Sale of 450-acre Merrill Lynch campus could be N.J.’s largest office real estate deal

It could be the largest office real estate deal in New Jersey history as the huge campus built for Merrill Lynch in Hopewell Township goes up for sale.

Bank of America, which owns the 450-acre property, plans to rent back space for Bank of America and Merrill employees.

Bank of America took over the troubled brokerage firm in 2009.

“Bank of America is not in the real estate investment business. They’re in the business of lending money and opening branches and that sort of thing,” says Michael Pratico Jr., a real estate broker and appraiser in Mercer County.

Bank of America is selling and re-leasing offices around the country in an effort to focus its capital on its banking business.

Pratico says the sale of the campus off I-95 will be one of the most watched commercial real estate deals of the year, with the sales price ultimately driven by location.

“It’s still arguably one of the better locations in the country, by nature of its proximity to New York and Philadelphia,” Pratico said. “Not to mention, it’s only a few hours from Boston and Washington. It’s on the busiest train corridor in the country, the Northeast train corridor.”

Sale of the sprawling campus could net $400 million.

When it was developed in the late 1990s, the project received $200 million in state subsidies.

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