Despite a slowdown in progress during the fourth quarter, the New Jersey office market ended 2014 with stronger leasing volume compared to 2013 and overall positive absorption, according to commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield. Strong performance in the Princeton/Route 1, Hudson Waterfront, Meadowlands, and Woodbridge/Edison submarkets served as bright spots during the final months of the year.

“Slower-than-usual deal volume defined the fourth quarter in most submarkets,” noted Kim Brennan, Cushman & Wakefield’s New Jersey market leader. “Only a handful of regions experienced an uptick. That said, the overall results for the year show progress, albeit modest progress, for the New Jersey office market.”

The office market recorded 8.1 million square feet of leasing during 2014, up 2.6 percent from 2013. During the fourth quarter, 1.86 million square feet of transactions closed.

The Princeton/Route 1 and Woodbridge/Edison submarkets accounted for 55 percent of the fourth quarter leasing activity in Central New Jersey. In Princeton, Blackrock’s 67,000-square-foot expansion at 1 University Square represented the quarter’s largest transaction.

“Still, New Jersey’s overall office vacancy edged higher by 0.6 percentage points during the fourth quarter to end the year at 20.1 percent, up 0.4 percent year over year,” Brennan said. “This is mainly attributable to large blocks coming online throughout the state.”

Central New Jersey saw a nominal decline in vacancy (-0.2 percentage point) to stand at 18.1 percent. Still, the market saw the addition of 261,500 square feet at the former Merrill Lynch Campus (1700, 1750, 1800 Merrill Lynch Drive) in Ewing and 115,000 square feet at Bridgewater Hills Corporate Center in Bridgewater.

Quarter-over-quarter, changes in the market’s asking rents were minimal, declining slightly to $26.08 per square foot. Central New Jersey saw its direct average rate remain steady at $24.48 per square foot, while Northern New Jersey recorded a 1.6 percent decrease to $27.03 per square foot. Compared to one year ago, the overall New Jersey direct average rate has fallen marginally (by $0.21 per square foot). Class A direct rents followed a similar trend in both regions.

“While the fourth quarter performance was somewhat lackluster, the good news is that the market still moved forward year-over-year,” Brennan concluded. “We are optimistic about 2015. Notable deals in the immediate pipeline suggest that the year will get off to a strong start. And with a limited amount of new speculative construction underway, the supply/demand balance is expected to improve steadily.”

Cushman & Wakefield, 333 Thornall Street, Suite 1A, Edison 08837; 732-623-4700; fax, 732-767-9534.

#b#Expansions#/b#

XenoBiotic Laboratories Inc., 107 Morgan Lane, Plainsboro 08536; 609-799-2295; fax, 609-799-7497. Jinn Wu PHD, president. www.XBL.com.

Xenobiotic, a contract research company, has expanded, taking 11,500 square feet of space at 101 Morgan Lane in addition to its existing space at 107 Morgan Lane. Vinny DiMeglio of Colliers International brokered the deal.

#b#Management Moves#/b#

Hill Wallack LLP Attorneys at Law, 202 Carnegie Center, Suite 200, Box 5226, Princeton 08543-5226; 609-924-0808; fax, 609-452-1888. Robert W. Bacso Esq., managing partner. www.hillwallack.com.

Two attorneys have joined the firm. Christopher R. Geary is counsel in the firm, where he is a member of the Community Associations and Construction Industry practice groups.

Geary handles multiple large-scale construction claims on behalf of general contractors and developers, including construction defect claims and has run multiple large construction defect cases on behalf of property owners.

Prior to joining Hill Wallack, Geary served as assistant counsel to the New Jersey Schools Development Authority. He earned his law degree from Boston University School of Law and his bachelor’s from the University of Michigan.

Michael S. Savett is counsel in the Carnegie Center office. Savett has represented property-and-casualty insurance companies in complex coverage matters involving commercial liability, property, employment practices, and errors-and-omissions claims, as well as insurers in coverage and bad faith litigation.

Savett earned his law degree from Temple University Beasley School of Law and his bachelor’s from the University of Delaware.

Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein, & Blader PC, 101 Grovers Mill Road, Quakerbridge Executive Center, Suite 200, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-275-0400; fax, 609-275-4511. Barry D. Szaferman, managing partner. www.szaferman.com.

The law firm of Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein & Blader has promoted Benjamin T. Branche and Eric M. Stein to partner.

Branche concentrates his practice on mergers and acquisitions, tax, trusts, estates, real estate, and business. He has advised companies, organizations, and individuals after earning his law degree from Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in 2004. His bachelor’s degree is from the University of Scranton.

