Johnson & Johnson’s consumer division has taken 163,000 square feet at 23 Orchard Road in Montgomery. “This is the biggest deal in New Jersey in 2008,” says Milt Charbonneau.

Charbonneau, a broker with Colliers Houston & Company’s Princeton office, represented both Johnson & Johnson and the building’s owner, Jamie Herring, a Princeton businessman who, along with several D.C.-based investors, bought 23 Orchard Road from Computer Associates (CA) several years ago.

The office building, which sits on Route 206, was outdated when CA left for offices at PrincetonSouth Corporate Center in Ewing, says Charbonneau. Herring and his partners did a full rehab, spending millions on everything from enhanced amenities to a redesign of the central atrium. New features include an up-to-date fitness center and a cafe. Using the open space around the building, its owners also put in a regulation softball field, a sand volleyball court, a basketball court, and a picnic area.

In this commercial real estate climate, with vacancy rates approaching or exceeding 20 percent in nearly every central New Jersey market, even superior amenities and a fresh rehab are not always enough to attract tenants. In this case, Charbonneau says that the owner’s and the broker’s willingness to be flexible paid off.

“J & J has a flexible deal,” says Charbonneau. “It’s a mix of short-term and long term.” He explains that Johnson & Johnson needed to move some of its departments in right away, and were able to do so while space for other departments was readied.

In one of the most challenging real estate markets in memory, 23 Orchard Road has now succeeded in filling nearly all of its space. Other tenants include Oscient Pharmaceuticals, Blessing White, and Twin Hens, a specialty gourmet food company.

Some space does remain. “A few little pockets are still available,” says Charbonneau. “We have about 30,000 square feet in five units.”

BlackRock Buys Green Warehouse

In mid-year, partners JG Petrucci Co. and F. Greek Development started construction for the 583,136-square-foot Middlesex Intermodal Center and simultaneously agreed to sell the spec development to the New York-based BlackRock. Now both the construction and the sale are done.

On the market in its entirety, the building — on 44 acres — is fully prepared for occupancy. At the same time, the final sale price has been revealed by the Asbury, NJ-based JGPCO and the East Brunswick-based F. Greek as $42.5 million, which factors out to about $73 per square foot. The building is located at 140 Docks Corner Road near the intersection of Herrod Drive in the New Jersey Turnpike Exit 8A submarket. The sale was arranged by brokers from the Florham Park office of Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, representing both sides.

BlackRock is pursuing LEED Silver certification for the building, which has green features, including a solar reflectance roof and a high-efficiency lighting package.

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