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HAMILTON, NJ-Preferred Real Estate Investments is under contract to sell its 450,000-sf American Metro Center project here. The site is the redevelopment of a former American Standard manufacturing plant.

According to a published report, Lincoln Equities Group, Meritage Properties and Avenue Capital are teaming up to buy the property. PREI would not comment on the pending sale, and representatives of the buyers would not comment other than to confirm the pending sale.

The Conshohocken, PA-based PREI bought the 112-acre site and its 750,000 sf worth of buildings nearly two years ago from the Piscataway-based American Standard, which had used the property for many years to make bathroom fixtures before shuttering it several years ago. The acquisition price was not released at the time, but industry sources put the number in the $50-million range.

PREI’s plan was to reduce the building stock to 450,000 sf and convert it into class A office space, replete with conference rooms, auditoriums, a fitness center and a full-service cafeteria. After a remediation effort to remove such contaminants as barium from porcelain glazes, that redevelopment remains under way and near completion.

The trio of buyers is headed by Lincoln Equities, based in Rutherford. Meritage Properties, meanwhile, is a New York City-based company with real estate holdings in major Northeast metro areas, and Avenue Capital is an investor group.

According to reports, the building is approximately one-third preleased. American Metro Center has been listed on PREI’s website with an asking rate of $23.50 per sf, compared to asking rates that are generally in the $26 to $30 range in the surrounding Route 1/Princeton area marketplace.

The center itself is within this township’s 1,000-acre redevelopment zone. A residential community of nearly 700 multifamily homes has been approved by township officials, although work has yet to begin on that. NJ Transit is also planning to redevelop state-owned property around the Hamilton commuter rail station within the zone.

And while the interior of American Metro Center is being converted from manufacturing to a class A office environment, the exterior will feature a touch of the past. PREI’s redevelopment is highlighted by a restoration of the building’s terracotta tile exterior, mosaic design work and red brick walls.

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