NUTLEY, NJ — Mayor Joseph Scarpelli said the revitalization of the former Hoffmann-La Roche campus, which sat mostly dormant since the global health care company left in 2013, will have far-reaching benefits for the township.
Ralph Lauren Corp., which announced this summer that it will be relocating its Lyndhurst operations to 100 Metro Blvd, became the latest tenant at Prism Capital’s ON3 redevelopment project at the site.
The fashion retail giant joins the Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian Graduate School of Medicine; Hackensack Meridian Health’s Institute for Multiple Myeloma; and Modern Meadow, a company that biofabricates leather from collagen, to create a commercial and bioresearch hub that gives Scarpelli reason to believe the township’s economic future looks bright.
He said that “Ralph Lauren” is a name that people know, adding that “we are hoping it attracts other people to the site, eventually. The development company, Prism Capital, has done a great job marketing the site. We are working along with them to see how we can continue to increase our ratable base by building other lab space. So, we are happy about that.”
With Ralph Lauren set to occupy 235,000 square feet of office space starting in 2019, Scarpelli said that four of the five buildings on the 116-acre campus that spans Nutley and Clifton will be fully occupied.
Scarpelli said the ON3 project will lead to the creation of many jobs. For instance, Ralph Lauren’s arrival will lead to the creation of about 225 jobs.
The creation of jobs, the generation of tax revenue and the positive impact on the town’s home values aside, Scarpelli said the ON3 project could be a boon to the township’s shops and restaurants. He said the people working in these offices, classrooms and laboratories will be a short walk to places where they can have lunch, pick up groceries or have their nails done.
Scarpelli said that right now you have about 1,000 to 1,400 people going in and out of the site. “So, Ralph Lauren will be another 1,100. If we fill that other vacant building, you’re talking about another 1,500 people. Hopefully by the end of next year that will happen. And then Quest Diagnostics,” — which has relocated to the site from Teterboro — “which is on the Clifton side still on the site will have 1,400 people in and out of the site. We’re going to get up to a point in the not too distant future where we’ll have 7,000, 8,000 people in and out of that site.”
Since those 7,000 or 8,000 people would be a 10-minute walk from the businesses on High Street or Franklin Avenue, Scarpelli said he and the Township Committee are looking at ways to “connect that site to our downtown.” He mentioned that “bicycling” could be an option that could be explored. When asked if a shuttle service could be something he would consider, Scarpelli said, “All plans are on the table right now.”
Scarpelli said the ON3 project could also directly impact the township’s schools, which climbed 20 spots, to 146, on NJ Monthly’s latest rankings of New Jersey public schools.
“We’re looking to partner with the medical school as we move forward to benefit our students in Nutley,” he said. “We have a state-of-the-art medical school on our doorstep and we’re working with the school district and the medical school to see how that can benefit our students down the road.”
Many schools across the state join forces with nearby colleges. Roselle High School students, for example, can take classes that give them high school and college credits thanks to a partnership with Rutgers School of Health Professionals.
Scarpelli said the town is recovering from the impact that Hoffmann-LaRoche’s departure had on it. For starters, the redevelopment of the ON3 campus should help Nutley recoup some of the $10 million in taxes Hoffmann-LaRoche was paying annually. Nutley was able to secure transitional aid which helped offset some of that loss.
He said new development in town “has added over $80 million in accessible value and increased revenue by $2.2 million. The transitional aid coupled with the new development has avoided what could have been devastating consequences for Nutley taxpayers.
“The untold story is how the Board of Commissioners have worked together to help manage the loss in revenue, lobbied the state to secure state aid, controlled spending, and have weathered the storm. We get criticized at times, but I don’t think most residents appreciate the complex, multiple issues the board has been dealing with the last few years. I am proud to serve with these four dedicated public servants” — Alphonse Petracco, Thomas Evans, Mauro Tucci and Steven Rogers — “and excited about the future of our township.”