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County to Help Monty Fill Its Empty Office Bldgs

By Barbara A. Preston | Posted July 24, 2023 (Updated on July 27, 2023)

Montgomery Township Committee is looking to the county for help in finding tenants to fill office space that has been vacant since before the pandemic.

Montgomery is primarily a residential community with pockets of large office campuses such as Johnson & Johnson (now Kenvue), which still occupies its large property on Grandview Road. Kenvue recently announced its new headquarters will be housed in Summit, on a 46-acre campus. It is unclear whether the multi-billion dollar company will keep its current campus in Skillman.

There are some large office campuses on Orchard Road that are mostly empty, such as The Orchard at 23 Orchard Road. Walt Lane, the director of The Somerset County Office of Planning, Policy and Economic Development, said the future looks bright for Montgomery. Lane and his associate, Jessica Paolini, spoke at township committee’s June 15 meeting.

23 Orchard Road office building in Skillman nj

The large office building at 23 Orchard Road, visible from Route 206 in Skillman, is looking for more tenants.

Opportunities in Montgomery

Life sciences companies are familiar with Montgomery, Paolini said. “Your proximity to Princeton University, and with the university being more external facing now with their own life science incubator and bio labs, there is an opportunity to catch some of the startups that are spinning out of the university."

“Also, the Montgomery Promenade, when that comes on line, will provide access to desirable amenities and create the now coveted live-work-play environment," she said. “We are working to attract new companies to the county.”

Paolini spoke about growth in the life-sciences industry. Montgomery Township Committee members expressed their hopes that the township will become a good home to these companies.

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Isolated Campuses

“Companies are moving out of isolated campuses, and are seeking Class A space, the highest quality space,” Paolini said. “Before, companies wanted campuses where employees would come to work and everything would be there—cafeteria, daycare, gym—and employees did not have to leave. “

"A lot of companies now, because people are working from home, they want to attract people to come back into the office," she said. "This includes a trend in which companies want to be in more of a downtown setting—somewhere where employees can go out after work. They can get a bite to eat and be more social.”

Life Sciences in NJ

“In New Jersey, life sciences wages are up almost 50 percent,” Paolini said. “And, there is not enough office space to meet current demand. We know six tenants seeking 440,000 sf of space.”

While Montgomery has empty office buildings, there is construction going on nearby. The $731 million Helix project in New Brunswick; the NEST life sciences hub at the former Merck site in Kenilworth; and The Cove mixed-use innovation hub in Jersey City are three of the biggest ones.

Mayor Devra Keenan asked, are there plans in Somerset County? How about Montgomery?

Paolini said the county is working to help redevelop the former AT&T campus in Bedminster (Somerset County). The campus was re-zoned for aseptic manufacturing, and will allow offices, labs, manufacturing space, and warehousing. It could also host a hotel, conference center, retail, public performance space—everything but residential.

Likewise, Montgomery wants to keep its ratable office space, and avoid more housing.


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