Now that Merrill Lynch has sold its investment banking business, and the new owner has signed a lease to stay at Merrill’s Scudders Mill Road campus, Merrill has put that campus on the block. It would be a “lease-back sale,” with the current occupants staying put for from 15 months to five years.
Bristol-Myers Squibb, meanwhile, is said to be selling at least four buildings — three on Scudders Mill and one at Nassau Park — on a similar lease-back arrangement.
Black Rock, the investment banking arm of PNC Bank, had bought Merrill’s investment management business for $9.5 billion in stock. The deal that closed last month reportedly made Black Rock one of the top 10 asset managers in the world. PNC Bank now owns 51 percent and Merrill owns 49 percent of Black Rock.
Black Rock occupies more than half of the 685,000 square feet on the 50-acre campus. Until last week, according to industry insiders, Black Rock was promising to stay only three years, which would have made the property more difficult to sell. When the lease was signed, Andrew Merin, the Cushman & Wakefield broker in charge of marketing the property, started saying publicly that the property was available. “With new property quoting $34 to $35 per foot, we believe the new owners will be very successful renting for $28 to $30,” says Merin. Comparing the offering to an auction, he declines to specify a sale price.
Merrill Lynch occupies 300,000 square feet at Scudder’s Mill and plans to stay less than two years. It has said it will regroup and move all its remaining personnel, including its brokers in the Global Private Client Group, to the Hopewell campus by early in 2008. Merrill Lynch also has about 165 Private Client Group employees who are expected to stay at 7 Roszel Road. “We are ‘restacking’ the Hopewell space to provide for the reorganization,” says Selena Morris, Merrill Lynch spokesperson. “We have been planning this for several years.”
The Scudders Mill property is assessed for $190 million and is paying nearly $3.9 million in taxes to Plainsboro this year. In Hopewell, Merrill Lynch has developed 1.25 million square feet so far and, according to Morris, is reserving 500,000 square feet for its expansion needs. Before the Black Rock sale, Merrill had 6,000 employees in Central New Jersey.
In 1985 when Merrill Lynch starting building its back offices on Scudders Mill Road, it added considerable prestige to the Princeton real estate market. It had also purchased an additional 150 acres as a possible location for its New York headquarters. Merrill decided to keep its headquarters in New York, but it still has the approvals to build nearly 700,000 square-feet on a 54-acre parcel fronting Scudders Mill Road, west of the current campus.
“This is a great value-added offering,” says Merin. A 1970 Bucknell graduate, he had the distinction of representing Prudential when it put up the first speculative buildings at the Forrestal Center. “Over the past five years Princeton has been one of the brighter spots in New Jersey’s real estate market. It is also one of the few places in New Jersey where spec construction is occurring to meet demand.”
Some would say Merin is optimistic. Within five miles of Scudders Mill, Princeton has six competitive campuses that could attract a tenant with more than 100,000 square feet. One broker, Jerry Fennelly of NAI Fennelly, estimates that four million of Princeton’s 18 million square feet are vacant.
Also, because the campus was “purpose built” for Merrill Lynch, it has central systems. Its entrances and exits are not currently suitable for a multi-tenant office building. Merrill’s buildings connect to the 364-room Harrison Conference Center and Hotel that is not for sale.
Merin points out that the Scudders Mill buildings can be subdivided into 30,000 or 40,000 foot spaces, and he cites Cushman & Wakefield’s success in selling large campuses — the AT&T headquarters in Basking Ridge and the AT&T property in Bridgewater — as proof that big campuses need not go empty. He also predicts New Jersey will benefit from the ripple effect from space-squeezed New York.
Bristol-Myers Squibb has reportedly been successful in the quiet sale of its properties at Scudders Mill and Nassau Park. The B-MS deal is likely to attract a more conservative investor who wants a guaranteed return, because B-MS will want to sign long-term, perhaps 30-year, lease-back arrangements. A call to the broker representing B-MS was not returned, but an insider says the bidding has been lively and that an announcement can be expected in 30 to 60 days.
Merrill Lynch Global Private Client (MER), 800 Scudders Mill Road, Box 9000, Princeton 08543-9000; 609-282-1212. Home page: www.ml.com
New in Town: Affordable Housing Lender
Allen Cohen helps affordable housing get built. At the Straube Center earlier this fall he opened the first New Jersey office of Enterprise Community Investment, a for-profit organization under the umbrella of a nonprofit founded by James Rouse, the pioneering real estate developer and philanthropist.