Stein focuses his practice in securities and corporate law, representing public and private companies and investment funds. He assists private companies with direct public offerings, underwritten IPOs, self-filings, and reverse mergers. He advises public companies regarding compliance with federal securities filing requirements.

Stein earned his law degree at Cardozo School of Law in 2001 and his bachelor’s from Rennselaer Polytechnic.

The Times of Trenton, 413 River View Plaza, Trenton 08611; 609-989-5452; fax, 609-989-5739. Joan Mason, Publisher. www.nj.com/times.

Times of Trenton publisher Sheila Gallagher-Montone will retire from the daily newspaper and be replaced by Joan Mason, who is stepping up from vice president of sales.

Gallagher-Montone also came from the paper’s advertising department, which she joined as a sales representative in 1990. She became publisher in 2011 after rising through the ranks at the Times and working for several other publications along the way, including the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Mason joined The Times in 2011 after 24 years with Gannett. Gallagher-Montone said that Mason “has enough history in our industry to be a print expert, but she’s been in a leading role in moving us forward from a print company to a print and digital powerhouse.”

#b#Name Changes#/b#

Branford Hall Career Institute, 651 Route 1, North Brunswick 08902; 732-448-2600; Phillip Orlando. www.branfordhall-us.com.

Anthem, a technical school, has changed its name to Branford Hall Career Institute. Anthem, which now does business as Florida Career College, has locations in Arizona, Texas, and Florida. Branford Hall has locations in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Branford offers training in medical billing and coding, computer networking, and several other career fields.

#b#New in Town#/b#

RX Logix, 500 College Road East, Suite 20, Princeton 08540; www.rxlogix.com.

RX Logix, an IT company serving the pharmaceutical industry, has moved into 1,500 square feet of space on College Road East. The deal was brokered by Vinny DiMeglio of Colliers.

HPL Services LLC, 3525 Quakerbridge Road, Suite 3200, Hamilton 08916; 877-386-7167. www.samedaydumpsterrental.com.

HPL Services LLC has opened an office in Ibis Plaza. The company operates several websites including Same Day Dumpster.

#b#Crosstown Moves#/b#

New Jersey Association of Community Providers Inc., 140 Scotch Road, Ewing 08638; 609-406-1400; fax, 609-406-1442. Kim S. Todd, CEO. www.njacp.org.

The New Jersey Association of Community Providers, a trade association representing organizations that serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has moved from a building on Whitehead Road Extension to a new headquarters on Scotch Road in Ewing.

The group said in a statement that their new office is twice the size of the old one at 6,000 square feet. The building was formerly home to Electronic Service Laboratory, an electronics repair shop.

The new location includes a training center and meeting space. The NJACP plans to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday, January 21, at 11 a.m.

Pennington Counseling, 106 Straube Center Boulevard, Suite 105, Pennington 08534; 609-818-9770; fax, 609-737-0007. Sherry Campbell LPC. www.penningtoncounselingnj.com.

The counseling and mental health office of Sherry Campbell has moved from Route 31 to an office in the Straube Center.

#b#Leaving Town#/b#

Career Planning Concepts, 4444 Route 27, Kingston.

The career counseling firm has closed its Route 27 office. Its listed phone number was not in service.

HCR America LLC, 5 Mapleton Road, Princeton.

SynteractHCR, a contract research organization, has closed its Mapleton Road office. The office was once the headquarters of Harrison Clinical Research, which was bought in 2013 by Synteract to form SynteractHCR, headquartered in Carlsbad, California.

Pedagogue Solutions, 1060 State Road, Princeton.

Saba Solutions, formerly known as Pedagogue, has left State Road. The company has an office in Bridgewater.

#b#Deaths#/b#

Richard B. Fishbane, 61, on December 19. He was past president of the Jewish Center of Princeton and board member of the United Way of Greater Mercer County.

Herbert A. Weakliem, Jr., 88, on January 1. He was a physical chemist at RCA Labs for 28 years before working in solar energy at Chronar Corp.

Mary E. Bullard, 60, on January 5. She retired as assistant vice president of finance and administration at the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

James McNaughton Hester, 90, on January 7. A Princeton resident, he was president of New York University from 1962 to 1975. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, February 7, at 11 a.m. in the Princeton University Chapel.

Philip David Royer, 57, on January 8. He was a section chief for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Clifford Adams, 62, on January 12. The Trenton native was a trombonist with Kool and the Gang, and also performed with Patti Labelle, the Stylistics, as well as other groups (U.S. 1, November 27, 2013).

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