Corrections or additions?
These stories by Peter J. Mladineo and Barbara Fox were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on
March 25, 1998. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane
While one financial giant is scaling back on Scotch
Road, another will build on it. As a result of the $16.1 billion merger
with First Union, CoreStates will close its operations center at 370
Scotch Road in Ewing, and 700 employees will either lose their jobs
or be relocated by November (see details below).
But to the north on Scotch Road, bordering Interstate 95, Merrill
Lynch just got the go ahead to develop the 450 acres now owned by
Bristol-Myers Squibb. Encouraged by unusually strong support from
the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce, the Hopewell Township planning
board unanimously approved the plan that will allow Merrill Lynch
to construct up to 3.5 million square feet of office space, plus a
retail village, a hotel, a conference center, and even space for light
The chamber’s board plans to accelerate the stands it takes on important
issues, says William Mate, chamber president. "When there was
controversy about the sewers, we took a very strong stand favoring
the development of the Merrill Lynch parcel," says Mate, who was
formerly in charge of economic development for Mercer County. "The
planning board was hedging. We wanted to show the value to the whole
region, that if Merrill Lynch went across the border to Newtown, they
would still have the traffic but not the ratables."
The park is expected to generate from $6.4 to $7 million in property
taxes and to yield at least $1 million over and above any costs to
the township for municipal services and new residents’ education costs.
At its completion it would have an assessed value of from $370 to
Mate notes that, over the past four years, the chamber had participated
in at least 100 meetings to try to resolve the sewer dilemma. Hopewell
does not yet have sewers, but whatever sewer choices are available
at the time, Merrill Lynch will have a guaranteed source.
Merrill Lynch now has 20 years to do its full buildout. In the first
stage it will seek site plan approval for eight buildings, each three
or four stories high, totaling 1.2 million square feet of office space
for 3,500 of its own employees. The current plan calls for the buildings
have only limited visibility from the Scotch Road entrance; they will
front a campus-like quadrangle of open space and be accompanied by
four parking garages. Merrill Lynch’s original full-scale plan, as
presented in February, included two retail villages, a recreation
center, and a railroad station.
About 3,500 Merrill Lynch employees will be housed by the first phase,
but eventually the park could hold 10,000 or 11,000 employees, of
which 5,000, at most, would belong to Merrill Lynch.
Some opponents protested that, according to a report done by Rutgers
consultants Richard W. Burchell and David Listokin, just five percent
of these workers would move into the township. Others feared the opposite
— suburban sprawl. To deal with some of these concerns the planning
board hopes to hold a workshop in April on creating town centers.
The board asked Merrill Lynch to address possible traffic problems
at Route 546 at the Pennington Circle. The firm will also donate $135,000
to the township to be used toward the purchase of the 167-acre property
next to its municipal complex. Hopewell plans to keep this $1.2 million
as open space.
As recently as February 24, John Georgius, president
of First Union, had speculated that, while the most expensive bank
marriage ever would resort in enormous administrative changes, it
would not necessarily result in the closing of the larger of two CoreStates’
buildings at 370 Scotch Road in Ewing, the operations center.
But last week First Union announced that the facility will be closing
by November. This means that 700 employees will either lose their
jobs or be relocated. So far, 325 customer service employees have
been notified that they would be transferred to other First Union
locations, and more departments will be cut in coming weeks. First
Union will also set up several outplacement centers to deal with displaced
One sliver of good news is that the smaller facility, the corporate
headquarters building at 370 Scotch Road, will not close. It will
become the headquarters of First Union’s southern New Jersey operation,
reports William Mate, president of the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce.
There will be a ton more branch closings — although those aren’t
known as of yet. "Approximately 80 will be closed in New Jersey,"
says CoreStates spokesperson Fran Durst, "but the specific branches
have not been announced yet." That decision could be made as soon
as the federal government finishes its review of the merger. But that
timeframe also is uncertain. "It’s hard for everybody here to
be living under that kind of uncertainty too," says Durst. She
reports that "customers are not going to have any changes. This
is going to be a very seamless transition for them."
Potential duplicates of First Union and CoreStates branches can be
found in many central New Jersey communities. Princeton has neighboring
branches on the same block of Nassau Street, and there are nearby
branches on Trenton’s State Street and on Princeton-Hightstown Road
in East Windsor.
