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These stories by Barbara Fox were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on August 12, 1998. All rights reserved.
Digital TV -- It Works
Outside the Sarnoff Corporation, the 18-wheel truck sports flashy signs proclaiming the sponsors of the national tour. Inside the Harris/PBS DTV Express, a complete television control room gleams with transmitters and receivers and screens and flashing lights everywhere. "It's all digital, and it all works," exclaims Ed Williams, a Public Broadcasting Systems engineer who gives seminars for the 40-city 15-month road show. He will also conduct tours of the 66-foot truck at Sarnoff through this Thursday, August 13. (Tours are by reservation and most are already booked. Call Sarnoff at 609-734-2000 to see if any openings exist.)
One half of the truck is taken up by the broadcast studio and the other by the "Living Room of the Tomorrow" or "The Classroom of the Future." Take your pick, it's the same space. Couches are lined up in front of screens so you can compare today's analog television signal with digital television and then ratchet that up to the high definition television (HDTV) and Surround Sound for which Sarnoff is known.
Williams compares digital and analog television to pictures reproduced in newspapers and in Life Magazine. "In the newspaper, we glance over them. In the magazine, you see so much more. It's like AM radio and compact disks."
Though Princeton is accustomed to hearing about Sarnoff's exploits with HDTV, digital television offers more opportunities than that. One channel of digital television can broadcast four signals at once. It can also deliver such Internet-like services as stock quotations, bank statements, travel arrangements, and even copies of newspapers.
"It allows consumers to have enormous choice in real time," says Domnick Ambrosio, senior manager and business management seminar presenter of the Harris/PBS DTV Express. It's like a digital refrigerator: Start on the top shelf and mix and match your meal. "You can see not just one Yankee game, but every Yankee game that you had ever wanted to see."
The possibilities are also enormous for inventors and entrepreneurs, says Ambrosio, whose business seminars attract a wide variety of professionals, from ad agencies to broadcast sales people to vendors. Someone in his New York seminar had the idea to use the digital tool for a real time market research system, to poll consumer opinions and report back. Another idea was to use the data streaming capability for electronic footnotes, extra information for the teacher in a "distance learning" situation. Similarly, electronic coupons could be sent, or sponsor information provided on demand.
The tour is co-sponsored by the Public Broadcasting System (locally by NJN) and the Florida-based Harris Corporation, the $3.8 billion company that manufactures semi-conductors, communications equipment, and -- through Lanier Worldwide -- office equipment.
But in spite of strict FCC deadlines, digital television also has a long way to go. By next May, all commercial stations in the Princeton area are required to transmit some sort of digital signal. Yet not until 2004 are stations being required to simulcast 75 percent of their programming on their DTV channels. By 2006, assuming that 85 percent of the TV households in its area can receive a digital signal, each station is supposed to end its analog broadcasting.
Williams has the engineer's enthusiasm for showing how the digital signal transmits "from glass to glass," from the lens of the camera to the monitor screen. If digital television is so wonderful, what worries him about it? His reply: "There are people who would advocate using it at less than its full capacity." He points to a monitor showing one of today's sitcoms, then to the HDTV monitor showing a nature scene in fabulous colorful detail. "We have an opportunity to bring that kind of clarity for the first time in the history of man. Some people would have us stay with the old kind."
-- Barbara Fox
The north side of Alexander Road, from Route 1 to the Princeton Junction train station, is alive with activity in every block. Compass Development, Nexus Properties, Bohren's Moving & Storage, Trammel Crow, and Princeton Metro Properties -- all are getting ready for new space -- some of it speculative -- or new tenants.
Compass Development is starting a multimillion renovation construction of 693 Alexander Road. The 32,000 square foot commercial building sits on 4.8 acres of prime property across from the Hyatt and had been marketed by Bill Barish of Commercial Property Network for $1.7 million. The footprint of the renovated buildings will be smaller, but the total footage will expand to more than 47,000 square feet.
"The site is obviously in a very desirable location. It will be a major demolition, reconstruction, and conversion project. For all intents and purposes every part of the existing structure will be changed," says Jalsa Urubshurow, a principal of Deer Park Drive-based Compass Realty and Development, which will own and lease the building. He is also associated with All-Tech, the largest residential carpentry contractor in the tristate area, and with Nomadic Expeditions, a leading supplier of specialty travel to Mongolia.
The Lambertville firm of Minno & Wasko designed the Class A building with a traditional classic arch, bay windows, lush landscaping, and a courtyard area to create a campus effect, with access to all of the buildings from the courtyard. "Architecturally, it will be much more impressive than anything that exists on that road," says Urubshurow. He envisions having one large corporate tenant concerned with corporate identity -- or multiple tenants, because the design provides for three areas.
Formerly known as the Rosenblad building, it had a brief moment of glory when it was used as the production headquarters for Paramount to shoot the movie I.Q. Then it went for a lease/purchase deal to Control Automation, but that firm was bought out and moved West.
"The warehouse will be totally redone," Urubshurow says. "Even the slab, the warehouse floor, will be have to be altered."
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731 Alexander: ">731 Alexander:
Two tracts of meadow between 707 Alexander Road and the Hillier tract are scheduled to be developed soon. Sydney Sussman's Nexus Properties aims to build 100,000 square feet next to its 707 Alexander Road complex. Called Princeton Plaza, 731 Alexander Road will have two Class A buildings with 60,000 and 40,000 square feet. The plans have been approved but building permits have not been issued. The larger three-story building will have a brick and glass exterior and floor to ceiling bay windows on the corners. Tenants will get five parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of space, and it will have the latest in fiber optics, wiring, and HVAC systems.