Based in Columbia, Maryland, the umbrella organization, Enterprise Community Partners, finances the construction and the rehabilitation of affordable housing through tax credits, loans, financing. It also gives grants under the Green Communities program for energy conservation, and it finances commercial development through the federal New Markets tax credit program. Cohen’s organization, Enterprise Community Investment, helps developers by rounding up investors.
Until now, New Jersey programs were run from the New York office.
Cohen chose the Straube Center over some other alternatives, like subleasing from a lawyer (too uncertain), renting a shared office (too expensive), and moving to Princeton (he didn’t need the cachet of that zip code). “I don’t need to pretend I am not a one person office,” says Cohen, “and if I need a lot of copying done, I call headquarters in Maryland and they do it for me.”
Cohen grew up in Essex County, where his father worked for the post office, and he and his wife live in Lawrence with their two school-aged children. After majoring in political science at Rutgers and earning his MBA from UCLA, his first job was for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Cohen cut his career teeth on the arcane regulations at HUD, and he leveraged those for the rest of his career, starting in real estate banking for Midlantic and First Fidelity banks. For 10 years he worked did affordable housing lending for GMAC in Horsham, Pennsylvania, until it was acquired by a private equity firm.
Here’s how Cohen works with developers: Developers who are savvy enough to work the system manage to get tax credits for affordable rental housing from the New Jersey Housing & Mortgage & Finance Agency. Then Cohen “syndicates” those credits, bundling them up and selling them to corporations in return for upfront cash for the developer.
Banks can do this tax credit syndication but, says Cohen, “our margin is lower because we deal with a lot of nonprofits. We may do the smaller projects.” Enterprise Community Partners also offers pre-development loans. His current projects include a senior citizen project in Ewing Township.
Since its founding in 1982, Enterprise has syndicated low-income housing tax credit investments to raise more than $6 billion in capital; it helped fund 75,000 affordable homes nationwide. Enterprise also develops housing units, is a mortgage company, and provides capital for commercial and mixed-use development in underserved and emerging markets.
“We were one of the first to get involved with affordable housing,” says Cohen. “We have good relations with a lot of banks and corporations who want to give money but don’t know where to give.”
Red tape and more red tape — that’s what Cohen deals with every day. Pointing out that his very first job was with HUD, Cohen has this advice: “Be wary of the first job you take out of college. You may wind up in that job for the rest of your career.”
Enterprise Community Investment, 106 Straube Center Boulevard, Straube Center, Pennington 08534; 609-730-3823; fax, 609-730-3825. Allen Cohen. Home page: www.enterprisecommunity.org
New in Town — Again
Yoh, 3 Independence Way, Princeton Corporate Center, Princeton 08540; 609-419-0785. www.dayzim.com
Day & Zimmerman, 3 Independence Way, Princeton Corporate Center, Princeton 08540; 609-419-0785. Mark Bognar, regional director. www.dayzim.com
A scientific recruiting firm, Yoh Services, has returned to Princeton after a two-year hiatus. Yoh opened an office on Independence Way at Princeton Corporate Center in 1997, and it left in 2005; it served its New Jersey accounts from its Philadelphia headquarters. In the meantime, Yoh was bought by Day and Zimmerman.
Now Yoh has returned to Independence Way. It is co-locating with a Day and Zimmerman division that provides security personnel. In the lease transaction for 2,200 square feet, Deb Greta of GVA Williams Buschman represented the tenant, and Dan Ackerman represented Mack Cali.
The company was founded in 1940 by H.L. Yoh, and Yoh’s grandson is still working with the firm; he heads the Yoh division. Jeff Rogers is regional president.
The new Princeton site will provide a more accessible and centralized location for Yoh’s regional customers, according to Rogers. It will include three of Yoh’s specialized vertical industry divisions: Yoh IT, Yoh Clinical, and Yoh Scientific.
For companies in the United States Yoh provides long- and short-term temporary and direct placement of technology and professional personnel, as well as managed staffing services. Operating from more than 75 locations it has more than $367 million in sales.
