University signs agreement to acquire land in West Windsor

Oct. 10, 2001 3:50 p.m.

The University has signed a conditional agreement to acquire land in West Windsor for long-range campus development.

At a news conference on Oct. 8, the Sarnoff Corp. and Princeton announced that the University will purchase approximately 90 acres of Sarnoff's 345-acre West Windsor campus if Sarnoff receives approval from West Windsor Township for a satisfactory development plan for the property.

The 90 acres include the portion of the property that fronts along the east side of U.S. Route 1. That property is directly across the highway from land the University already owns. In addition, the purchase would include a contiguous section along the Millstone River near Route 1.

The agreement also provides that, under certain circumstances, the University will have the first right to purchase more acres should Sarnoff decide to sell them.

"We are interested in purchasing these lands for the same reason that the University obtained lands in West Windsor between Route 1 and Lake Carnegie in the 1920s and the 1940s -- to ensure that we can accommodate future academic, research, residential and other educational needs over the very long term," said Richard Spies, the University's vice president for finance and administration.

Spies emphasized that the University is not acquiring the property for commercial development. Sarnoff had earlier proposed commercial development on its lands along Route 1 to generate revenues that could be used to renovate and develop the rest of its property.

The purchase will go forward, providing Sarnoff and West Windsor reach agreement on a General Development Plan that Sarnoff plans to propose to West Windsor early next year. The plan would allow a floor area ratio on the entire Sarnoff property of approximately .21, a reduction from Sarnoff's original proposal earlier this year of .24. That number represents the ratio between a structure's total floor area and the total land area upon which a building is constructed. Sarnoff's plan represents an even more significant reduction from current zoning, which permits a floor area ratio of .30.

In making its purchase, the University would acquire the portion of the overall development rights that is attributable to the acres it would obtain, although it has no plans to develop those lands in the near future. "While we have no immediate plans for development," Spies said, "it is critical that we have the right over time to develop these lands for University purposes."

Jim Carnes, Sarnoff chief executive officer, said, "For Sarnoff, the proceeds from the land sale will allow us to accomplish the renovation and expansion we need in support of our business in West Windsor, while the University obtains property for possible future needs. Under this plan, there will be less development in West Windsor and it will be phased farther out in time. We feel this is positive for all concerned."

Because the sale is pending, the purchase price was not disclosed. The University's current land holdings for academic purposes include approximately 400 acres in West Windsor, 500 acres in Princeton Borough and Township and 177 acres in Plainsboro.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601