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Grapevine: Passing on Amazon

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By several accounts, officials in Robbinsville are close to a deal that would bring an Amazon.com distribution center to town — namely, to a Matrix Development-owned site near New Jersey Turnpike Exit 7A.

But Matrix reportedly plans to sell the parcel to fund manager KTR Capital Partners. Why give up the chance to build for the online retail giant? A real estate tipster says Amazon is known to have "onerous" leases with prospective landlords, requiring that if the owner sells the property in the future, it must give the company a piece of the difference between the sales price and original costs.

KTR has worked with Amazon on warehouse projects in other states, according to published reports. Through a spokeswoman, Matrix declined to comment, while a call to Amazon's public relations office in Seattle was not returned.

As for the second 1 million-square-foot warehouse the company has pledged to build in New Jersey, the tipster said the search has been postponed. Amazon had been looking at Prologis-owned sites in Elizabeth and Carteret, the source said. The person also speculated the retailer could wait for an opening at KTR's iPort 12 logistics center, in Carteret, which Wakefern Food Corp. will vacate by early 2014.

Dream coming true?

It was a positive sign for the American Dream Meadowlands project last week, when a team from developer Triple Five was spotted at a major retail industry conference in New York.

A source said the firm's representatives were set up in a conference area at the International Council of Shopping Centers New York National Conference, drawing plenty of interest at the two-day event. The source said the project is "definitely real" — and it is exciting to see for the retail industry, given what has seemed like a slow pace of progress since Triple Five took over the former Xanadu project in 2010.

The Canadian developer, which owns the West Edmonton Mall and the Mall of America, in Minnesota, has said it hopes to open the retail portion of the 2.8 million-square-foot project in time for the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. That space is to include 650,000 square feet of anchor retail and 1 million square feet of specialty retail, according to the project's website.

Triple Five has spent this year wading through a complex permitting process, much of it tied to plans to add water and amusement parks to the existing structure. It also has grappled with a lawsuit by the Giants and Jets, which have raised concerns about the impact on game-day traffic at the Meadowlands Sports Complex.

Sweeney staying put

Even if Cory Booker doesn't look to challenge Chris Christie as governor in 2013, it's not quite settled that Steve Sweeney will put his name on the ticket.

A published report citing three unnamed Democrats said the Senate president would seek the nomination if Booker doesn't, but a source tells Grapevine it was a "bogus story," and that Sweeney won't run.

Dot-com what may

Politico reported last week about Internet addresses for possible presidential candidates being bought by the politicians, their supporters or speculators. Politico noted some domains were purchased by random people with the same name, like www.chrischristie.com, owned by a Milwaukee computer programmer who is the father of a cute baby and likes to read about investing and golf.

But what about possible New Jersey gubernatorial candidates? Booker, Barbara Buono and Lou Greenwald already own the dot-com sites with their names. But www.stevesweeney.com is owned by a San Diego man with that name, and www.stephensweeney.com belongs to the Stephen Sweeney Professional Corp. in Ontario. John Wisniewski, of Michigan, has rights to that dot-com. Then there are all the variations, such as dot-net, or adding words like "vote" or the election year to the URL.

Perhaps most interesting is that Rick Shaftan, a conservative Republican in Sparta, owns www.dickcodey.com. Politicos often try to lock up web addresses containing their names so political rivals can't use the URL in a negative way. Of course, politically savvy George Norcross wouldn't let that happen to him. Both the dot-com and dot-net versions of his name were purchased in 2005, and redirect to the Conner, Strong & Buckelew website.

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Sharon Waters at sharonw@njbiz.com.

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