The Princeton office demand was consistent in the first quarter with 180,000 square feet of office space leased, making owners feel good about their investments in real estate, after a corporate pull back in the fourth quarter of 2018. Genmab, a Danish Pharmaceutical Co., headquartered in Copenhagen, led the way with its lease consideration for 777 Scudders Mill Road for 90,000 square feet, expanding five-fold in New Jersey.
Princeton will continue its leadership in research and knowledge jobs creating a specific internationally known “Knowledge Center.” The Princeton research initiative dates back to World War I and II when the emphasis was to put the smartest people together in one place creating the highest concentration of PhDs in places like the Institute for Advanced Study and Princeton University.
Mercer County has this same consistent educational base with 49 percent of the working/living population having earned a Masters or PhD. This population falls into specific categories such as physicists, neuroscientists, electro material researchers, molecular biologists, photonic researchers, and computer science researchers serving the private and public sector.
Why is this important? Because Princeton competes globally with other knowledge cities for jobs and a stronger economy. It is important to slow the outflow of population. Competing regions with Princeton are Cambridge, Massachusetts, a major bio competitor. BMS sent 200,000 square feet of office research space from Hopewell to Boston, then placed their 1.3 million square foot research facility on the market last year; Austin, Texas, where Apple expanded with 5,000 employees; Saint Louis, Missouri for bio and IT; and the Washington, DC, area, north into Maryland, which has become a significant data center area and recently, Amazon announced an increase of 25,000 jobs in the DC area.
These competing cities have been appealing to millennials for the last 10 years. Baby Boomers (and their companies) are moving out of New Jersey, and millennials continue to find jobs in competing cities. Eventually, when large cities become prohibitive for families, a rebound effect is possible in the next 10 years bringing population growth back to Mercer County.
This area offers easy access to trains, airports and highways. Ten years is a long time to wait so the continuation of promoting Princeton as a knowledge center will bring international companies to expand their research in bio, photonics, and artificial intelligence.
NAI Fennelly is a Corporate Real Estate Service firm specializing in the Greater Princeton Office and Laboratory real estate markets. www.fennelly.com.