HANOVER — Bayer Healthcare LLC will be moving into the long vacant Alcatel-Lucent property on Whippany Road, bringing 2,000 employees and plans to refurbish a main building on the site while adding additional structures and employees in the future, township officials announced today.
“We’ve worked real hard and are blessed to have a major international pharmaceutical company coming into our township,” said Mayor John T. Sheridan. “It will not only boost the Hanover Township economy but it will be a boost to the whole region.’’
Bayer had announced in April that it would combine its East Coast business in New Jersey and that the consolidated headquarters would be in Morris County. Bayer’s New Jersey operations currently are in Morris Township, Montville and Wayne.
The 194-acre Alcatel-Lucent property sold for $18.5 million in December to private equity firm Rubenstein Partners and Mountain Lakes-based real estate development firm Vision Equities. Vision has executed a number of developments in Hanover, including Cadbury on Route 10, and plans to build a shopping center development with apartments called Whippany Village at Route 10 and Troy Hills Road.
The Alcatel-Lucent property is comprised of two adjacent lots. The main lot at 67 Whippany Road has 15 buildings, including offices and research labs, totaling 1,354,751 square feet of space, according to information provided earlier this year by Rubenstein Partners. The 140-acre lot sold for $12.5 million. The other lot at 85 Whippany Road has about 50 acres of open space. It sold for $6 million.
The site had an assessed value of more than $97 million before Alcatel-Lucent began closing operations there in 2008. After Alcatel-Lucent closed operations on the site, its assessed value dropped dramatically. A recent tax appeal settlement between Alcatel-Lucent and the town brought the assessment to $42,737,300.
The tax bill is around $2 million a year, but that amount has dropped by hundreds of thousands of dollars along with the assessed value.
“We haven’t calculated the tax impact yet but certainly they will be our No. 1 tax revenue generator followed by the Morristown Airport, which will be No. 2,’’ Sheridan said.
Bayer plans to use 90 to 95 acres of the land at the site, according to Towsnhip Administrator Joseph A. Giorgio, who said the site is currently vacate save for some demolition work that is ongoing.
As many as 5,000 people worked on the site during its busiest time, which was when Bell Labs operated there during the Cold War. The Bell Lab operation was considered so valuable to national security that Nike missile bases were located nearby in East Hanover to safeguard it.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno had announced during a speech before the Morris County Chamber of Commerce that Bayer was looking to locate in Morris County. Sheridan said that Hanover had competed with two other towns to get Bayer. One of those towns as Mount Olive, which has the the mostly vacant massive former BASF complex within its boundaries.
Sheridan credited Gov. Chris Christie and Guadagno for helping get Bayer into Hanover but also said a lot of credit goes to the volunteer members of the township’s Economic Development Advisory Committee, who had been working to attract a tenant to the site. Township officials and volunteers have been working for about 20 months on the deal, Sheridan said.
Sheridan did not have the details of the sale price or other aspects of the contract between the developer and Bayer.
“Once they get site plan approval, they will begin work immediately,” Sheridan said. “I think this process will be expedited through the planning board and we should see all their approvals by November of this year.”