The county has "mixed feelings about the outcome," says Mate,
who notes that with the operations center vacant there will now be
a huge piece of freed Class A office space and a horde of new workers
to fill a tight labor market. "There is a building with a lot
of equipment," says Mate. "The other encouraging thing is
that our market is expanding. The opportunity to rehire these people
is very great. In any merger there are always casualties. I think
we’re fortunate to have them minimized in our area."
Road, Building 2, Cranbury 08512. W. Edward Hammersla III, president
and CEO. 609-371-3000; fax, 609-371-3001. Home page: http://www.ohb.com.
Everyone agrees that the cost of health care is driven
at least partly by administrative expenses. Let’s face it, it costs
money to hire the minions who process health care forms.
This new information technology firm, which spells its name in lower
case letters as "onehealthbank.com," aims to develop a system
to cope with what it terms "exorbitant" administration costs
in the healthcare industries. It is exploring innovative approaches
to using existing technologies such as the Internet, intranets, and
e-commerce in order to realize efficiency and savings in the processing
of claims and payment information.
A company representative says the founders — W. Edward Hammersla
and Dean F. Boyer — have extensive knowledge of integrating technology
systems in order to optimize the performance of business systems.
Gerry Fennelly helped this firm find its 3,500 square foot space,
where it now has a dozen employees.
Building 2, Princeton Junction 08550. 609-936-0700; fax, 609-936-1020.
The environmental consulting firm moved from building nine to building
two, to a space of "comparable" size, says an employee.
08852. Dennis Su, manager. 732-329-0924; fax, 732-329-6238.
The cellular phone company has moved to Route 27 in Kendall Park.
Suite 200, Lawrenceville 08648. 609-844-0013; fax, 609-252-1775.
Formerly known as Jurist Reporting Service, this 16-year-old firm
was bought in February by Esquire Communications Ltd. and has moved
to 1515 Locust Street in Philadelphia. The telephones are answered
by the 609 number.
Princeton 08540. James Twomey, regional manager. 609-734-7900; fax,
James Twomey has replaced George Alexandridis, who has retired. A
civil engineer from the University of Pittsburgh, Twomey manages 45
employees who do transportation planning, highway and structural design,
bridge inspection, construction management, and information management
Princeton 08542. Anne Reeves, director. 609-924-8777; fax, 609-921-0008.
Home page: http://www.princetonol.com/groups/artscoun/.
After nine years Charlotte C. Hussey has left McCarter Theater for
a newly created job here, operations director. The arts center is
in the middle of a capital campaign to raise $3.5 million for renovations
designed by Michael Graves.
Suite 200, Princeton 08540. Kate Carbery, programmer. 609-951-2250;
Icon Consulting Group changed its name to Steelpoint Technologies.
The computer consulting firm specializes in imaging; but its name
was being confused with IKON, the national office supply company,
which was also getting into the imaging business. Kate Carbery, a
programmer for Steelpoint, explains that IKON also gave Icon a slight
monetary inducement to change its moniker.
Street, Princeton 08542. 609-252-1616; fax, 609-252-1633.
Owner Steven N. Ripans knew the obstacles but it was, er, a froth
worth foaming. Opening in the former site of Haagen Dazs above Kinkos
on Spring Street in summer of 1995, he hardly had his sign out on
the street when news hit that Starbucks was coming to Nassau Street.
But Ripans and the Original Princeton Coffee Shop persevered, wowing
customers with big cups, lavish desserts, and games. But after more
than two years in business, the coffee shop, the fourth to open in
Princeton (after Small World, Halo Pub, and Bucks County Coffee Company,
Pike, Building 4, Suite 113, Box 6193, Lawrenceville 08648-0193. Craig
Lafferty, president and chief professional. 609-896-1912; fax, 609-895-1245.
E-mail: email@example.com. Home page: http://www.princetonol.com/groups/uway/index.html.
The United Way has raised $7.06 million in pledges for 1997/98, a
$260,000 increase over last year, says Steven B. Oppen, a vice president
at NEC Research Institute.
Trenton Savings Bank and MetLife Brokerage received the "Spirit
of Caring" awards, and Mary Ann Brown of Princeton Plasma Physics
Laboratory received the second annual Gayle B. Crews Memorial Award,
which honors the former employee of Janssen Pharmaceutica who chaired
United Way campaigns.
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