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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the October 9, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
The Kid from Bowers
Bill King was fresh out of Wharton when he went to work
on Nassau Street for the late Ray Bowers, the Carnegie Center’s initial
developer. Soon King found himself in a partnership with Alan Landis
at Carnegie Center Associates (see story, page 13). Fifteen years
later, when most of the Carnegie Center property had been sold to
a real estate investment trust, Boston Properties, King struck out
on his own. Now he has moved back to Nassau Street and is in the middle
of carrying out a nine-year plan.
"When we began the Carnegie Center, we moved out of Nassau Street,
and I had always dreamed of moving back," says King. "This
is a dream come true."
King Interests has about 34 employees, both on Nassau Street and offsite
in separate companies for real estate brokering, construction, property
management, and development. At first King’s development company was
busy with RCN’s now defunct plans for a new campus, and the realty
company had brokerage contracts with start-up companies. The construction
company did several excellent projects for J. Seward Johnson at Rat’s
and Grounds for Sculpture, and King traces these contracts directly
back to his work for Ray Bowers.
"One of the first construction jobs I worked on was for Seward’s
father at Jasna Polana, and when this project came about for Seward
Jr., one of Seward’s people called me, saying `We were trying to find
that kid with the Bowers organization, and we think it might be you.
Would you like to bid on this thing?’ I am that kid, I said, and yes,
I would like to bid."
One project followed another: Rat’s restaurant and the Atlantic Foundation
headquarters (designed to look like a 17th century European village)
plus the visiting artists’ studio, the international artists studio,
and a maintenance facility. From 1998 to 2000, this work was worth
from $5.5 to $6 million.
"Both Jasna Polana and the Atlantic Foundation are detailed in
their own way, with their stonework, woodwork, and paving. Seward
Jr. has a magnificent eye for detail and a very definite vision about
how he wants things to look," says King. "And he is quite
articulate. As busy as he is, he always made himself accessible and
was enthusiastic about every aspect of the project."
King teamed with Robert Hanna, the Philadelphia-based
landscape architect who did the Greenway at the Carnegie Center, and
a Hopewell-based contractor, RTCW, for the huge new concrete pool
outside of Rats that looks like the headwaters of a natural lake.
King’s father was a mechanical engineer at General Electric. He has
one brother, now an officer in the Air National Guard, and two sisters
— a Hollywood producer and an artist. He and his wife met in Colorado,
when he was a student at the University of Colorado, Class of 1974.
They live with their six children, ages 12 to 22, in Montgomery
In his first three years King began combining his business and social
interests. "Before Ray Bowers passed away he said he hoped I would
work on projects so that senior citizens can remain in their community."
He worked with a Pennsylvania-based church organization and did six
nonprofit senior developments in Coal Belt cities; he is also on the
board of Presbyterian Homes of NJ.
For his second three-year period, he will focus on growing his service
companies. For Alan Landis, he is managing the development of the
new Marriott Residence Inn to be built behind AmeriSuites at Carnegie
Center West. His property management firm manages his current headquarters,
a town house with two luxury apartments, plus buildings that he owns
at 236 Nassau and 250 Phillips Drive. "The third part of the plan
is to start developing again, but for our own account."
"It takes a combination of vision and perseverance for a developer
to be successful," says King. "Developers are not risk averse,
but they are careful in assessing risk."
— Barbara Fox
William F. King III, president. 609-921-1331; fax, 609-921-0026.
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