The economy is a mess — gas prices way up, commodity prices increasing at an alarming rate, a deepening subprime loan crisis. Oh yes, and unemployment rates are rising at the same time that the cost of living in New Jersey, even for those with good jobs, is becoming unaffordable.

Jerry Fennelly, owner of commercial real estate brokerage NAI Fennelly (www.fennelly.com), notes all of this, but after doing his research concludes that things could be worse for the commercial real estate market in the greater Princeton area. Supply decreased, at least a little, in the spring and rents are up a bit, too.

“The greater Princeton area withstood the global economic downturn of the first half of 2008 due to the startup banks that were created in 2007, expansion at Princeton University, government growth, nonprofits that have benefited from several years of increased contributions, and contract research organizations and medical device companies that are enjoying solid growth,” Fennelly writes in his June report on office space in the Princeton market.

Overall, there were 88 transactions in the first half of 2008, he finds. While this is substantially less than the number of transactions in recent years, the average size of a transaction, at 6,720 square feet, was larger.

While pharmaceutical is the first industry that comes to mind in connection with central New Jersey, Fennelly finds that recent commercial real estate activity has been driven by the financial industry. Japanese investors are in the market along with local financiers placing bets that small, regional banks will outperform the giants, many of whom are staggering in the aftermath of the subprime dilemma. Smaller banks taking space recently include The Bank of Princeton, First Choice, Roma Asia, and Tri State Capital.

Meanwhile, growth continued to slow in the Internet and software industries, but accelerated in the education and government sectors, whose expansions accounted for a full 33 percent of net office space absorption in the first half of the year. The Federal Reserve leased 30,000 square feet of space at 100 Lenox Drive, a number of non-profits grew into larger quarters, and Princeton University started on construction of its new facility at Carnegie Center and leased two units of space, totaling 10,000 square feet, downtown. The university, in fact, was the biggest player in the area’s commercial real estate market, followed by Johnson & Johnson.

Demand in the second half of the year “will most likely be slower due to the economic pressure on companies,” writes Fennelly. But on the up side, he points out that “this commercial adjustment is not as deep as the residential market and should get cleaned up relatively fast.”

Cool Night Vision from Lightwave

Shortwave infrared, or SWIR, sensors offer a distinct advantage — they can allow the human eye to see what it otherwise could not. The downside is that keeping them cool during operation is terribly expensive. Not in monetary terms, but rather in the amount of energy they consume.

For example, say a piece of night vision equipment generates one watt of heat. Cooling it has been known to take three or four watts, says Sabbir Rangwala, vice president of product development and operations at Princeton Lightwave, the Route 130 firm that develops and manufactures optoelectronic devices.

To combat this vastly inefficient design, Princeton Lightwave has partnered with North Carolina-based Nextreme, which has developed technology that significantly cuts the amount of energy it takes to cool SWIR devices. The collaboration, which kicked off about a year ago, unites Princeton Lightwave’s SWIR Indium Gallium Arsenide, or InGaAs, technology with Nextreme’s efficiency and is expected to make significant gains in a traditionally troublesome area, Rangwalla says. InGaAs amplifies as little as a single photon “to create an avalanche of electrons, detected electronically,” and, thus, create vision in darkness. The project is being developed primarily for military use.

The collaboration was made possible through a long-standing history between members of the two companies who once worked for JDS Uniphase, both at the Ewing and Raleigh, North Carolina, locations. In 1999 JDS Uniphase bought the Trenton-based Epitaxx, a supplier of optical detectors and receivers for fiberoptic telecommunications and cable television networks. In 2003 several members of JDS’s Ewing staff, including Rangwalla, joined Princeton Lightwave, itself an offshoot of Sarnoff, to develop detectors and related applications. Other members of the JDS’s Raleigh site followed suit to form Nextreme. (See cover story, page 35, for another example of JDSU’s presence in central New Jersey.)

Princeton Lightwave focuses on SWIR components and sensors for military and telecommunications applications. The company’s preferred spectrum, which less than three microns, is what drives the telecommunications industry in fiber optics. Rangwalla, who earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Berkeley, first worked in optics at AT&T, where he was involved with undersea devices.

— Scott Morgan

Princeton Lightwave Inc., 2555 Route 130 South, Suite 1, Cranbury 08512; 609-495-2600; fax, 609-395-9114. Yves Dzialowski, CEO. Home page: www.princetonlightwave.com.

Princeton Bids To Keep Control of PPPL

After nearly 60 years as the manager and operator of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory on Route 1, Princeton University will now have to bid publicly to keep its position.

As part of a policy change, the U.S. Department of Energy has replaced issuing renewable contracts to its 10 labs with requests for proposals, or RFPs. Princeton University has operated PPPL — founded under the Atomic Energy Commission in 1951 as a facility to study fusion science — since the beginning. Until 2006, PPPL operated under a contract that was renewable every five years.

Citing an interest in fostering competition, DOE has opened control of its laboratories to public contract. Key criteria the department is seeking in its next manager/operator include the potential contractor’s experience and past performance in both science and business management; the availability of key personnel, including a laboratory director; and a strategy for fulfilling DOE’s mission for the laboratory. The new manager will be required to retain the lab’s staff of nearly 425, with the exception of the most senior-level management positions.

PPPL is one of 10 national science laboratories funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The university learned of the RFPs last June and is the ninth lab to enter bidding.

