400,000 SF SHOPPING CENTER, NORTH BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY
One rainy day we were in the car looking at development sites inMiddlesex County,NJ. We were stopped in a north bound lane at a traffic light on Route 1, just south of theNorth Brunswickcircle where Route 1 and 130 merged. I looked out of the driver’s side window and saw a large, vacant tract of land with huge frontage on Route 1. It was a defunct drive-in theatre. Subsequently we located the owner and offered to buy the 40 acre site for $50,000 per acre, subject to site plan approval. The owner agreed. When we discussed our new site with “retail experts” we were told that no one builds large shopping centers on Route 1, south of New Brunswich. The place for large shopping centers was on nearby Route 18, a regional shopping hub, where incidentally land values, if you could find any vacant land, were $250,000 per acre. We were not deterred and within on year we obtained approvals to build a 400,000 square foot shopping center with 1,600 car surface parking. The day we obtained final site plan approval, the value of the land increase by $200,000 per acre — $8,000,000 for 40 acres. The first lease we signed was Daffy Dan, for 25,000 square feet. Daffy Dan at the time was considered a very hip, off-price fashion outlet with stores inManhattanand no place else. Today, you can drive byFashionPlazaand view the fruits of our labors.