After four years lying fallow, steel has been raised on the 302,000-square-foot behemoth at University Square, near the corner of Alexander Road and Route 1, across from the Hyatt. When it broke ground in 2000, it was billed as the single largest speculative building in the Princeton area.
GVA Buschman reportedly has the leasing contract for this property, though that could not be confirmed by press time. Reckson Associates Realty Corporation is the developer, as listed on its website (www.reckson.com).
As designed, the five-story building would feature a two-story atrium lobby, a modern fitness center, a first-class dining facility, and teleconferencing and boardroom facilities. It would be more than twice the size of most Carnegie Center buildings, including its five-story competitor, a 140,000 square foot five-story building now being developed by Hilton Realty on the west side of the Carnegie Center. The Reckson property will be one-third larger than 100 College Road West (the long metal and glass building just south of Forrestal Village), and 25 percent larger than the biggest building in College Park at the Forrestal Center, 600 College Road.
Reckson’s staff of 25 architects, plus those from the Cannon Group, did the drawings. Thanks to a design with one long swooping curve plus triangular outjuttings, this building will have no fewer than 12 corner offices per floor.
Matrix first developed the University Square site and sold the property, fronting Route 1, to Reckson for about $13 million. The sale included three existing buildings and 18 acres of adjacent land for $5 million, or $16 per developable square foot. The five-story building was supposed to have been finished by the fall of 2001 but construction stopped that year.
It seems that, during the initial excavation, some environmental contamination from Hayden Chemical was found. Hayden Chemical made penicillin during World War II. In the 1950s the property had been owned by American Cyanamid, before that firm moved south to Quakerbridge Road in the 1960s. Construction stopped in 2001 so that the site could be cleaned up, though there was speculation in the commercial real estate community about other reasons. Last fall Jerry Fennelly predicted that Reckson’s strategy was to wait until the market improved, and that, in fact, the building would be ready by 2006.
Last spring Finn Wentworth (formerly of Gale & Wentworth) was reportedly interested in buying the property for Normandy Realty, but that potential sale did not go through.
West Windsor Township Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh says he met with the owners, who said they have seen sufficient leasing interest to go ahead with construction. Noting the Hilton Realty development at 902 Carnegie Center, the mayor points out that West Windsor is attractive to many businesses. "Statewide, not too many Class A buildings are under construction," says the mayor. "But we have two Class A projects under way."
Meanwhile the 47,000-square-foot, two-story building next door, at 693 Alexander Road, remains empty. Built by Compass Realty and Development in the style of a French chateau, it formerly housed an industrial facility, the Rosenblad company. Capstar, a for-profit division of the Educational Testing Service, had made ambitious plans to take the whole building, but that firm was sold to Thomson Prometric earlier this year.
Capstar’s new owners, Thompson Prometric, had a deal with ETS that the former Capstar employees could lease space on the Rosedale Road campus through October. So during the summer 100 former employees of Capstar moved from Rosedale Road to the Thomson Peterson’s building on Lenox Drive at Princeton Pike Corporate Center.
Thomson Prometric, based in Baltimore, is headed by Michael Brannick, who was CEO when the 2000 Lenox Drive building was developed for Thomson Peterson’s. He was transferred from Thomson Peterson’s to the CEO job at Thomson Prometric in 2001, and he commuted to Baltimore for a year before moving to Bel Air, Maryland.
"We’ve been in the process of integrating Capstar into Thomson Prometric for a year and acquired a lot of great employees," says Brannick. Capstar had 600 people, most of them in testing sites throughout the country. Thomson Prometric has 3,000 workers and the parent firm, Thomson, based in Stamford, Connecticut, has 38,000 employees worldwide. According to a press release, Thomson Prometric’s contract with Educational Testing Service amounts to $1 billion.
Thomson companies now occupy less than half of the 140,000 square foot building at 2000 Lenox Drive, and former Capstar employees occupy about half of Thomson’s space.
Brannick says he based an important decision for his Baltimore headquarters on his good experience with purpose-built construction on Lenox Drive. "We were able to design the Lenox Drive space to help the workflow and be thoughtful about where employees come to collaborate,"he says.
