Most everybody in West Windsor has some opinion about the transit village being proposed for the area around the Princeton Junction train station and developer Steven Goldin is no exception.

The difference is that Goldin not only has some opinions about the transit village, but his firm — InterCap Holdings — also controls 170,000 square feet of office space on 25 acres on Washington Road adjacent to the train station. And, unlike most others involved in the debate over the transit village proposal, Goldin says he is willing to spend some of his own money to help the concept move forward.

The educational process that Goldin envisions is getting a kick-start this Wednesday, October 3, at 6 p.m., when the New Jersey chapter of the Congress of the New Urbanism — of which Goldin is co-chair — meets at the Princeton Public Library.

The subject: “How local land use laws can support new urbanist development.” Says Goldin: “While several New Urbanism projects proceed by way of redevelopment, there are several recent New Jersey court cases that will discourage some communities from using the redevelopment process. Meanwhile, the Municipal Land Use Law is in need of comprehensive updating with tools to promote innovative forms of smart growth, transit-orientated development, and traditional neighborhood design.”

Among the presenters: David Frizell, who will discuss “Smart Growth and the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law;” Robert Kirkpatrick, an engineer and planner, “Ins and the Outs of the Residential Site Improvement Standards;” Jim Constantine, director of community planning for Nassau Street-based Looney Ricks Kiss, the moderator, who will present an overview of form-based codes, a new form of design-based regulation that is starting to supplement conventional zoning across the nation. The meeting and a light dinner is open to the public; cost is $15 payable at the door.

When West Windsor’s charrette process, led by Hillier Architects, bogged down this past spring, Goldin offered to underwrite a more comprehensive charrette. The township rejected that offer. Now Goldin says he is ready to proceed on his own with a series of initiatives designed to educate West Windsor residents about transit oriented developments and to elicit their views about what they would like to see in their town center.

“Our goal is to help a broader section of West Windsor residents understand the opportunities,” says Goldin, noting that the charrettes attracted 500 residents at most while the population of the township is around 23,000. “We want to help people visualize what the opportunity is.”

Goldin and InterCap were among the controversial players in the Hamilton Township transit village development near the train station there. He since has sold his interest in the residential component of that development, and says he has learned some lessons from the process. “In Hamilton people felt they had no say,” Goldin says. “It’s important to do what West Windsor is doing and involve the public.”

In the coming weeks and months Goldin plans to “provide resources for professional services” that West Windsor’s $330,000 charrette process was not able to afford.

In addition, InterCap has funded the creation of a standard template for a Request for Proposals (RFP) that municipalities could use to hire planners to conduct charrettes. The template was created by the nonprofit National Charrette Institute (www.charretteinstitute.org). The template, which can be modified to fit the specific criteria of individual communities, is available for free at the InterCap website (www.InterCapHoldings.com).

Among Goldin’s other initiatives planned for the coming months:

Present a “photo-realistic” video rendering of the transit village envisioned by the Hillier charrettes. “We’re not trying to endorse any one plan,” says Goldin, “but this will allow people to move through the project as if it were already built. The whole conceptual plan is difficult for people to know what it really might feel like.”

Commission a public opinion survey — Opinion Research and Gallup are being asked to submit proposals — to determine what West Windsor residents would value most in a town center.

Release a financial study of the costs associated with a parking deck at the train station. One of the few things that West Windsor residents agree on is the need for more parking at the train station, where some commuters now sit on waiting lists for years before getting a permit to park. Opponents of the transit village have suggested that the town build its own parking structure reserved for West Windsor residents. Goldin says that the study will show that such a project will be prohibitively expensive.

Commission a study of school children demographics within transit villages served by high achieving school districts such as West Windsor-Plainsboro. One reason the transit village planning process got derailed last spring was that the Hillier concept included provisions for 1,000 new units of housing. While the architect insisted that such housing would not be attractive to families with school age children, opponents of the transit village argued that it would, and that the resulting influx of schoolchildren would make the project a burden on taxpayers.

Goldin says that objective data can help determine how many school children can be expected. There are roughly 100 transit villages now in place throughout the country. By finding ones with school districts that are comparable to West Windsor’s, an “apples to apples” comparison could be made.

