500 College Road East in Plainsboro — Courtesy: Bergman Real Estate Group
(Editor’s note: This story was updated on Feb. 3 with additional details and quotes from JLL’s New Jersey capital markets team, which arranged acquisition financing.)
By Joshua Burd
A partnership led by Bergman Real Estate Group has acquired a 160,000-square-foot, Princeton-area office building from Mack-Cali Realty Corp.
The firm, working alongside Hornig Capital Partners and Eightfold Capital, is now planning a $4 million upgrade of the property at 500 College Road East in Plainsboro after buying it for an undisclosed price. It will do as it markets nearly half of the building to prospective tenants, touting its proximity to Route 1, Princeton University and downtown Princeton.
The deal is Bergman’s third acquisition from Mack-Cali and Bergman and Hornig’s first in the Princeton submarket, according to a news release. The firm noted that the building sits within the 2,200-acre, master-planned Princeton Forrestal Center and is surrounded by major employers, and institutes of higher education and research and development, adding to its appeal for businesses looking to establish offices in the region.
“Our new partners share our vision to reposition 500 College Road East, transforming it into a modern office complex that will serve the next generation of talent in the workplace,” said Michael Bergman, CEO and president of Bergman Real Estate Group. He added that the team is “confident that the improvements and amenities we are bringing to 500 College Road will help attract new tenants looking for a first class and a safe work environment, as well as to retain existing tenants who we aim to satisfy their long-term occupancy needs.”
Amherst Capital Management, led by Managing Director Gabe Boyar, provided acquisition financing. JLL’s Michael Klein, Greg Nalbandian, Michael Lachs and Biagio Caruso sourced the loan.
“We are pleased to work with Bergman Real Estate once again and excited about our ability to secure the level of proceeds and structure that Bergman and its equity partners needed to execute their business plan,” Klein said.
Bergman has also tapped a JLL as its leasing agent at the property, with the team of Vinny DiMeglio and Erin Moran leading the effort. They are marketing 76,000 square feet, including units ranging from 1,500 square feet to a full floor of 41,000 square feet.
“We are very excited to take on this project and partner with Bergman as they enter the Princeton market,” DiMeglio and Moran said in a joint statement. “500 College Road East has always been one of the premier office buildings in the Princeton Forrestal campus. The planned improvements and upgrades to the common areas and amenities that Bergman will implement this year will offer tremendous value and opportunities for all business types.”
The upgrades, which are being designed by Ware Malcomb, will include improvements to the central, four-story atrium lobby and the exterior entrance to the building. Bergman Senior Investment Officer David Iacobucci detailed other renovations, including:
- Upgrades to common areas, including the floor lobbies, corridors, restrooms, the café and the fitness center
- The addition of a multimedia conference and training center for tenants to hold larger meetings
- Implementing Bergman’s bike share program
- Upgrading the building’s mechanical system with new, energy-efficient HVAC equipment
In the news release, Bergman noted that Princeton Forrestal Center is home to more than 175 businesses and uses such as academic, research, office, residential, hotels, conference centers, retail and dining facilities, as well as 700 acres of preserved open space.
“We are thrilled to be working on this project,” said Marlyn Zucosky, director, interior architecture and design of Ware Malcomb’s Princeton and Newark offices. “The improvements we are designing will truly transform 500 College Road into a modern, Class A office building, featuring all new finishes, furniture, touchless fixtures in all restrooms, new LED lighting and other features that tenants will enjoy. Our overall design strategy focused on maximizing the long-term real estate value of the property.”
In a separate news release, JLL’s New Jersey capital markets team said the strength of the Princeton submarket was a key draw for prospective lenders. Ultimately, the brokerage team secured the $14.138 million, floating rate loan from Amherst with a three-year term.
“Our client acquired this asset at a very attractive basis in the desirable Princeton submarket,” Nalbandian said. “There was considerable lender interest for this value-add financing demonstrating there is still strong liquidity for well-capitalized sponsors with sound business plans.”