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The recession and financial mess that emerged in 2008 certainly had its impact on sales and leasing deal velocity for the year, but some major deals did indeed get done. Here, a look back, from the pages of Real Estate New Jersey and GlobeSt.com:

The deal of the year was undoubtedly KBS REIT II’s two-part acquisition of the more than 1.1 million-square-foot Park Avenue at Morris County office campus in Florham Park. It gets the nod both for its size and for its complexity. In September, KBS REIT II authored the first of two closings, and in October the Newport Beach, CA-based fund completed its acquisition of the six-building campus with the second closing.

Altogether, the class A campus traded for a combined $365 million, or about $325 per square foot. In both phases of the transaction, KBS was represented in-house, and seller JP Morgan Chase was represented by Jeffrey Dunne, Kevin Welsh and David Gavin of CB Richard Ellis’ New York institutional group in collaboration with Samuel Buckley of CB Richard Ellis’ Saddle Brook office.

The second closing involved four buildings totaling nearly 565,000 square feet, which commanded $184.3 million, or just more than $326 per square foot. The four, 300 Campus Dr. (101,500 square feet), 400 Campus Dr. (183,000), 500 Campus Dr. (181,000) and 600 Campus Dr. (99,000), were 99% leased at the time of closing. The first closing in September, meanwhile, involved the 100 Campus Dr. and 200 Campus Dr. buildings totaling about 559,000 square feet. The pair went for $180.7 million, or just more than $323 per square foot.

As far as other major transactions in 2008, AXA leased 245,000 square feet at Brookfield Properties’ one million-square-foot Newport Tower at 525 Washington Blvd. in Jersey City. The 15-year deal was struck by Scott Panzer, Deborah Vanderheyden and Steve Rotter of Newmark Knight Frank for AXA in early 2008, and by Ed Duenas and Kevin Daly of Cushman & Wakefield for Brookfield. Sources put the rent in the $35- to $40-per-square-foot range, and the deal’s aggregate in the $140-million range. And AXA wasn’t done: In April, the financial giant leased 100,000 square feet at Hartz Mountain Industries’ 445,000-square-foot 500 Plaza Dr. in Secaucus, in a consolidation of multiple local locations.

In Linden, meanwhile, Duke Realty bought the shuttered General Motors plant. GM had put the 102-acre site and its 2.9 million-square-foot assembly plant on the market after it was closed in 2005, and in early 2008, the Indianapolis-based Duke Realty backed by Stockbridge Real Estate made its entry into the New Jersey market, paying a reported $75 million for the tract with the intention of remediating the site and redeveloping it with a mixed-use combination of industrial and retail facilities. The CB Richard Ellis team of Tom Tucci, Bill Waxman, Mindy Lissner and Art Weiss pulled the deal together for GM.And in May, Duke tapped Bob Grossi as VP of development and leasing to oversee that redevelopment. Demolition continued throughout 2008, and Duke hoped to break ground sometime in 2009.

In Carteret, KTR Capital Partners bought two W/D building, 380 Middlesex Ave. and 580 Port Carteret Dr., totaling 1.1 million square feet on 59 acres. The dry and cold storage facilities are occupied by White Rose Inc., which uses the facilities as its headquarters and main distribution center. The buildings located within the Port Carteret Industrial Complex were purchased from T/A Port Carteret and US Metal Refining, via the assignment of a purchase option of White Rose.

In June, the New York City-based Feil Organization closed on the acquisition of a one million-square-foot mixed-use portfolio of 22 industrial, retail, R&D and office buildings on 70 acres near Exit 135 of the Garden State Parkway in Clark. The sale price was not released; the portolio had been listed with an asking price of $100 million by seller the Villa Family. The deal was brokered by Richard Mirliss, Hope Brodsky, David Noonan, Christopher LoSapio, Jennifer Schwartzman and Justin DiMare of Newmark Knight Frank.

The Boston-based High Street Equity Advisors, in April, bought a 750,000-square-foot portfolio. It included seven buildings and 369,000 square feet within Allendale Park, two buildings at 400 and 500 Apgar Rd. in Franklin Twp. and the buildings at 300 Columbus Circle and 400 Raritan Center Parkway in Edison. While the seller wasn’t disclosed, the buildings had been listed with the portfolio of First Industrial Realty Trust, and their acquisition by that company had previously been reported by GlobeSt.com. Cushman & Wakefield orchestrated the sale.

And a 737,283-square-foot package was picked up by Endurance Real Estate Group, amounting to 15 flex/warehouse buildings on 87 acres, 25 of them undeveloped, within the Cherry Hill Business Park. Seller First Industrial Realty Trust was represented by brokers from CB Richard Ellis, and Endurance was represented in-house. The sale price was not disclosed.

Matrix Development Group, meanwhile, is based in Cranbury, and in November it picked up a property in its own backyard, namely the 342,000-square-foot, 13-building, 82-acre Mid-Atlantic Corporate Center. The deal was arranged for Matrix by Steve Tolkach of Newmark Knight Frank’s Princeton office, and for seller Preferred Real Estate Investments in-house by Frank Doyle and externally by NAI Fennelly. The one-time Rhodia Group campus is being repositioned for multi-tenant use.

Back in the leasing category, Danish pharma giant Novo Nordisk expanded its North American HQ presence in April, taking an additional 167,000 square feet at Patrinely Group’s 1100 College Rd. With the signing, the company bumped its presence up beyond its existing occupancy at the 225,000-square-foot 100 and 150 College Rd. The company also picked up a $5.4 million BEIP grant and $1.8 million of additional state incentives from the New Jersey EDA.

And British consumer products giant Reckitt Benckiser leased 163,386 square feet at Morris Corporate Center IV in Parsippany. The tenant was represented by David Simson, president of GVA Williams NJ; landlord Acquiport Parsippany, an entity controlled by New York-based Lexington Realty Trust, was represented in-house by VP Andy Zhong.

Office supply retailer Staples re-upped for 204,000 square feet, representing the entire W/D building at 21 S. Middlesex Ave. in Monroe in June. The deal was a collaboration between JRT Realty Group and Cushman & Wakefield, specifically the former’s Jodi Pulice and Greg Smith and the latter’s Frank Caccavo, Jason Goldman and Andrew Siemsen for the ownership, a fund managed by TIAA-CREF.

Finally, in September, HSBC Finance Corp. agreed to renew its lease for 110,000 square feet at SJP Properties’ 250,000-square-foot Somerset Corporate Center II at 200 Somerset Corporate Blvd. in Bridgewater. The company has maintained a regional HQ at the site since 1999. Also in 2008, Yullett Prebon Holdings, a subsidiary of London-based Tullett Prebon plc, took 100,759 square feet at Mack-Cali’s 1.3 million-square-foot 101 Hudson St., bringing the building to full occupancy. The deal included a 63,372-square-foot extension for 12 years, seven months, and a 37,387-square-foot expansion for 15 years.

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