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Roche Denies Deal Has Been Struck for Vacant New Jersey Site

Written by: | | Dated: Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Roche Denies Deal Has Been Struck for Vacant New Jersey Site
July 10, 2015
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

CLIFTON, N.J. — Swiss-based pharmaceutical giant Roche (RHHBY) has denied a report the company has finalized a sale of its 116-acre campus in New Jersey, reported this morning.

In a report over the Independence Day holiday weekend Njbizcom said Prism Capital Partners, a Bloomfield-based developer, would redevelop the site that Roche vacated in 2012. The site straddles two New Jersey municipalities, Nutley and Clifton. However, Darien Wilson, Roche’s director of public affairs, said no decision has yet been reached on the site, the website reported.

He did say the company was talking to potential buyers, but did not disclose who the potential buyers are. The company said it hopes to find a buyer for the site the company occupied for nearly 80 years by the end of the year.

A portion of the site will be used by a private medical school supported by Hackensack University Medical Network and Seton Hall University. The school is considering occupying more than 400,000 square feet on the site, which accounts for nearly 50 percent of the remaining commercial space on the property. However, the school will not be buying the property, only a tenant, Wilson said.

The property has been undergoing environmental cleanup following the discovery of a broken sewer pipe that may have contributed to contamination of area groundwater. An inspection showed “a substantial amount of underground chemical contaminants.” Following the report Roche released the following statement.

“Since operations ceased on the Roche site at the end of 2013, the company has undertaken a comprehensive environmental investigation under the oversight of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs), licensed by the state of New Jersey,” according to the statement.

The TRC Environmental Corp. has been overseeing the cleanup for Roche under the state’s Licensed Site Remediation Professionals program, reported. Cleanup is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, Wilson told the news agency.


Despite the cleanup efforts, about 60 homeowners living near the campus have filed a class action lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company, claiming environmental damage caused by Roche. The lawsuit alleges that Roche released “abnormally dangerous and hazardous chemicals into the soil and groundwater” at its former Route 3 campus, as a result of improper storage, transport, handling and disposal of the chemicals.

The lawsuit also alleges some of the contamination occurred as a result of Roche’s industrial process wastewater. Plaintiffs claim between 1960 and 1984, the Route 3 site used around 154 million pounds of acetone, 70.2 million pounds of methylene chloride, 17.6 million pounds of toluene, 7.7 million pounds of 1,4-dioxane, 7.1 million pounds of benzene and 107,255 pounds of perchloroethylene (PCE) in its operations.

In the lawsuit plaintiffs said contaminated groundwater at the site has shown 266,000 times the DEP limit of 1 part per billion of benzene allowed, 65 times the limit of 3 ppb of arsenic, 330 times the 5 ppb limit of lead, 273 times the limit of 2 ppb of mercury and 35,857 times the limit of 70 ppb of chloroform.

While Roche is still looking to sell its large New Jersey facility, Merck & Co. (MRK) was finally able to sell its 1 million-square-foot R&D site in nearby Summit, N.J. to Celgene Corporation (CELG) for an undisclosed amount of money.

Celgene is completing a 500,000-square-foot expansion of its headquarters in Summit, N.J. and said the old Merck site, which was vacated by that pharmaceutical company was an ideal fit. The Summit, N.J. site is zoned research/ office. The New Jersey site would put operations closer to some of the major biotech and pharmaceutical hubs on the East Coast.

As New Jersey Biotech Booms, Will It Overtake Other States As Prime Location?
A week after Celgene Corporation (CELG) announced it is officially the mystery buyer of Merck & Co. (MRK)’s former 1 million-square-foot R&D site in Summit, N.J., it quickly became our most popular story last week.

The company announced last Wednesday that it is buying the space, ending months of speculation about what Big Pharma company might move into the neighborhood.

The Summit, N.J. site is zoned research/office. The New Jersey site would put operations closer to some of the major biotech and pharmaceutical hubs on the East Coast.

But, by far, the most tempting part of doing business in the state remains New Jersey’s operating tax credit, which allows companies to sell their net operating losses to the New Jersey Treasury. One of the state’s most recognizable biotechs, Celgene, used the program until it became profitable, which was key to it staying in the state, said local officials.

That has BioSpace is wondering if New Jersey is becoming the new face of biotech. What do you think? Can the Garden State compete with other longtime stalwarts like California or Boston?

Source: BioSpace Featured News

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