“As all this information comes out,” says Goldin, “we think it will change some thinking.”

New in East Windsor:

Park for R&D Firms

Using land in East Windsor that his family has owned for 35 years, Michael J. Simon has broken ground on the first of four buildings for small R&D firms. With SciPark he aims to tap the potential of Princeton as a petri dish for biotech businesses.

The 32.3-acre site is located at Old Trenton Road near the intersection of Princeton-Hightstown Road, and across from Windsor Corporate Park. It can hold four buildings, facing each other for a plaza effect, and totaling 240,000 square feet. The entry drive is a central boulevard, and trucks use an outer drive. Amenities include a jogging path and picnic tables plus private drives, corporate signage, 18’ ceilings, 50’ x 22’ column spacing, effluent cleaning areas, and an under-floor drainage system.

Founded in 1946 by Michael’s father and uncles, Simon Development has developed 39 sites and still owns five of them. Its current focus is on small modular spaces for uses from 6,000 to 40,000 square feet.

CUH2A designed the first SciPark building, 65,975 square feet, with a brick and glass exterior. Chester, Ploussas, Lisowsky Partnership did the site planning. Woodmont Properties, the joint venture partner, is doing the construction.

John K. Cunningham of GVA Williams is the leasing broker. The project was announced three years ago (U.S. 1, August 18, 2004) but was delayed. Now tenant fit-out is scheduled for next April.

Even though SciPark is expensive to build, it is reasonable in comparison to retrofitting another space to be a laboratory, says Simon. “The spaces are small but bigger than an incubator and much smaller than the competitive private developers.”

Simon grew up in Teaneck, where his father, David Simon, was one of the first postwar industrial developers. A 1975 graduate of Columbia, Simon completed most of the course work for a PhD in English from Brown, learned Japanese, and worked in Tokyo, where he met his future wife. A multi-faceted personality, self-labeled as “a bit of a nerd,” he also speaks Spanish and French. As an avid web page developer, he uses the latest bells and whistles for the SciPark web page.

Labs are new for Simon, who had been building small warehouses on reasonably priced smaller plots of land where streets have been cuts and city blocks formed. “If you are a small developer,” he points out, “it is hard to find three to five acres.”

He found success in Twin Rivers, which has what he calls “reasonable” setback requirements. He built two warehouses there, one on Lake Drive occupied now by Windsor Tech, the electronics equipment recycling firm, and one on Twin Rivers Drive occupied by NexMed. NexMed, the company developing a cure for impotence, wanted to fit out the warehouse as laboratory.

“Then I asked, why am I building warehouses? Why don’t I just build laboratories,” says Simon. “That’s how I got the idea of SciPark.”

Defense Park Set

For Picatinny Arsenal

Though the Picatinny Arsenal Army base is closing, a 1.1 million square-foot project within the base has begun. Advance Realty Group, known for developing two corners of Vaughn Drive and Alexander Road, is building what it calls the Picatinny Applied Research Campus.

Advance, based in Bedminster, is doing the project in partnership with InSitech Inc., which represents the U.S. Army’s Picatinny Arsenal/Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center. The Department of Defense has special provisions for leasing excess land and buildings to private companies.

After demolishing six buildings on the six-acre site, Advance will build two single-story office buildings, each 27,500 square feet, and a two-story, 70,000-square-foot office building.

Peter Cocoziello, CEO of Advance, cites interest from defense contractors and other companies that want to be near Picatinny Arsenal.

Princeton South

The first of six office buildings at PrincetonSouth Corporate Center is 70 percent leased and is nearly ready for its occupants to move in. The second building is slated to be ready in February.

CA took 83,000 square feet, leaving behind 170,000 square feet at 23 Orchard Road. The Orchard Road property, which will soon house only Blessing White, is for sale.

Valuation Research will move from Nassau Park into 8,520 square feet of office space on the second floor. A national firm, it specializes in assessing the value of companies, real estate, machinery and equipment.

Mercer Oak Realty, which is representing the project, will take 2,070 square feet. Headed by Aubrey Haines and Sab Russo, the company has five employees.

