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Grapevine – Amazon checking out Avenel

The investment firm that has partnered with Inc. on warehouse projects across the country is set to purchase a site in Woodbridge that could serve as the online retailer’s second facility in New Jersey, Grapevine has learned.

A source said the firm, KTR Capital Partners, has a contract to purchase a two-building complex, totaling some 900,000 square feet, from C&S Wholesale Grocers. The person said Amazon will occupy a dry warehouse building, measuring nearly 500,000 square feet, at the complex, which is on Blair Road in the township’s Avenel section.

KTR, an 8-year-old offshoot of Keystone Property Trust, is developing Amazon’s first 1 million-square-foot distribution center in Robbinsville. The firm purchased the site from Matrix Development Group, following Amazon’s commitment to open e-commerce hubs in New Jersey in exchange for a temporary exemption from collecting sales tax.

Dashing AshBritt links

Controversy erupted last week when The Star-Ledger wrote about the web of political operatives aligned with the Florida debris removal company AshBritt Inc., but not all of the links are quite so direct.

NJBIZ first wrote about the AshBritt contract back in November. Critics have raised questions about the contract because New Jersey did not bid it out, but instead adopted a 300-page contract Connecticut signed with AshBritt in 2008, after Connecticut solicited bids.

At the time, Grapevine reported that Maggie Moran and her firm, M Public Affairs, were working for Conti Group, a subcontractor hired by AshBritt to help in the debris removal effort. The Ledger, however, seemed to tie Moran directly to AshBritt. In addition to identifying her work for Conti, the Ledger listed her among people “paid by AshBritt” and later said she was “working for” AshBritt, in addition to Conti.

Grapevine double-checked last week with M Public Affairs, which confirmed our original reporting. They sent over this statement: “As NJBIZ reported in November, Conti Group is a client of M Public Affairs. Neither M Public Affairs nor Maggie Moran is paid by AshBritt.”

A Heller-uva good job

Longtime Heller Industrial Parks President Jeff Milanaik has a new home after 26 years with the Edison-based landlord and developer, Grapevine has learned.

Sources said Milanaik left Heller about three weeks ago to start a business called CrownPoint Group. A message left at CrownPoint’s Morristown office was not returned last week.

Milanaik, a former NAIOP New Jersey president, joined Heller in 1987 as a leasing and sales representative, according to a 2010 NJBIZ story. When I. Heller Construction Co. Inc. reorganized in 1995, shifting away from construction, he was named president of the current entity, which boasts a 16 million-square-foot portfolio of warehouse and distribution space.

In recent years, Milanaik led Heller through efforts to make its buildings more energy efficient and to shift into multifamily development, most notably in Harrison.

Heller issued the following statement: “The Heller family is grateful for the 26 years of hard work, dedication and innovation that Jeff Milanaik instilled within the company. Jeff was significant in growing Heller Industrial Parks into one of the largest industrial property owners in the state. We wish Jeff the best of luck in his new endeavor.”

A Republican walks into a bar…

A sometimes standup comedian for charitable causes, Jon Bramnick knows how to deliver a zinger. Apparently his colleagues, friends and family can too.

The Assembly Republican leader was roasted Jan. 26 at Echo Lake Country Club during a surprise party to celebrate his 60th birthday. A tipster said about 120 people attended the Bramnick bash, including Kim Guadagno, Tom Kean Jr. and other legislators, Mike DuHaime, Bill Palatucci, and Rich Bagger.

As part of the farce, a Westfield official presented fake summonses to Bramnick for the operation of a “pub” in his home. Bramnick is famous for hosting gatherings of the political elite of both parties at his home, at what he calls O’Bramnick’s Pub.

Even Bramnick’s grown children, Brent Bramnick and Abby Bramnick, got in on the ribbing, reportedly delivering some of the best lines at the surprise party.

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

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