The new contract also will be a five-year deal beginning on December 15. The contractor would then assume responsibility for PPPL on or about February 15, 2009.

Though Princeton must enter the public fray, the university appears confident that it will continue to be the manager of PPPL. University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt said in a phone interview that while Princeton is taking the process seriously, its long academic history with the DOE through the lab puts the university in an enviable position. More than 230 doctoral candidates from Princeton have used PPPL as part of their research and gone onto make major contributions to science and education.

Cliatt said Princeton is unaware of what, if any, competition it might have; bidders are not yet publicly known. A one-year extension to bridge the end of the current contract and the start of the new contract has been requested, however. The university’s contract expires on September 30.

Rob Goldston, director of PPPL and professor of astrophysical sciences at the university, said Princeton’s proposal to stay on at the lab includes “innovative management initiatives and exciting scientific plans,” adding that the university aims to lead the world in the development of fusion energy (see Survival Guide story, page 43).

A copy of the RFP is available online at http://e-center.doe.gov/. Proposals are due to DOE on September 8.

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University, James Forrestal Campus, Box 451, Princeton 08543-0451; 609-243-2000; fax, 609-243-2751. Robert J. Goldston, director. Home page: www.pppl.gov.

Crosstown Moves

Fabulous Fare, 51 Everett Drive, Suite B-60, West Windsor 08550; 609-936-9400; fax, 609-228-4209. John and Susan Panzica, owners. Home page: www.myfabulousfare.com.

Fabulous Fare, a marketer of fancy foods, beverages, and chocolates, has moved from its West Windsor location in search of a larger space. Owner Susan Panzica said the company’s lease expired at Everett Drive and that she and her husband, John, will be operating from the couple’s home until they find an ideal spot.

Monitor Products Inc., 7A & 7E Marlen Drive, Robbinsville 08619; 609-584-0505; fax, 609-584-7629. Fumio Miyamoto, president. Home page: www.monitorproducts.com.

Due to the need of more warehouse and office space, Monitor Products Inc., a marketer of ultra-efficient heating systems and water heaters, has moved from 1 Deer Park Drive in Monmouth Junction to Robbinsville. The new location includes a new training room and customer support center.

Take Solutions Limited, 502 Carnegie Center, Suite 100, Princeton 08540; 609-720-1002; fax, 609-720-1003. Ram Yeleswarapu, president and CEO. Home page: www.takesolutions.com.

Take Solutions, which provides technology solutions in supply chain management, has relocated its Princeton offices from 600 College Road East to Carnegie Center. Headquartered in Chennai, India, the company employs 14 in Princeton.

Ventura Wealth Management, 200 Princeton South Corporate Center, Suite 150, Ewing 08628; 609-671-9100; fax, 609-671-9199. Nicholas V. Ventura, managing principal. Home page: www.venturawealth.com.

Ventura Wealth Management, a four person financial planning firm headed by Nick Ventura, has moved from 23 Route 31 North in Pennington to the Princeton South Corporate Center.

Leaving Town

Stan Allen Architect, 205 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. Home page: www.stanallenarchitect.com.

Stan Allen, who operated his firm on Witherspoon Street for nearly seven years, has relocated to Brooklyn. The office can now be reached at 718-624-7827.

Consolidated Technologies Inc. (CTI), 13 Roszel Road, Suite C 201, Princeton. www.consoltech.com.

Consolidated Technologies Inc., a communications company, has left its offices on Roszel Road. The company, headquartered in New York, has not relocated the offices in New Jersey and has no immediate plans to do so. Twelve were employed here.

Embarq Logistics, 25 Stults Road, Dayton. Home page:www.embarq.com.

Embarq Logistics, a division of Kansas-based telecommunications firm Embarq, has left its Dayton offices and now has no locations in New Jersey.

GMAC Mortgage, 475 Wall Street, Princeton 08540. Matt Govan, branch manager. Home page: www.gmacmortgage.com.

GMAC Mortgage, a three-person firm launched by Matt Govan last year, appears to have left its Wall Street offices. Parent company GMAC had no information on the office and no forwarding information is available.

Money Warehouse, 205 Nassau Street, Princeton. Home page:www.moneywarehouse.com.

Financial firm Money Warehouse, which operates a small chain of storefronts in New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida, has left Princeton and is no longer doing business in New Jersey.

Next Generation Technology, 11 Deer Park Drive, Suite 207, Monmouth Junction.

Next Generation Technology, developer of specialty chemicals, has left its offices on Deer Park Drive. Headquartered in India, the firm maintains locations in Illinois and New York.

Pharmaceutical Corporation of America, 2000 Lenox Drive, Suite 100 A, Lawrenceville. Home page: www.pcapharma.com.

Pharmaceutical Corporation of America, which performs management and marketing services for the pharmaceutical industry, has moved its operations to New York City. President and COO Steve Varon can be reached at his cell, 908-463-4040, or through the company at 212-463-3728. He can also be reached through E-mail at Steve.Varon@pcapharma.com.

Spherion (SFN), 100 Canal Pointe Boulevard, Suite 118, Princeton. Home page: www.spherion.com.

Spherion, a staffing and employment agency with offices nationwide, has moved its offices on Canal Pointe Boulevard to Bridgewater. That office can be reached at 908-526-7606.

Spherion still has an office at 3 Independence Way.

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