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This article by Barbara Fox was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on October 6, 1999. All rights reserved.
RCN Plans Headquarters Move
Now that major building projects are nearing completion
— and even as more projects are being announced — Princeton’s
commercial real estate scene is opening up. Companies needing to expand
are able to stay in Princeton by moving just a short distance away.
It’s like a game of musical chairs with more chairs and more players
added with each round.
After five years at the Carnegie Center, RCN Corporation is planning
to build its own 500,000 square foot headquarters. That’s the good
news. The bad news is that it may not stay in Princeton. Meanwhile
two more office parks are in the works: National Business Parks has
a gleam in its eye for a 350,000 square foot cluster of buildings
along Route 1, and Princeton Forrestal Center has found a developer
for 60 acres next to Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
RCN Corp. — flush with cash from billionaire Paul Allen —
plans to build a new three or four-building headquarters on 50 to
75 acres. Whether RCN stays in Princeton or moves to eastern Pennsylvania
has not been decided, says Bill King, real estate adviser to RCN.
"We have looked at over 22 sites," says King, CEO of King
Interests at 506 Carnegie, "and by the end of the year we will
be down to two or three preferred sites." King notes that Pennsylvania
is offering many financial incentives. The headquarters could resemble
the four office buildings that first comprised the Carnegie Center
campus (101, 103, 104, and 105).
King Interests represents RCN on various real estate transactions
nationwide, and its construction division is doing the fit-out on
RCN spaces at the Carnegie Center, including a new computer center,
and is reconfiguring the headquarters at 105 Carnegie Center. "We
are acting like an out-sourced real estate department," says King.
"RCN focuses on the people involved in a service business. We
are small, we react quickly, and we are able to affiliate with the
best people in the markets all over the United States."
RCN’s fortunes were buoyed by the October 4 announcement
that Vulcan Ventures Inc., the group headed by Microsoft co-founder
Allen, would chip in $1.7 billion toward RCN’s war chest, which would
total $4 billion in cash. As a competitor to regional Bell carriers
for local residential customers, RCN also has plans for a $12 million
employee training facility at a site to be determined.
Though National Business Parks is talking to prospective tenants for
a 350,000 square foot development at an undisclosed location along
Route 1, it has not submitted plans to the municipalities involved.
It manages the 11 buildings that comprise College Park at Princeton
Princeton University is welcoming a Houston-based developer, the Patrinely
Group, to the east side of Route 1. The group is reported to be under
contract to develop 60 acres just north of Princeton Plasma Physics
Lab. "We have been working with them for over a year, it’s a very
impressive group," says David Knights of Picus Associates, which
represents the university. "This is the start of what we hope
is a long-term relationship."
Dean Patrinely, who has a New Jersey office in Bridgewater, is also
building a total of 225,000 square feet on 24 acres on the eastern
flank of Forrestal Village (The Windrows developments comprise the
western flank). Designed by New York-based architectural firm Gwathmey
Siegel, the first of two buildings will have as its lead tenant Novo
Nordisk, which will move from Princeton Overlook.
From here the musical chairs begins: Kemper Environmental will expand
from its current Forrestal Village location to Gale & Wentworth’s
last big new office building at the Village.
Buchanan Ingersoll and American Appraisal, the lead tenants for the
new Aegis and Berwynd property groups’ building at 650 College Road,
will move from their current quarters in Forrestal Center (500 and
600 College Road) by November 1.
Mathematica, the lead tenant for 600 Alexander Park, will move out
of Morgan Lane in mid-November, says Karen Iman, who represents the
developer, TrammellCrow. (She and Aubrey Haines changed their allegiance
from GMH Realty to TrammellCrow several months ago.) Soon TrammellCrow
will apply for permits for its second building there, 700 Alexander
Almost all of Alexander Road is in flux. SJP Properties’ Commons at
7 and 9 Roszel Road (see cover story) has attracted Merrill Lynch
(including several departments from Scudders Mill Road and all of
the 250 people in the retail operation from Franklin Corner Road).
Sab Russo and Ed Dakosta brokered the 10-year-lease for Merrill Lynch.
Other tenants are Korn/Ferry (already in place) and Pharmacia/Upjohn.
On the corner of Vaughn and Alexander, the corner closest to Route
1, a well-known developer from Peapack is making his first move into
the Central Jersey market with a two-story brick building at 821 Alexander
Road. Peter J. Cocoziello, the founder of the 20-year-old Advance
Group (http://www.advance-re.com), will preside at the groundbreaking,
set for Wednesday, October 13, at noon.
A Florham Park-based firm, Rotwein and Blake, did the design, and
Bovis Construction — which just finished the SJP Properties’ Commons
building and regularly partners with the Advance Group — will
do the contracting and will move from Forrestal Village to be the
building’s first tenant.
On the opposite corner of Vaughn and Alexander, Station Plaza at Princeton
Junction Train Station has received preliminary site plan development
approval. The 27,900-foot building, designed by Kevin Blackney & Associates
of Philadelphia, will be owned by Striper Associates, which is connected
to Nexus Partners
Nexus Partners owns 707 Alexander Road and is also building at 731
Alexander Road. The first part of that project, the 60,000-foot Princeton
Plaza Building A, is nearing completion and is already full, according
to Andrea Kotzker of Nexus. Leases have been signed with Amper Politzner
Mattia, Integrated Financial Services, R.G. Vanderweil Engineers,
and four other leases are pending. Buschman Partners is starting to
market the 40,000-foot Building B, to the rear, and Nexus aims to
break ground in December to be ready by September, 2000.
A 97,000-foot sister building to 5 Vaughn Drive has been approved
for 3 Vaughn Drive, but the owners, Mack/Cali, have no groundbreaking
planned. Similarly, Mack/Cali’s plans for the second building at Princeton
Overlook are on hold.
The Carnegie Center is also expanding in spite of major move-outs
planned by RCN Corporation (see above) and Peterson’s, which will
be the lead tenant in Brandywine Realty Trust’s newest building at
2000 Lenox Drive, targeted to be ready March 1.
The law firm of Morgan Lewis & Bockius leaves 214 Carnegie to occupy
14,000 feet in 502, the newest building at the Carnegie Center. Only
5,000 square feet of the total 114,000 feet remain unleased. The grand
opening of 502 and the groundbreaking for 302 — originally scheduled
for late September — was pushed back to October 20. Summit Bank
will be the lead tenant for 302, which is just across the drive, on
the same side of Route 1, from its headquarters.
Carnegie Center is expected to apply for permits soon for Carnegie
901, across the highway on Route 1 South. It is owned by Boston Properties.
Among the other new projects: Hilton Realty, the Nassau Street-based
developer of Research Park, hopes to finish its $2 million project
on 52 acres at Ewing Commerce Park by the second quarter of next year.
Located on Sylvia Street, off Sullivan Way in Ewing, the two 30,000-foot
single story buildings are labeled "flex," meaning it can
be used for multipurposes — offices, distribution, or warehouse.
It is also adding to Windsor Business Park, on Route 571, which contains
the headquarters of Dataram.
— Barbara Fox
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