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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the August 28, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

On the Move

Three Jewish organizations have signed a contract to

buy 80 acres on Clarksville Road to build a full service community

center. The deal is contingent not only on West Windsor township approvals

but also on the ability of the three groups to raise funds for land

purchase and construction costs.

Dataram, the computer component manufacturer located on Princeton-Hightstown

Road, bought the acreage 22 years ago for $875,000 and sold it for

$3 million. The contract was signed July 29.

"The deal makes it possible for us to purchase the property at

the end of 2004," says Andrew Frank of United Jewish Federation

of Princeton/Mercer/Bucks, which is partnering with the Ewing-based

Jewish Community Center of the Delaware Valley and the Jewish Family

and Children’s Services of Greater Mercer County. "Over the next

30 months we will be engaged in due diligence on a number of levels."

The new campus could house administrative offices of all three organizations.

Whether the JCC would keep its center in Ewing has not been decided.

The potential per-acre cost of about $37,000 compares with $22,000

and $20,000 per acre paid by West Windsor Township in two recent open

space acquisitions. But the Dataram property is zoned for office,

research, and manufacturing use and is therefore more valuable. Mark

Maddocks, Dataram’s vice president of finance, arranged the deal,

and the Jewish organizations were represented by attorney Ed Bernstein,

along with volunteers experienced in commercial real estate.

The former Dataram property is located between Meadow Road and 25

acres set aside for the proposed West Windsor Technology Center, which

adjoins the BASF/Cyanamid campus. In the current real estate climate

it does not have good prospects for early development. Because the

property is not on a main road it cannot be considered a Class A office

site, and it has no public water or other services.

"Recreation is a great use for that property, considering that

the demand for office development at this point is low, and that other

large tracts in better locations are likely to be developed first,"

says Chuck Segal of Segal Commercial Real Estate.

"We will do engineering studies to find out if this property can

support a community campus, and we are also engaged in negotiations

with the township about what kind of zoning changes might be needed,"

says Frank. "We have done a community survey to determine whether

people want a community campus and what kinds of services they might

like to see there. We conducted 16 focus groups all over Mercer County,

we did 30 key informant interviews, and we sent out a survey to roughly

6,000 people and got back 10 percent replies. Overwhelmingly there

was a positive response, but our final decision is heavily dependent

on what we think we can raise."

"Jewish community campuses have been developing all over the country,"

says Frank, "and in New Jersey we have them in Bridgewater, Scotch

Plains, and Cherry Hill. It will not be a religious campus. My guess

is that policies on participation will be similar to those of the

current agencies."

The three agencies would create a governing structure that would allow

each agency to maintain its own structure, says Frank. His is a fund-raising

organization. It received 2,240 individual donations for a total of

$2,234,000 for its annual campaign. "You might call us the Jewish

United Way," says Frank. These funds help to support the JCC,

the Jewish Family Service, the Center for Jewish Life at Princeton

University, eight Hebrew schools, three Hebrew day schools, and Greenwood

House. Also last year it raised $600,000 for a special Israel/Argentina

emergency fund.

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