Opus East plans to build three three-story and three four-story Class A office buildings, plus a hotel/conference center, several restaurants, and a bank branch office. They broke ground exactly a year ago. Both the design and the construction was accomplished in-house.

In the first building 8,000 square feet has been set aside for a conference center that can hold up to 80 people, a fitness center, and a cafe operated by Princeton-based Gallery Cafe.

Founded in Rockville, Maryland, in 1994, Opus East has developed more than 13 million square feet. The parent company is headquartered in Minneapolis.

CA (Computer Associates) (CA), Route 206 and Orchard Road, Box 8, Princeton 08543-0008; 908-874-9000; fax, 908-874-0420. Thomas Appel, properties manager. Home page: www.ca.com.

Valuation Research Corp., 100 Nassau Park Boulevard, Princeton 08540; 609-452-0900; fax, 609-452-7651. John Gruenemeier, senior vice president.

Spec Building at 8A

Principal Real Estate Investors is building a big box distribution building at Exit 8A that is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year. The 983,320-square-foot speculative project has 56.6 acres at Cranbury South River Road at Costco Way. It is being marketed by Cushman & Wakefield’s Stan Danzig, Jules Nissim, Frank Caccavo, and Jason Goldman.

Based in Des Moines, Iowa, Principal Real Estate Investors is the real estate group of Principal Global Investors.

Crosstown Moves

Carchman, Sochor, Ragsdale & Cohen LLC, 37 Tamarack Circle, Princeton 08540; 609-924-7179; fax, 609-683-9501. Richard A. Ragsdale, partner. Home page: www.NJ-Lawyer.com.

Richard Ragsdale moved his law office from the first floor of 457 North Harrison Street, where Genmab, the Denmark-based biotech firm on the second floor, is gradually taking over the expired leases on the first floor.

“There were no comparable spaces available in Princeton,” says Ragsdale, who is now leasing from Jane Altman (Altman, Legband, and Mayrides) at 37 Tamarack Circle in Montgomery Knoll. He shares a receptionist and a conference room. Though the move was an upheaval, after two decades, the commute to his home is five minutes shorter.

One of his partners, Leonard Schwartz, died last year, and so the name of the firm dropped from five names to four, including Abraham Carchman, who founded the firm and whose son, Judge Philip Carchman, founded the Princeton office. Two partners and two associates are in the Florham Park office. Ragsdale (Stanford ‘65 and ‘69) focuses on commercial litigation and transactions, defamation, and first amendment law.

Freedom Mortgage, 29 Emmons Drive, Suite A-5, Princeton 08540; 609-720-0730; fax, 609-720-0733. Fred Concepcion, branch manager. Home page: www.letfreedomhelp.com.

Freedom Mortgage moved on August 1 from 3,900 square feet at 3490 Route 1 North, where it had several sublessors, to its own space of 800 feet, at 29 Emmons Drive. A licensed mortgage banker and broker, it makes residential, commercial, and Small Business Administration loans. It has a headquarters in Mt. Laurel.

Gannett Fleming Inc., 3575 Quakerbridge Road, Suite 203, Hamilton 08619; 609-584-9592; fax, 609-279-9436. Dave Hassrick, regional manager. Home page: www.gannettfleming.com.

Gannett Fleming has moved from 200 Wall Street in Princeton. The firm does environmental engineering, remediation, surface water discharge and air permitting, system engineering design, and construction management.

Deaths

Alice Loretta Male on June 9. She and her late husband, former Princeton Borough mayor Raymond F. Male, had a bookstore on Nassau Street. A service will be Saturday, October 6, at 4 p.m. at the Friends Meeting at 479 Quaker Road.

Charles Berry, 77, on September 2. A specialist in industrial organization and applied microeconomics at Princeton University, he devised an analytic tool “Berry Ratio.”

Sallie Brophy Goodman, 78, on September 18. A theater professional and actress and the wife of George “Adam Smith” Goodman, she had a speech coaching firm, Public Presentations. A memorial service will be at McCarter’s Berlind Theater at a future date.

Kenneth H. Francis, 48, on September 29. He was an admissions representative for the Chubb Institute in New Brunswick.

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