Corrections or additions?
These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the
August 22, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane: Real Estate
Adding to its already substantial real estate holdings
in central New Jersey, Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) has purchased
the 134-acre tract on Princeton Pike in Lawrence that was to have
become a new corporate headquarters for RCN (Nasdaq: RCNC).
The pharmaceutical giant, whose worldwide medicines headquarters sits
just down the road on Route 206, paid $40 million for the land. RCN
had paid $25.5 million just one year ago, and planned to build a 1.5
million-square-foot complex. The telecom company, ensnared in that
industry’s woes soon after contracts on the parcel were signed, had
obtained approval from Lawrence Township to build 10 buildings on
the site, last used by Union Camp.
Nancy Bavec, spokesperson for RCN, says the land was sold because
"the need really is no longer there." The company, with
at Carnegie Center, where it occupies buildings 506 and 105, saw the
price of its stock drop from $27 late last summer to under $3 earlier
in the spring. It is now trading at about $3.75. "We’re sort of
running a taut ship," Bavec says. "The current plan is to
be very prudent with resources, to be a lot more efficient with how
RCN, which sells bundled communications services to residential
over its own fiber optic network in selected big cities, is now
on increasing sales in existing markets rather than adding new
Bavec says another change is that the company is moving away from
a centralized operation to one where each market has more
for its bottom line. The result, she says, is a need for less support
staff at headquarters, and no current need to build a larger
RCN has retained an option to build on the land, but Bavec says
don’t have any plans to do so now." Under terms of the sale, RCN’s
building could be as large as 403,000 square feet, and the company
would occupy it as a tenant. Bevac says that, for now, RCN plans to
stay in Carnegie Center.
Bristol-Myers does not have concrete plans for its new
land. "One of the things Bristol-Myers looks at is its future
in New Jersey," says Tracy Munford, community affairs manager.
"It looks at the state as a whole, and at the central Jersey
in particular." The 134-acre site, so close to its front door,
could be used for expansion, but the company does not have anything
specific in mind.
The company is moving to landscape the site and "make it more
presentable to the public," says Munford. RCN had demolished
on the site, and dug the foundation for one building. Bristol-Myers’
landscaping plan has been approved by Lawrence Township, Munford says.
An important element is the preservation of the Brearley Oak, the
site’s most impressive tree, believed to be about 250 years old.
RCN, a standalone public company for only four years, is but an acorn
compared with Bristol-Myers, whose roots go back as far as 1887. As
RCN is retrenching, Bristol-Myers is expanding. In addition to
the land on which a new RCN headquarters was to stand, it is planning
for two new buildings on its Lawrence campus, most probably to be
used, Munford says, to house administration offices and labs. In
the company is developing 433 acres in Hopewell, where it has 1
square feet of office and laboratory space and development rights
to add another 1.8 million square feet.
— Kathleen McGinn Spring
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