#b#Princeton Power Avoids Fire Damage#/b#

Princeton Power Systems Inc., 201 Washington Road, Building 2, Princeton Junction 08550; 609-955-5390; fax, 609-751-9225. Marshall Cohen, CEO. www.princetonpower.com

A small fire broke out at Princeton Power Systems’ administrative offices on Washington Road last weekend, but the damage was minimal and business should continue largely unaffected.

According to authorities, a short-out ignited one of the solar power firm’s power distribution panels around 8:30 a.m. on February 19. The fire did not spread, but there was some smoke damage. The building was occupied at the time of the fire, but no one was injured.

PPS president Darren Hammell said Monday, February 21, that “despite the unfortunate events, we got lucky in a number of ways.” PPS opened a new 10,000-square-foot production facility at 3490 Route 1, just south of the Hyatt Regency, in January and had already moved all production and about 80 percent of its engineering to the new site, Hammell said. “Shipments to customers are unaffected.”

Hammell said that among the engineering projects still at the Washington Road facility were some for the U.S. Navy. But those, he said, were all on the left, undamaged side of the building. “The overall impact to the business operationally and financially were negligible.”

The building owner, SRI, and the fire inspectors are investigating the cause of the fire; the lab that caught fire was not in use at the time, so Hammell said the fire appears to be unrelated to work the firm was doing at the time.

“The silver lining is that many of our employees stepped up to help out, and we’ve been able to accelerate some of the transitions to the new facility,” he said.

#b#Allies To Pay Back State Grant Money#/b#

Allies Inc., 1262 Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road, Suite 101 Building A, Hamilton 08690; 609-689-0136; fax, 609-581-4891. Krystal Odell MED, president/CEO. www.alliesnj.org

The state Department of Human Services has ordered Allies, a Hamilton-based nonprofit that helps people with developmental disabilities find housing, to pay back $353,000 in state funding. According to the department, Allies spent the money on luxuries like cruises for staffers and clients, rather than on its services.

Allies must repay the money by June 30.

In a statement, Allies claims that it did not intentionally misuse state grant money as “permissible expenditures” were never clearly laid out in the grant package. Allies also said that it had made some internal changes aimed at preventing a repeat of this episode.

#b#Commercial Real Estate Shows Improvement #/b#

Mack-Cali Realty Corporation (CLI), 1 Independence Way, Suite 100, Princeton 08540; 609-452-2430; fax, 609-520-0650. Edward Garibaldi, building manager. www.mack-cali.com

Mack-Cali, the commercial real estate investment trust that owns and manages several business parks in the Princeton region, recently released its fourth-quarter 2010 report, announcing that it leased 765,000 square feet of office space in central and Northern New Jersey in the final three months of last year.

The announcement bears out the more optimistic assessments about the office market between New Brunswick and Hamilton. After a terrible 2009, 2010 saw a leveling off of vacancy rates that eventually turned into more leasing activity all around by year’s end.

Mack-Cali had its hand on a few big-ticket leases, most notably the ones signed by Verizon to stay in its 95,000-square-foot space at 600 Horizon Center in Hamilton (U.S. 1, January 11) and by Novo Nordisk at 500 College Road East. The firm, which develops drugs for diabetes treatment, signed a 48,478-square-foot lease for three years and nine months at the park, but is not scheduled to move anytime soon.

Ken Inchausti, a spokesman for Novo Nordisk, said that the company is looking for space in which to grow but that the details are “still in flux” and the deal is still being finalized at College Road East.

Steve Tolkach of Newmark Knight Frank represented the tenant, and Mack-Cali was represented in-house by John O’Hearn and Erin Moran.

Mack-Cali also announced that Regus Business Centres, which offers flexible corporate workplace locations, signed a 38,930-square-foot lease renewal for five years and four months at 100 Overlook Center on Route 1 South. With the signing, the four-story, the 149,600-square-foot building is 91 percent leased.

Carolyn Sica of CB Richard Ellis represented the tenant in the transaction.

#b#New in Town#/b#

Smart IMS, 103 Morgan Lane, Suite 104, Princeton 08540; 609-955-3027; fax, 609-936-9866. Amar Reddy, CEO. www.smartims.com

Smart IMS, an information management firm, has opened at Morgan Lane. The company is headed by Amar Reddy, a 15-year veteran of the industry. Reddy has built systems for companies in the telecommunications, pharmaceutical, insurance, and banking industries. Reddy holds an master’s in computer technology from the City University of New York.

