Rockefeller Group is developing a new 654,640-square-foot warehouse and logistics facility at 85 Main St. in Spotswood. — Courtesy: Rockefeller Group
By Joshua Burd
The transformation of a historic industrial site in Spotswood is taking shape, in a project that will bring some 650,000 square feet of new logistics space to the small Middlesex County borough.
Located at 85 Main St., the development by Rockefeller Group is repurposing a nearly 60-acre parcel some five miles from the New Jersey Turnpike, as the firm looks to tap into the growing submarket at Exit 9. It’s doing so while managing the project’s impact on the lesser-known, 2.4-square-mile municipality, whose location figures to be highly attractive to prospective users.
To that end, the building will have a façade on Main Street that runs the length of the property — without dock doors — while trailer loading will be restricted to the rear of the site. Rockefeller is also building a 20-foot-high sound wall to shield residents to the south of the property, which housed the Schweitzer-Mauduit International paper plant for nearly a century.
“It was always industrial,” said Zac Csik, a vice president with Rockefeller Group’s New Jersey and Pennsylvania development team. And while the neighborhood is no stranger to truck traffic, he said it was critical to get the town comfortable with the site’s new use.
“This is a modern facility, but there is an anti-warehouse sentiment in many towns, so we said, ‘Let’s do our best to protect the neighborhood as much as possible.’”
An affiliate of Rockefeller Group acquired the property in late 2021 from SWM International, a maker of performance materials such as films, adhesive tapes, foams and nets, and has since demolished the former structures on the site. The tract came with some entitlement risk, Csik said, but offered a compelling opportunity as an infill location that is less than a mile from Route 18 and a short ride to the New Jersey Turnpike.
With the industrial market still undersupplied and demand still strong, that proximity was likely to draw tenants once the developer addressed access and any potential concerns by residents. The speculative 654,640-square-foot facility is now rising at the site as part of a project that includes NORR, its architect, and Menlo Engineering Associates, with completion slated for the end of 2023.
“(If) you design a site plan that has all those things, that’s within 30 miles of the ports and New York City, I think you’re in good shape,” Csik said during an interview late last year, with rents still growing in New Jersey.
“So even if there is some hesitation about the economy in the next year or so, I think tenants and users will have to say to themselves, ‘Either I get this now or it might be impossible for me to find it, at least in the near future.’”