Williams-Sonoma, 340 Middlesex Drive, North Brunswick.
The beleaguered Exit 8A warehouse market got some good news last week when San Francisco-based kitchen products retail giant Williams-Sonoma announced that it had picked up 1.35 million square feet at 340 Middlesex Drive in North Brunswick.
Williams-Sonoma will occupy the space starting June 14 as a distribution center for its northeastern and international markets. The company is consolidating several of its regional distribution sites into this one facility.
There is no word yet on how many jobs the consolidation will bring, but Williams-Sonoma will be the first occupant of the warehouse, which was built by Industrial Developments International in 2008.
Terms of the deal were not released, but according to commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield of northern New Jersey, warehouse and industrial rents in Middlesex County average around $4.80 per square foot.
The site itself is expected to offer 2.5 million square feet in three buildings once it is fully occupied.
In a written statement, IDI vice president of regional development Frank Petkunas said the deal “represents a clear endorsement of the strategic benefits associated with operating a distribution facility in New Jersey.” If so, it is an increasingly rare sentiment among distributors in the Exit 8A market. The area between Cranbury and North Brunswick suffers one of the lowest occupancy rates in the state — around 35 percent of available square footage is vacant — and has seen several sites close over the past year. The most notable exoduses were pharma giant Pfizer and financial powerhouse Dow Jones, which took about 500 jobs with them when they left.
Since the two blockbuster departures, national freight shipper CSX also announced plans to leave, but there have been glimmers of hope in the Exit 8A industrial market. In December Cushman & Wakefield announced that it had sold three properties covering 826,000 square feet, for an undisclosed sum.
Newmark Knight Frank, 301 Carnegie Center, Suite 301, Princeton 08540; 609-896-1600; fax, 609-896-1753. John H. Buschman, managing principal. Home page: www.newmarkkf.com.
Newmark Knight Frank’s Princeton office has closed three deals to lease approximately 31,000 square feet at the 105,000-square-foot Crossroads Corporate Center building at the intersection of Route 1 and Interstate 95 in Lawrence.
Strayer University, which aims its college degree programs at working adults, signed a long-term lease for 15,000 square feet on the first floor when it moved into Crossroads in December. Aton Pharma, added approximately 4,000 square feet to its operation there and now leases a total of 10,600 square feet. Ramco Systems, on the first floor of Crossroads, took 6,400 square feet down the hall to accommodate Strayer.
“While the overall office market remains relatively soft, we’ve seen a recent pick-up in activity across the board,” said Tom Romano, a managing principal at Newmark’s Princeton office. Romano represented the building’s owner, Gilbane, in all three transactions.
“Given the current market climate, the economic terms of these leases were attractive to the tenants, but the strong amount of activity has more to do with the fact that this building is located at the crossroads of the two main thoroughfares in the greater Princeton office market and tenants almost always weigh decisions on location,” Romano said.
The Princeton office market, though struggling through a roughly 22-percent vacancy rate, is considered to be in comparatively good shape.