Founded in 1901 and headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa., Day & Zimmerman offers managed services. It has 20,000 employees overall that operate from more than 150 cities worldwide. Mark Bognar is regional director of the Day and Zimmerman securities business on Independence Way. A graduate of Thomas Edison State College, Bognar has 23 years experience in the security business. He grew up in the Edison/East Brunswick area, where his father was a service technician for business machines.
Bognar’s three-person office oversees 150 security personnel. His clients tend to be the petrochemical, technology, and pharmaceutical companies, the higher end companies. Bognar says he is hiring, and that Day and Zimmerman is one of the few companies to offer a 401k for security officers. The business was formerly known as Protection Technology.
Ocean Power Technologies (OPT), 1590 Reed Road, Building A, Suite 1, Pennington 08534; 609-730-0400; fax, 609-730-0404. George W. Taylor, CEO. www.oceanpowertechnologies.com
Ocean Power Technologies, which uses buoys to generate electrical power from ocean waves, plans an initial public offering worth up to $100 million. It has filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission for an offering on Nasdaq and on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market.
Founded in 1984, the company has 30 employees on Reed Road. It will use the money to build wave-power stations for demonstrations, to develop its wave-harnessing system, and to expand its sales and marketing globally.
The joint book-running underwriters are UBS Investment Bank, Banc of America Securities, and Bear, Stearns, and the co-manager is First Albany Capital.
General Electric Company, 105 Carnegie Center, Box 2023, Princeton 08543-2023; 609-734-9777.
In October GE moved its administrative offices from 1 Independence Way, Princeton Corporate Center, to the Carnegie Center. Citing various concerns, including security, it declined to provide details.
Tris Pharma, 2033 Route 130 South, Brunswick Business Park, Suite D, Monmouth Junction 08852; 732-940-2800; fax, 732-940-2855. Ketan Mehta, president. www.trispharma.com
Tris Pharma started out humbly, in incubator space at the Trenton Business and Technology Center, but it leveraged state programs to expand and expand again, officially opening its 30,000 square foot manufacturing facility on October 16. Tris employs about 45 people now and plans to ramp up to 60 by the end of the year when it begins to actually make the over-the-counter and prescription drugs. About two thirds of its space is devoted to the quality control lab, which is meets FDA regulations. The rest is taken up by an R&D lab, an analytical control lab, and administrative offices.
With the new facility the company can provide clinical supplies, submission batches, and medium-scale commercial production of tablets, capsules, liquid suspensions, and oral solutions, and packaging for the finished products.
Using its eXsol platform technology to enhance the solubility of drugs and the level of drugs in the human bloodstream, Tris Pharma develops products for its clients. For instance, it can help a client add controlled release capabilities or more bio-availability.
Founder Ketan Mehta worked with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to obtain $2.9 million in low-cost, tax-exempt bond financing for the renovation and equipment costs. The 10-year bond, backed by a 50 percent EDA guarantee, was purchased by Commerce Bank at a five-year, fixed-interest rate of 4.17 percent. In a similar transaction the EDA had guaranteed 50 percent of a $550,000 Commerce Bank loan in 2002; it helped finance Tris Pharma’s original move from the Trenton Technology Center to Route 130. The guarantee came from the Technology Funding Program.
The company draws its name from Mehta’s belief that three sciences — biology, chemistry, and physics — are essential for drug development. The company’s logo is three entwined circles.
Mehta, a native of India, received his undergraduate training in pharmaceutical science at Gujarat University. His father, an attorney, encouraged him to obtain graduate education in the United States — he holds a master’s degree in pharmaceutical science from the University of Oklahoma. He worked in R&D for Carter Wallace and in marketing and business development for Warner Lambert before starting his own firm.
“The EDA has played an important part in helping us meet this objective by providing the low-cost financing that is letting us grow in a seamless fashion under one roof,” says Mehta.
Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, 105 College Road East, Box 627, Princeton 08542-0627; 609-716-6500; fax, 609-799-7000. Jonathan I. Epstein, partner-in-charge of Princeton office. Home page: www.dbr.com
Philadelphia-based law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath will merge with a Chicago firm, Gardner Carton & Douglas, by next January. When that happens the combined firm will have 12 offices in the United States and more than 650 attorneys. Drinker Biddle has 36 lawyers on College Road and a total of 127 in New Jersey.
