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Panasonic breaks ground on Harrison tech complex

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    A rendering of Panasonic's 48,500-square-foot technology complex in Harrison, which is set to open in summer 2013. (Advance Realty)
    A rendering of Panasonic's 48,500-square-foot technology complex in Harrison, which is set to open in summer 2013. (Advance Realty)

    Panasonic Corp. has stayed true to its promise to break ground on a 48,500-square-foot technology complex in Harrison, breathing economic life into the former industrial town.

    Located barely a mile from its future North American headquarters in Newark, Panasonic's technology center will house the company's engineering offices, as well as a lab and testing facilities for its research and development arm. The building is adjacent to Red Bull Arena and Harrison's 76-year-old PATH station, which the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will redevelop and modernize next year through a $256 million investment.

    "Once the Port Authority announced their plans for the train station, I think it sent a significant signal to the business community that Harrison is a very viable location. In fact, we're willing to spend significant dollars on infrastructure because of its location and proximity to mass transit," said Peter Cocoziello, president and CEO of Bedminster-based Advance Realty, which will co-develop the property with Russo Development. "Transit locations attract a demographic of younger people who are the engineers and technology people in this world, so this is a tremendous location for other tech-driven companies to be … and we've seen an immense amount of interest."

    Cocoziello said Advance Realty is already planning housing projects and working to secure a grocer and a department store within the approximately 450,000 square feet of commercial development space it owns in proximity to Panasonic's site.

    In a statement, Harrison Mayor Raymond McDonough said "the prestige of the Panasonic brand and the company's commitment to innovation in green electronics will mean a lot to the Harrison redevelopment area. It will mean employment opportunities for our residents."

    Cocoziello said the Panasonic project will generate at least 100 construction jobs, from its Oct. 9 groundbreaking to its completion in early summer 2013.

    With both developments in Newark and Harrison moving on schedule, Mike Riccio, Panasonic controller and vice president, said the electronics giant expects to move operations out of Secaucus by the summer.

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