This building spree in Princeton – is it a glass half
empty or half full? Up and down the Route 1 corridor, new
buildings are being built "on speculation," meaning that
they broke ground without a tenant in sight. And some
older buildings are completely empty. Altogether, central
New Jersey has a dozen Class A buildings that are
Optimists will take some solace from James Hughes, dean of
Rutgers’ Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, a
notorious straight shooter who doesn’t varnish the truth.
"There’s been a general point of view in the 11-county New
Jersey market that the surging rents in mid-town and
declining availability will ultimately spill over in New
Jersey," says Hughes. "There’s a lot hanging on that
So far there is very little evidence of such spillover,
Hughes cautions, buttressing the fears of the glass half
empty crowd. "Manhattan has become a hot hot place to be,
and companies may well be more willing to pay more rent
because their workers want to be there."
Of the new buildings, Princeton Corporate Campus at the
Forrestal Center and the Van Nest Office Park on
Quakerbridge Road are already finished. Buildings soon to
be completed are 1200 Lenox Drive in Lawrence, Princeton
South Corporate Center in Ewing, 7 Corporate Drive in
Cranbury, 1 University Square in West Windsor, and 902
Carnegie Center in West Windsor. Of all these, only the
last has its first tenant.
Previously occupied buildings that have been revamped
include 100 Lenox Drive (the former Lenox headquarters),
103 Morgan Lane (formerly occupied by Merrill Lynch), 400
College Road East (formerly occupied by Bloomberg), 2000
Cornwall (formerly a Pharmacopeia lab, Class B), and 29
Thanet in Princeton (formerly Institute of Defense
Analyses). Again, only the last one on that list has its
Then there are two entire campuses, totaling nearly
500,000 square feet, that are trying to gain a second
life: the former Lucent property (Technology Center of
Princeton) on Carter Road and the former Rhone Poulenc
campus (now Mid-Atlantic Corporate Park).
Granted, the owners of these buildings have deep pockets.
Patrinely at the Forrestal Center is finished, and
Hilton’s Carnegie Center building and Reckson’s University
Square behemoth are nearing completion, and they won’t go
broke right away. And each of the gapingly empty spaces
has its own attributes that might attract just the right
On the southern end of the market, realtors rest smugly in
the assumption that their geography is hot.
Sab Russo and Aubrey Haines of Mercer Oak, representing
Opus East at Princeton South Corporate Center, cite
demographics showing that most of the Princeton’s workers
live south of Princeton, many in Bucks County.
"We have seen a migration trend towards Bucks County on
the 95 corridor because many decision makers live in Bucks
County and want to avoid some of the Princeton area’s
traffic conditions," says Carolyn Sica of CB Richard
And though Brandywine Realty’s Stephen Jennings has more
empty space on Lenox Drive than he usually does, he is
confident he can fill two more buildings, the one just
vacated by Lenox and the brand-new one.
In the heart of Princeton’s Route 1 marketplace, Mark Hill
of Hilton thinks he is one up on the others because 902
Carnegie has its first tenant.
But Tom Romano of GVA Williams Buschman believes the giant
Reckson building has the best configurations.
And Brad Fenlon, marketing the Patrinely building for CB
Richard Ellis, must surely be hoping for a company that
wants to relocate from high priced New York and needs to
be on the north end of the Princeton market.
"If a company has some share of their workers commuting
into mid-town from Princeton, then it may well be
feasible," says Hughes of the Bloustein Schoool. "But if
the workers are coming from New York or Connecticut, the
possibilities are not very great."
One company for whom the move was feasible, Comag
Marketing Group, came on the scene to take 26,000 square
feet at Forrestal Village last year. And though New Jersey
is known as Manhattan’s "back office," Comag moved its
One move does not constitute a trend but, with New York
rents climbing into the $80 range and above, a corporate
egress from New York could be Princeton’s saving grace.
To look behind the scenes at how and why Comag chose
Princeton, and how its employees fared, see page 16. Below
are listings for the empty (or almost empty) buildings,
followed by the rest of the listings we received from the
commercial brokers. They are sorted by type (lab, office,
retail, and warehouse or flex/industrial space) and by
location. Gross rents cover all expenses but utilities.
With net, or triple net rents, which are cheaper, the
tenant pays most expenses.