Ewing Township is fast becoming a hotspot for business activity in Mercer County. In the past few months alone the town has green-lit redevelopment on Parkway Avenue, a new airline opened at the Trenton-Mercer Airport, and a number of businesses have located in the Princeton South corporate center — most recently Church & Dwight and its iconic Arm & Hammer brand.
In his state of the county speech in January, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes pointed out that that the airport and existing rail infrastructure in Ewing will join with Princeton and Trenton to create a “transportation triangle” that will be an “enormous economic driver” for the region.
Frontier Air, which opened at Trenton-Mercer on November 16, has already expanded its list of destinations two times since it started service. By April the airline will offer nonstop service to 10 cities: Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago-Midway, Columbus, Detroit, and Raleigh/Durham.
Robert Prunetti, CEO of the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce and former Mercer County executive, commented on the importance of the airport and business development in Ewing in a recent opinion article.
“The Trenton-Mercer Airport has the potential to become an economic jewel for the entire region. For too long, in my estimation, we’ve allowed this gemstone to dull due to underutilization,” said Prunetti.
Prunetti said the chamber supports plans for the redevelopment of the 86-acre General Motors tract and the adjacent 28-acre former Navy Jet Propulsion site both located off Parkway Avenue. “This plan alone will enhance the West Trenton portion of Ewing Township dramatically — but combined with the potential of the airport, it becomes a rare gemstone.”
Ewing took one step closer toward the construction of a town center on January 30 when the township council voted to approve the redevelopment plan. The concept — called the Parkway Avenue Redevelopment Plan — calls for transformation of the area into a town center featuring restaurants, retail stores, offices, residences, a park, and a town square. Ewing officials hope to find developers for the project by the end of the summer.
The plan also calls for the center to become a transit hub by connecting the property to the both the airport and the West Trenton SEPTA train station. Proposals have called for the train station to be moved closer to the redevelopment area.
In addition to continuing its current service to Philadelphia, the station would also be part of a new West Trenton Line of New Jersey Transit. Under that plan, some 12 miles of new track would be laid to connect Ewing to new stations in Hopewell, Montgomery, and Hillsborough before being merged into the Raritan Valley Line to Newark Penn Station.
Meanwhile, in the nearby Princeton South corporate center, Church & Dwight, the household products manufacturer, became the latest company to move into the complex. The company began to move employees into its newly-completed headquarters in the complex’s 500 building about a month ago.
The Opus Group, the Minnesota firm that designed and constructed the new 250,000-square-foot building, announced the completion of the facility in a press release on January 31. Construction began in October 2011 and was completed in late 2012. An investment group led by Founders Properties of Minnesota owns the building and has signed Church & Dwight to a long-term lease, reported to be 20 years.
Employees at the site told U.S. 1 that more than 500 employees are ultimately expected to work at the location. Some 250 employees are expected to stay at the company’s old Princeton headquarters on North Harrison Street, which will be made into a research and development center. The company also has sites in Rocky Hill, Cranbury, and Lakewood.
A company official requested that U.S. 1 E-mail a list of questions for detailed information regarding the move, but no one ever responded to the request.
Opus also constructed the rest of Princeton South, which is home to companies including the American Institute of CPAs, Antares Pharma, Autism Services Group, Battelle Ventures, Berkley Life Sciences, Bovis Lend Lease, CA (Computer Associates), Compass Healthcare Communications, Emgenex, Environmental Resources Management, Epocrates, FMC Corp., Mercer Oak Realty, Mercer Oaks Properties, RSVP Group US, Valuation Research Corp., and Ventura Wealth Management. The complex is also home to a Marriott SpringHill Suites hotel in Building 800.
Opus purchased the 102-acre property in 2006 from Bloomberg Financial. The complex was originally slated to become Bloombergs’s New Jersey headquarters before the plan was abandoned. After the purchase, Opus received approvals for 740,000 square feet of office space, including six buildings, a 120-room hotel, three restaurants, and a bank.
The first deal for occupancy in the project was with CA for 83,000 square feet in Building 200 — the first 160,000 square foot building to be constructed. Building 100, a 120,000-square-foot building was completed in late 2008.
According to Opus, the Church & Dwight campus includes two 125,000-square-feet class A, energy-efficient office buildings designed and constructed with sustainable practices and elements and connected to allow for employee engagement. The new headquarters centralizes employees previously housed in four separate buildings.
The new buildings are connected by a common “hub link,” a two-story lobby with a full-service cafeteria, training center and conference area. Church & Dwight employees will be able to utilize an outdoor dining patio and courtyard.
Church & Dwight initially looked into moving to Pennsylvania to meet space demands, but eventually opted to stay in New Jersey, in part due to a $13.5 million business retention grant from the state. At the time, CEO James Craigie said that without the funds the company would have likely opted to move out of New Jersey.
Church & Dwight has said it will invest $27 million in its operations in the state, including the new Ewing headquarters and the Princeton facility. It will also investment in the manufacturing plant in Lakewood, where the company has said it plans to add 130 employees as part of an energy efficiency grant.
In November, Church & Dwight reinforced its commitment to the region by reaching a 20-year deal with the Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, for the naming rights to Waterfront Stadium. Under the deal, the financial terms of which were not made available, the ballpark was renamed Arm & Hammer Park.
Church & Dwight, 500 Charles Ewing Boulevard, Ewing; 609-683-5900; fax, 609-498-7177. James R. Craigie, president, CEO, chairman. www.churchdwight.com.