Ross University, 630 Route 1 North, North Brunswick 08902; 732-509-4600. Mary Thoesen Coleman MD, PhD, dean. www.rossu.edu

Ross University, the medical and veterinary arm of DeVry University, has opened administrative offices in North Brunswick, near DeVry.

Ross opened in 1978 and has since become one of the largest medical school systems in the world, overseeing schools in Florida and the West Indies.

Vivimed Labs USA Inc., 1100 Cornwall Road, Suite 160, Monmouth Junction 08852; 732-398-0008. Darren Gilbert, manager, sales & marketing. www.vivimedlabs.com

Vivimed, a speciality chemical manufacturer of home and personal care products, has opened an office on Cornwall Road in Monmouth Junction. Based in India, the firm develops preservatives for oral care, hair care, skin care, and sun care products.

Open Systems Technologies, 231 Clarksville Road, Suite 4B, Princeton Junction 08550; 609-297-4400; fax, 609-799-1974. Lee Serafini, business development manager. www.opensystemstech.com

Open Systems Technologies (OST), a provider of IT and technology placement services, has opened an office on Clarksville Road. The company provides services in technology, finance, accounting, operations, and government and legal services.

The Clarksville Road office is overseen by Lee Serafini, a former sales executive at Quinnova Pharmaceuticals.. Serafini holds a bachelor’s in communications from Elon College.

Indus Interactive Inc., 2 King Arthur Court, Suite 3, North Brunswick 08902; 212-213-5960; fax, 718-502-9139. Payal Patel, marketing manager.

Indus Interactive, an India-based firm that provides Internet services and wireless solutions to businesses, has opened an office in North Brunswick.

Destar, 101 Morgan Lane, Suite 210, Plainsboro 08536; 609-936-0073. Rahul Menezes and Anika Sharma, managing partners. www.destarinc.com

Destar, an executive search and advisory services firm that focuses on sales and executive professionals, has opened an office on Morgan Lane in Plainsboro.

The firm was co-founded by Rahul Menezes, an 18-year sales and business development executive, and Anika Sharma, who has spent an equal amount of time in marketing with Fortune 1000 companies in the U.S. and India.

Menezes has served in sales executive roles at Birlasoft and HCL, Hewlett Packard. He holds a bachelor’s in economics and a masters in management studies.

Prior to joining Destar Sharma was the head of international business for Consim Info Ltd, the parent company for BharatMatrimony, the world’s leading matrimony portal. She holds an MBA in marketing from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies in India and a bachelors in psychology.

#b#Management Moves#/b#

The Heldrich, 10 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick 08901; 732-729-4670; fax, 732-729-4672. Maryann White, general manager. www.theheldrich.com

Benchmark Hospitality International, owner of the 248-room Heldrich hotel in New Brunswick, has named Maryann White as the hotel’s new general manager. White succeeds Michael Taylor, who was named general manager of another Benchmar hotel.

A 30-year veteran of the hospitality industry, White served in several positions for Starwood Hotels & Resorts in New Jersey and New York City. Prior to taking over the Heldrich, she was general manager of the Westin Times Square. She also has been GM of several major brand hotels in the U.S. White holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University.

Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton, 123 East Hanover Street, Trenton 08608-1703; 609-396-9355; fax, 609-396-5692. Carolyn Biondi, interim executive director. http://thecrisisministry.org

Carolyn Biondi has been appointed interim executive director of this social service provider, replacing Jarret Kerbel, who has taken a position as rector of the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Field in Philadelphia. Biondi, who has a master’s in social work from the University of Chicago, was previously a member of the Crisis Ministry’s steering committee.

#b#Deaths#/b#

Helen Fiumenero Kronk, 88, on February 17. She was a printer at Princeton University Press.

Helene Goldberg Lynch, 62, on February 14. She had been a reference librarian at the Lawrence Library for the past 10 years.

Alessandra Mazzucato, 71, on February 13. A proponent of Italian culture in Princeton, she operated her own cooking class, taught at Princeton Adult School, and directed the Princeton Public Library’s acquisition of its Italian language collection. She also was community relations director for the Stark & Stark law firm in Lawrenceville.

Elizabeth Kurkjian, 75, on February 10. She was a customer Service representative at American Standard in Hamilton for 50 years.

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