HAMILTON, NJ-Confirming earlier reports, a trio of buyers of the 450,000-sf American Metro Center office complex here has formally announced their acquisition of the asset. Reports of the deal surfaced in late April, but as reported by GlobeSt.com, the various parties involved declined to talk about it.

The property’s buyers are Lincoln Equities Group of Rutherford; the New York City-based Meritage Properties, through its Meritage/Oppenheimer Real Estate Value Partners I LP; and Avenue Capital, an investor group. The seller was the Conshohocken, PA-based Preferred Real Estate Investments. The sale price was not released, but various sources estimate that price to be in the $60-million to $70-million range.

“This property provided us with a tremendous investment opportunity,” says Andrew Nathan, a Meritage principal. “It features entirely new systems and infrastructure, and the property distinguishes itself with its high ceilings, skylights, exposed brick and ceilings and expanded window lines.”

As reported by GlobeSt.com, the three-building American Metro Center, which sits on 112 acres, is a former American Standard plant where bathroom fixtures were manufactured for many years. PREI bought it from American Standard in 2004 for a number reportedly in the $50-million range. The firm then launched a redevelopment that entailed reducing the building stock from 750,000 to 450,000 sf and turning it into class A office space. The physical redevelopment is largely completed and the marketing and leasing effort is well under way.<P."Leasing velocity is extremely strong," says Joel Bergstein, executive vice president of Lincoln Equities Group. His company's property management arm, Linque Management, is handling the asset's leasing and management. "We just signed a lease for 25,000 sf with Quatern Inc., a technology provider for pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Several other deals of a significant size are in negotiations."

Located in the Princeton market, adjacent to the Hamilton commuter rail station, American Metro Center currently has 245,000 sf available including 200,000 sf self-contained in one building, according to Bergstein. The available space can be subdivided into units as small as 2,500 sf. Space had been listed on PREI’s website with an asking rate of $23.50 per sf, compared to Princeton area marketplace rents that generally ask $26 to $30 per sf.

American Metro Center is also within this township’s 1,000-acre redevelopment zone. The township has approved a 700-home multifamily community within the zone, and NJ Transit is said to be planning to develop state-owned property around the rail station as a transit village.

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