Herring Management, the Orchard Road-based real estate group, has quietly been building a portfolio of industrial, office, and residential space along the I-95 corridor, with properties in Ewing, Princeton, Montgomery, and Bristol, Pennsylvania. On September 18 another piece fell into place with the opening of a 70,000-square-foot office building in the Bristol Commerce Center.
“I’m very bullish,” said company founder and CEO Jamie Herring. “I think the I-95 corridor is a terrific corridor for companies to have their headquarters.”
The new building in Bristol is a milestone for the 81-acre, 1 million square foot campus, which was once the site of a 3M paint factory. After the 350,000 square-foot factory closed in 2000, the property sat vacant until Herring bought it in 2002. Herring gutted it, along with the adjacent steam plant, added 40 loading docks, and split the building into 10 to 15 different suites for light manufacturing and distribution.
Today that building is fully occupied. The rest of the campus was subdivided into four other lots and building sites totaling 700,000 square feet.
Around 2007 Herring built concrete pads for future buildings in hopes of luring tenants who needed a quick completion time. The tenants were slow to arrive, but the chemical company Airgas arrived in 2012 to build a 250,000 square-foot headquarters in six months, a facility that includes manufacturing space as well as 50,000 square feet of office space that serves as the headquarters of the company’s safety division.
The building that opened in September houses a Goodyear Tire facility that serves as a warehouse, distribution center, and a vehicle repair shop. It is also home to Drexel Metals, and an electrical distribution and industrial equipment company, Turtle & Hughes.
Altogether, more than 425 people now work at the business park, with another two building sites — at 250,000 and 70,000 square feet — ready to go. Herring says the location is perfect for light industry or a data center. “Because Bank of America has a data center near us, there are already feeds for fiber and electric,” he says.
Herring Grew up in Princeton, where his father was a scientist and his mother was a fundraiser for nonprofit institutions, most recently Rutgers. He went to college at Johns Hopkins and earned a business degree from Colombia. He graduated in the early 1990s, during a development boom, and went to work for Jones Lang LaSalle and RCN.
At Lasalle Herring specialized in buying, rehabilitating, and repurposing old buildings and corporate headquarters, a skill which came into play once he started his own company. At RCN he bought property and planned a giant corporate headquarters, then a fast-flying local cable company. But those plans evaporated amid the bankruptcy of RCN, and the property, on Princeton Pike near I-95, was sold to Bristol Myers-Squibb. BMS announced last week that they are planning to build a large office building there, although Herring is no longer involved with the project.
Other Herring properties include a 234,000 square-foot office building on Orchard Road near Route 206, which was once the headquarters of Computer Associates. Herring spent $3 million renovating the building before leasing space to GP Strategies and Wireless Asset Management. That site is also slated for 190 townhomes. It also carries the distinction of having one of the state’s largest solar power plants providing electricity to the office. The seven acres of photovoltaic cells provide a yearly average of 40 percent of the office building’s electricity.
Herring also owns a plot on Scotch Road near I-95 next to the Trenton-Mercer Airport, that it is calling Airport Corporate Park. Herring bought that property in 2005, and sold part of the parcel off for the Elements Hotel, and is approved for 250,000 square-feet of office buildings.
Herring has a smaller footprint in Princeton, with about 30 residential rental units, and two office buildings on the Witherspoon Street site of the old Princeton Hospital. The buildings used to be medical offices, and Herring is currently renovating them into modern office space.
Herring’s work has not been accompanied by a great deal of publicity. “I work a lot with the townships,” he explains. “I think I know what they want, and I want to make sure they get what they want before we make a big deal about it with public relations. I like to work with communities and get buy-in with my projects. I never found it to be too helpful to tell people what I’m doing until I’ve done that.”
— Diccon Hyatt
Herring Properties, 23 Orchard Road, Suite 203, Skillman 08558; 908-874-5400; fax, 908-874-5498. James P. Herring, owner. www.herringproperties.com.