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SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ-Princeton Forrestal Associates, the real estate development arm of Princeton University, has offered up a proposal to develop a new scientific research campus on a 150-acre site long Route 1 here. The initial proposal calls for a total of seven R&D/lab buildings, an office building and two hotels, all adding up to more than one million sf of space.

PFA officials say will likely bring in a third-party developer to actually do the project, and that they have had “discussions” with a developer along those lines. A spokesman for PFA has declined to identify the potential developer, citing the lack of a signed deal and indicating that, “discussions are ongoing.”

The site is part of a land swap between the university, the towns of South Brunswick and Plainsboro and the privately owned Princeton Nurseries, involving a tract of nearly 500 acres that was acquired from the latter more than two decades ago by PFA. In late 2004, PFA shifted more than 125 acres over to South Brunswick for preservation, and 60 acres were sold to the state for the same purpose.

In exchange for that transfer, approximately 78 acres along Route 1 was rezoned by South Brunswick from residential to office/research, and an adjacent 72 acres was added to the site, setting in motion the planning process for the proposed research campus. Under the terms of the land swap agreement, PFA has 20 years to build out the site, a time line that began in early 2005.

The terms also called for PFA to at least start some work on the project within five years of that 2005 starting point, and the group has apparently met that requirement with the start of some site work. According to David Knight, PFA’s director of marketing, construction has started on roadway improvements at the intersection of Route 1 and Independence Way leading into the site.

While site plans remain to be firmed up, local officials have already calculated the tax benefit of a full 10-building, one-million-sf build-out. According to South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese, that number comes in at around the $5-million mark per year.

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