Allies Inc., 1262 Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road, Suite 303, Hamilton 08690; 609-689-0136; fax, 609-689-0831. Krystal Odell MED, president/CEO. Home page: www.alliesnj.org
Earlier this year Allies Inc., which offers residential and employment services for individuals with developmental disabilities, expanded from Route 33 to Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road.
The seven-year-old organization helps people to stay in their homes and serves every level of disability — physical or intellectual. “We work hard to get people to live as independently as possible,” says Krystall Odell, the founder.
Allies provides meaningful work through a gift basket company (All in One Basket) and a print and design company (Pyramid Print and Design). “We can do websites, brochures, copying, or design a whole campaign,” she says, citing graphic artists who have talent but may be deaf or autistic. The organization works with high schools and community groups to provide mentoring, helping students focus in area where they can be successful.
CombiPhos Catalysts Inc., 1 Deer Park Drive, Princeton Corporate Plaza, Suite P, Monmouth Junction 08852-; 908-281-7168; fax, 908-281-9698. George Li, owner. Home page: www.combiphos.com
CombiPhos Catalysts, Inc. has moved to a larger, 1,600-square-foot suite within Princeton Corporate Plaza. It provides catalysts as well as boronic acids and esters used in pharmaceutical drug discovery and process projects.
The technology was developed while the company’s president, George Li, was at the DuPont Center of Research and Development, and he decided to license it from DuPont to start his own business. Li earned his undergraduate degree in China and has a PhD in chemistry from Northwestern.
The company, which has joint ventures with two Chinese companies, supplies its product to 240 pharmaceutical companies, including 30 large ones. “We are the only supplier of these novel products,” says Li, “and the major hurdle is keeping up with the growing demand.” Li expects that in the next two to three years his business, which was founded in 2001, will be five to ten times as large as it is today.
Community News Service LLC, 2 Princess Road, Box 2008, Trenton 08607-2008; 609-396-1511; fax, 609-396-1132. James Griswold, publisher. www.communitynewsnj.com
The publisher of several community newspapers has expanded from a Trenton office known only as a post office box to a 1,200 square foot space on Princess Road in Lawrenceville. James Griswold began publishing in 2001. With six employees he publishes the Trenton Downtowner, the Ewing Observer, and the Hamilton Post. He still uses the post office box for a mailing address.
Heights – USA Inc., 1445 Lower Ferry Road, Ewing 08628; 609-530-1300; fax, 609-530-9430. Tim Philburn, operations manager. Home page: www.heights-usa.com
Heights – USA Inc., transferred its assembly operations to its headquarters in Halifax, near Leeds, England. As a result, it downsized from 1406 Lower Ferry Road to 18,000 square feet at 1445 Lower Ferry Road, decreasing from more than 40 employees to only 12.
Heights is a major original equipment manufacturer and parts supplier for the lithographic and flexographic plate processor industries. Even in the digital age, says Tim Philburn, operations manager, printers need plates to transfer ink to paper. When the print run is 100,000 copies, a copy machine simply won’t do.
Founded in 1985, Heights came to Lower Ferry Road in 2001. Philburn is a graduate of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and yes, he keeps his pilot’s license active.
Patience H. (Pat) Hite, 83, on October 27. A civil rights marcher in the 1960s, she started the Holistic Health Association of the Princeton Area and was the executive director.
Samuel E. Nini on October 27. He had a plumbing business and was a project manager with the N.J. Department of the Treasury.
John Stiegman, 83, on October 31. He had been the head football coach at Rutgers, Penn, and Iowa Wesleyan and an assistant coach at Princeton from 1949 to 1952. A service will be Friday, November 17, at 12:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church at Lawrenceville.
William E. Speers Jr., 82, on October 31. He had been chief administrative officer at William Sword & Company.
Barbara Lee Sutton, 52, on November 1. She had been associate director of the Office of Population Research at Princeton University.
Cornelia Van Der Lee, 65, on November 8, of scleroderma. She had been executive vice president of Princeton Microfilm on Princeton-Hightstown Road.
Dan Oberst, 58, on November 9, of renal cell carcinoma. He was director of enterprise infrastructure services in the Office of Information Technology at Princeton University. A service will be Saturday, November 18, at 1:30 p.m. at Edith Memorial Chapel, Lawrenceville School.
Patrick F. Migliaccio 63, on November 12. He was a special representative at New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company and was former president of the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders.