He
worked very hard, was very committed, and was the one who managed
the process. It is not his fault that the real estate market cratered
in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and lots of other people were
by the market. He didn’t lose anything. That is a tribute to his great
negotiating skill. With very thoughtful and diligent planning he found
a way to preserve Carnegie Center, and when the market turned again
he was able to move it forward and achieve the great value that we
all hoped for when we originally started."
"Luckily my other businesses have done well and I have come out
better than I ever imagined," says Mark. At the time of the
from 1987 to 1995, he had a business called Health Information
located at Canal Pointe, and it was this business that required his
cash during Carnegie Center’s down times.
Mark Landis can be classified as a serial entrepreneur.
He went to the Hun School and graduated from Cornell in 1963, followed
by law school at Penn and the founding of the insurance business that
he sold to Scottish & York International Insurance. In the early 1980s
he was with Kroll Associates in New York and Boca Raton-based Casi,
which developed electronic security access control systems. In 1995
he was CEO of an electronic security services and products business
known as Security Technologies Group, and he sold that to Siemens
just a year ago. Now he lives in Florida and is president of security
for Siemens North America.
Like Mark, Alan went to the Hun School and Cornell but finished at
New York University in 1965. From 1967 to 1979 he built a half dozen
projects in central New Jersey, and he was directly involved in the
Carnegie Center from 1979 to 1998. He also developed the Tower Center
in East Brunswick but divested himself of a separate investment in
Nassau Park during the downturn. After the bankruptcy turmoil at the
Carnegie Center he had some big successes — such as attracting
Raytheon to the center and influencing the state to get busy on the
Meadow Road bypass. Occupancy rates and prices at the Carnegie Center
have always led the market.
His wife Linda, who had been the first female partner at Bear Stearns,
joined the Landis real estate company in 1986-’87. Their two grown
children are following in their parents’ footsteps: their son is in
real estate and their daughter works for Bear Stearns. In the ugly
1990s, just before Alan’s 50th birthday, Linda took out a family
membership in a spa resort in New England and Alan — who insists
that he has always been active and athletic — started to watch
his diet more carefully.
Alan Landis will quietly celebrate his 60th birthday
next week. Since 1998, when he sold the Carnegie buildings to Mort
Zuckerman’s Boston Properties, he has been working from an office
in New York and has been removed from the day-to-day business at the
Carnegie Center. The sale included 101, 104, 105, 210, 211, 212, 214,
202, 504, 506, 508, and two buildings under construction — 510
and the Covance building. The partners had made the initial investment
of a little over $1 million, and along the way they had put in a total
of $37 million in cash. They had $220 million in debt.
So three of the original six partners, Alan Landis and the two silent
partners from Bear Stearns, ended up with a net profit of $130
They still own all the Carnegie Center land on both sides of Route
1, which is worth $60 million, and Zuckerman paid them $350 million.
"Our total investment was increased by 250 percent over almost
20 years," says Landis. "Though others offered substantially
more money, Boston Properties agreed to hire all my people."
Micky Landis, who had joined the company in 1996, is now senior vice
president and regional manager of Boston Properties. And Alan Landis
continues to develop 2 million more square feet that remain on the
master plan. For instance, King Interests is putting together a
Suites hotel for Carnegie West.
Landis still has one more very grand vision for the Carnegie Center,
a part that is still planted in corn. Picture yourself turning off
of Route 1 to drive past Fleet Bank. At the end of the road you turn
right for the 500 series or left for the daycare center, the post
office, or Roszel Road. Straight ahead of you, in the corn field is
what has been mapped out to be the Crown Jewel of this center, the
400 series. "It will be the centerpiece, the grand entrance into
the complex, with a promenade and fountains," says Landis. "I
would love to see the whole 400 series completed so the spine of the
center — the road from 100 to 500 — can finally be completed.
I don’t know if it will be 10 more years or 20."
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