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PLAINSBORO, NJ-Merrill Lynch has put its office campus at 800 Scudders Mill Rd. here on the market as a sale-leaseback investment opportunity, and has hired Cushman & Wakefield to find a buyer. Located within Princeton Forrestal Center, the property consists of 685,000 sf of office space on 50 acres, with room for another 700,000 sf on an adjacent site.

“This is a great value-added offering,” says Andrew Merin of C&W’s Metropolitan Area Capital Markets Group, East Rutherford, who’s heading the assignment. “The area has desirable demographics, and the Route 1 corridor office market is one of the strongest in the state. The direct vacancy rate is just 14%, and a class A average asking rental rate of $33.36 per sf is the highest in the state. It is also one of the few places in New Jersey where spec construction is occurring to meet demand.”

Merrill Lynch is selling the campus because it’s reorganizing its local operations in preparation for moving them to another office campus in nearby Hopewell. In the meantime, the firm plans to lease back the entire building until early 2008. And BlackRock Inc, which recently merged with Merrill Lynch’s Investment Management Group, has already committed to leasing more than half of the space for an extended period of time.

Developed in phases from 1985 to 1994, 800 Scudders Mill Rd. was purpose-built for Merrill Lynch. Its space includes an executive area, as well as trading floor areas and some raised flooring. It also connects to the Harrison Conference Center and Hotel, a 364-key property that Merrill Lynch built but no longer owns and is not part of the offering.

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