Now Brannick is expanding his headquarters from one waterfront building in Baltimore to a five floors of a new 17-story building with a harbor view, where his firm has been able to design its 85,000 square-foot space.
"We evaluated staying in our current space versus going into a building that was built for us. I had some success in the building built for Thomson Peterson," he says. "But it is a lot different going to a high rise office building in Baltimore than to a former cornfield. Not that the cornfield wasn’t nice."
Shiseido America Inc., 366 Princeton-Hightstown Road, East Windsor 08520; 609-371-3107; fax, 609-371-8170. Takashi Kato, president. www.shiseido.com
Shiseido has broken ground on a $7 million, 53,000 square-foot perfume and makeup plant. At this new plant it can work with flammable alcohols for the fragrance business. The current facility packages powder, lipstick, and moisturizers made elsewhere.
Steven Tiberio designed the building to be built by Penn Valley Construction with a target date for occupancy of next fall.
Based in Tokyo, Shiseido is the fourth largest cosmetics company globally, and it claims about four percent of the U.S. market share for high-end cosmetics. This plant, set on 88 acres, will now be Shiseido America’s North American headquarters. A warehouse will be closed in South Brunswick.
New Jersey Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, 5 Independence Way, Suite 300, Princeton 08540; 609-799-3799; fax, 609-799-3988. Linda Fisher Avatar, executive vice president. Home page: www.naifanj.com
The association, formerly for those selling life insurance, now including financial advisors as well, downsized and moved its two-person staff in June from Princeton Meadows Office Center to Office Gallery on Independence Way. Founded in 1935, it meets at the Hilton Garden Inn in the Raritan Center in Edison on second Tuesdays, usually at 9 a.m. Phone and fax are the same.
Suven Life Sciences USA LLC, 1100 Cornwall Road, Monmouth Junction 08852; 732-274-0037; fax, 732-274-0501. Jasti Venkat, president & CEO. Home page: www.suven.com
The carbohydrate-based drug discovery company has moved from 6,000 square feet at 7 Deer Park Drive in Monmouth Junction to 4,000 square feet on Cornwall Road. It has from 5 to 10 employees.
Formerly known as Synthon Chirogenics and based in Hyderabad, India, it has technology to produce high purity chiral intermediates for the pharmaceuticals market. It manufactures and supplies bulk active, drug intermediates and fine chemicals.
Last month it signed a $2 million 18-month contract to study potential drug candidates for chronic lower back pain.
Blue Marsh Laboratory Inc. Environmental Testing, 261 Route 130, Bordentown 08505; 609-298-5255; fax, 609-298-4225. Kevin Murphy.
Blue Marsh Laboratories closed a 9,000 square foot office at Research Park and moved, last summer, to Bordentown. "Now we are close to all the major arteries," says Kevin Murphy, who is one of the sales people for the firm. Phone and fax are new. Founded in 1979, the firm has four employees in Bordentown and a headquarters in Douglassville, Pennsylvania. The environmental testing laboratory formerly known as Chyun Associates tests soil, drinking water, and waste water.
CJ Pharma, 1 Executive Drive, Suite 245, Fort Lee 07024; 201-708-3316; fax, 201-461-9926. Intae Jang, vice president. Home page: www.cjpharma.com
After four years at the Carnegie Center the pharmaceutical division of the largest food manufacturer in Korea moved with the bio division to Fort Lee. "The focus is more on business development and licensing rather than direct sales," says Gi Kim, whose does corporate development and licensing development.
Established in 1953, CJ Corp. produces food products and medicines plus bio products such as MSG and nucleic acid. Those products are exported worldwide through a production base in Indonesia. In addition, CJ Corp. does businesses in livestock feed, pig breeding and poultry farming in the Philippines and Indonesia.
Richard W. Watkins, 83, on November 3. He had been a test designer at
Educational Testing Service.
Vickramasigam Arunasalam, 70, on November 9. He was a principle
research physicist at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
James C. Ford, 63, on November 10. He worked at the Institute for