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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the June 12, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Ewing’s Good News

Real estate activity at Ewing Township is perking up,

thanks to Merrill Lynch developing its 130-acre campus just over the

line in Hopewell. Greg Caiola, the economic development officer

in Ewing Township, bestows a fairytale moniker on the Merrill Lynch

site, with its plentiful amenities and huge population of office works. He calls it "Oz."

Hopewell, in the shadow of Oz, is trying to discourage further development.

Not so with Ewing. "We are benefiting from the fact that Hopewell

will not be developing much in the near future. It is quieting for

them and good for us," says Caiola.

Ewing will talk about its good news at its economic summit on Thursday,

June 20, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the College of New Jersey Music

Hall. Mayor Wendell E. Pribila will speak, as will Michael

Wilburn of American Properties and representatives from Sierra

Office Park. Refreshments will be served and the event is free by

reservation; call Anthony Carabelli at 609-883-2900, ext. 7648.

Wilburn is an alumnus of the University of Colorado, Class of 1966,

and has an MBA from the University of Massachusetts and a master’s

in economics from Penn State. During his career he has been a consultant,

a developer, and the president of a subsidiary of W.R. Grace. Headed

by Randy Csik, American Properties and its affiliates own the Woodbridge

Sheraton and the Edison Clarion, and they plan to build a Hilton Garden

at Raritan Center.

American Properties has begun construction on a 130-room Courtyard

by Marriott hotel on Scotch Road and this month expects to start construction

of 120 condominium units on Scotch Road. "Both are to be completed

within the next 15 months — the township has done a good job working

with us," says Wilburn. "We are working all over the state

but it’s difficult to find property. Prices are going through the

roof. You go where the opportunities are."

In Ewing, as elsewhere, developers are not building "on spec"

but are waiting for a major tenant to come along. Preferred Properties

built 275 Phillips Boulevard, for instance, with Center for Claims

Resolution as the expected tenant, but CCR backed out of 40,000 feet

there. Preferred Properties managed to re-lease the whole building

to Horizon Mercy Healthcare.

Two projects — a Home Depot and a ShopRite — will bring 500

jobs to the township, says Caiola. The 130,000-foot Home Depot will

break ground this month with completion expected for November. S&S

Realty (headed by Jeffrey Sands of the family that owns Hilton Realty)

is developing the former Edwards supermarket site at North Olden and

Parkside and will build a "worldclass Shoprite," comparable

to the one at Montgomery Plaza on Route 206.

To make such a superstore work, S&S Realty needed more space. "We

acquired two adjacent properties," says Hilton’s Mark Hill,

"including Briehler Ice Cream, 2 1/2 acres that was an eyesore.

It gave us greater visibility from Olden Avenue. Also the Carlisi

Auto Body store fronting on Parkside, which gives us another access

and more parking."

S&S Realty will have 150,000 square feet of office and flex space

on Sylvia Street, just off Sullivan Way, and is planning to build

80,000 more. It had purchased two 30,000-foot office flex buildings,

now housing ICI and dotPhoto, and renamed them Enterprise Park. Then

it reconfigured the approvals for the land to two other 30,000-foot

buildings, built them, and renamed that section Ewing Commerce Park.

It has preliminary approvals for an 80,000-square-foot office building

and is waiting for a major tenant to begin construction. Currently

S&S Realty is clearing ground for 272 apartments at that location,

formerly owned by the First Presbyterian Church.

Caiola appreciates the Sands family’s investments because, as he says,

"Everything they do turns to gold, and everything they buy, they

keep."


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