Princeton Plaza is billed as the first speculative office building construction in the Princeton market since 1991. Steve Tolcash and Tom Romano at Buschman are marketing the property at what they term "an aggressive rental rate."
The mover is moving. Ted Froelich, the third generation owner of Bohren's Moving and Storage, has bought 11.5 acres at Matrix Development's Northeast Industrial Park near Exit 7A of the Turnpike and will transfer his Alexander Road operations to that site by October, 1999.
Bohren's was represented by Gerry Fennelly in the purchase of 11.5 acres, and the 122,000 square foot building is being designed by KSS Architects of Witherspoon Street.
The Alexander Road site has an equal amount of acreage (10.5 acres) but just a 58,000 square-foot building. "We needed more space, and where we are going is more truck friendly," says Froelich. "And the taxes are climbing rapidly in West Windsor."
Founded in 1924, Bohren's owns about 100 trucks and has about 110 employees, and 90 percent of them will be closer to their homes at the new site. "I think Exit 7A is going to be the up and coming location," says Froelich.
A Seward Johnson sculpture of a woman waving goodbye to her household goods stood at the entrance to Bohren's for years, but now it is gone. That's not due to the move. It was merely a loan from the Johnson Atelier in exchange for the use of a forklift, and the deal ended. It is also indicative of Bohren's business. "My customer base has changed dramatically over the past 10 years," says Froelich. "It is more commercial -- 70 percent of what we do is in the trade show and exhibit business. The household moving is a smaller portion."
Froelich has sold the Alexander Road site and firmly declines to name the buyer, but it is widely known that a major educational institution is in need of storage space.
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600 and 800">600 and 800
Between Bohren's and Hillier's Alexander Park is an 18-acre plot that Robert Hillier owned and that Trammel Crow has bought. Aubrey Haines of GMH Realty says Trammel Crow will break ground on 600 and 800 Alexander Park by the end of August.
"The first building to break ground by the end of August is 140,000 square feet," says Aubrey Haines of GMH Realty. A second building, 70,000 square feet, is planned; both are Hillier designs. "It will be classy," Haines says.
The official groundbreaking will be in September, which is when GMH will begin to market the Class A building at $27 per square foot gross plus tenant electric. The two buildings will be part of Alexander Park (which now has five buildings including the Hillier headquarters) but will have an additional entrance from Alexander Road.
The corner of Alexander Road at Vaughn Drive is also hot. Princeton Metro Partners -- a partnership in which Peter Dodds of Keller Dodds & Woodworth is involved -- has received planning board approval for a two-story brick office building on the corner of Alexander and Vaughn. Mack-Cali Realty owns the only building that now has a current Vaughn Drive address (5 Vaughn Drive) but it had also reportedly bought the land for what would be 3 Vaughn Drive. This leaves Princeton Metro Partners (the original developers) with 10 acres on which to build 40,800 square feet.
A groundbreaking date has not been set, but the construction period would be about 14 months.
Now that it no longer needs the space, Dow Jones may lease some of its big building now under construction on Route 1 North. After construction started in spring, 1997, Dow Jones sold off its second largest business, Telerate.
"We started construction under the belief that we continued to own that business," says spokesperson Richard Toeful. "We don't for the moment need the space, so we are trying to lease it. The building is nearly complete." The New York office of Cushman & Wakefield is marketing the site and running display ads in (of course) the Wall Street Journal. Merrill Lynch has reportedly looked at the space. The 450,000 square foot building will hold up to 1,000 workers. It has its own new entrance on Ridge Road.
Druker Rahl & Fein is selling its building on Canal Pointe Boulevard and moving to east a larger space at 3625 Mercerville-Quakerbridge Road. The 10,800 square foot building at 200 Canal Pointe (south of MarketFair) is priced at $1.75 million for sale, or for lease at $23.75 per square foot, and will be available in January. Bill Barish of Commercial Property Network is marketing the building.
"I am pleased to say that we have experienced 120 percent growth since we moved into our current facility five years ago," says Conrad Druker, managing principal. "Fortunate to acquire a facility only three miles from our current location, we will be occupying 20,000 square feet, subletting the 20,000 square foot balance, leaving us with room to grow."
The owners of the 40,000 square foot building, Quakerbridge Commerce Center LLC, were represented by Maguire Burke and the buyers by Barish, who is marketing the extra 20,000 feet at $13.50 per foot.
Formerly Rosenberg, Druker & Co., Druker Rahl & Fein was established in 1964 and for decades had an office on Chambers Street in downtown Princeton. It has a staff of 70 (52 accountants including 30 CPAs) and specializes in providing business consulting and accounting services to healthcare and nonprofit organizations, medical practices, law firms, sport and entertainment franchises and facilities, government agencies, and businesses in Central New Jersey.
The Canal Pointe building was formerly occupied by Electronic Data Systems. When Druker moved in, the sale price was $1.1 million. The firm hired the Hillier Group for the fitout and changed the address from 99 Farber Road to 200 Canal Pointe.
In pushing for the Canal Pointe designation Conrad Druker aimed for both access and recognition. "We are used to having the recognition of being in downtown Princeton and everyone knows where downtown Princeton is" (U.S. 1, August 5, 1992).
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