This is a scene of Secaucus' newest corporate neighbor settling into one of the oldest warehouses in the south end of town, as AT&T sets up its new Internet communication center.
Three years ago, Emmanuel Stern, president of the real estate division of Hartz Mountain Industries, claimed Secaucus could become the media center of the East, rivaling Burbank, Calif., the media capital of the West.
In addressing the Industrial Office Real Estate Brokers Association at the New York Athletic Club in 1997, Stern bragged about the future of his company, saying that Hartz was seeking to remake the meadowlands into this media hub. In interviews for Business Weekly and the real estate section of the New York Times, Stern said he's been inspired by the exploding entertainment industry, which could spell major economic growth for the Meadowlands. In July 1996, NBC and Microsoft rented 115,000 square feet of commercial space in Secaucus to open their production studios. Stern says he has an additional 5 million square feet he wants to see transformed into television and film production facilities, making Secaucus the "Burbank of the East." Secaucus already had several television studios, radio stations, and has been the world's center for distribution of Indian films. In fact, Stern once outlined a 10-year plan that would convert a large part of Hartz' 770 acre industrial park into something he called "Harmon Studio City."
MSNBC's arrival here in June, 1996, made Stern realize just how enormous a market there was. Indeed, the State Department of Commerce and Economic Development and the Economic Development Authority seem focused on this aspect as well, selling $167,000 in bonds to finance improvements made to MSNBC - this a part of the incentive package that allowed the new company to settle in Secaucus. Recently, MSNBC expanded its operations and operating space in Secaucus.
In 1999, the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission sided with Stern by rezoning a section of southern Secaucus to support use for TV studios and other media centers. Last summer, the studios of the former Spanish language TV channel 41 became the studios for the nation's first Russian language TV station.
Two weeks ago, AT&T helped bring Stern's dream even closer to reality, when the company announced it would open one of its Internet centers on Hartz property side by side with MSNBC studios in Secaucus.
Now in response to exploding regional demand for high-speed, reliable and scaleable web hosting services, AT&T announced it will open an Internet Data Center (IDC) in Secaucus. The data center provides the web hosting services that are essential for startups, dot-coms and "clicks and mortar" businesses. The 150,000-square-foot facility is part of the continued expansion of AT&T's network of state-of-the-art IDCs designed to support complex Web Hosting. Customer demand is so high that approximately one-third of the center is already leased.
According to Mayor Dennis Elwell, who took a tour of the facility two weeks ago, IBM has agreed to lease a large section of the space.
"It is a remarkable center and one more sign of how attractive Secaucus has become to the business community," Elwell said.
"Our Internet Data Centers are the 'next generation central offices' - they're the hubs of the networked economy," said Mary Livingston, AT&T regional sales vice president, last week. "More and more companies realize they have to adapt to new business models driven by the Internet if they are to survive. AT&T can help businesses successfully navigate these transitions."
The facility takes over the former site of the Merchant Refrigeration Transport - the first building constructed as part of the industrial-outlet section of Secaucus - and renovations are already underway. AT&T is currently installing its own 2,000 Kilowatt generators on site, as well as reconfiguring the space, installing floors and many hundreds of miles of wiring needed to make the operations work, Elwell said.
AT&T is also installing a security system and environmental controls to maintain a consistent temperature for the computers.
The Secaucus center will be constructed in two phases. The first has started with the renting of space by IBM, the second phase will be finished by March.
The New Jersey/New York Metro area center, which is just 10 minutes away from Manhattan, is expected to join the growing network of AT&T Internet Data Centers located on three continents. AT&T currently has two IDCs in New York City, two in San Diego, and centers in Silicon Valley; Middletown, Va.; Phoenix; and Chicago in the United States, as well as Birmingham in the U.K., and Tokyo and Osaka in Japan. In April, AT&T announced plans with BT and Concert to invest $2 billion over three years to build a network of 44 Internet Data Centers in 16 countries.
Harry Potter publisher comes to Secaucus
In what is being touted as yet one more sign of Secaucus' attraction as a communication hub, New Jersey-Scholastic Inc. has leased 60,833 square feet at 100 Plaza Drive and will relocate its information services center to the building. This is part of an expansion of services that is a direct result of the publication of the Harry Potter series of childrens' books that turned the company into a major international publisher.
While Scholastic always had been seen as one of the top publishing and distributing companies for the children's books, the acclaimed Harry Potter series pushed it into the best seller market. The building at 100 Plaza Drive was built in 1983 and currently contains a fiber optic server.