Back in 2012, the news that Roche was departing New Jersey for New York hit hard, signaling a painful loss of some 1,000 jobs.
But a new report shows the move might not be such a bad thing: Consultants hired by Nutley and Clifton said redevelopment options for the 119-acre site, which sits on the border between the towns, could produce up to 18,000 jobs and as much as $20 million in real estate taxes.
Clifton and Nutley issued a joint press release Tuesday to announce the report's findings.
The consultants, planning and design firm Perkins Eastman and Real Estate Solutions Group, developed several options aimed at creating jobs while maximizing tax revenue and property value at the site.
A joint letter from Perkins Eastman Principal Ming Wu and RES Managing Partner Patricia Adell to the mayors of Clifton and Nutley set forth three scenarios. The possibilities, according to the letter, all require between 12 and 25 years of redevelopment work, producing as much as $20 million or more in real estate taxes and resulting in 13,000 to 18,000 new jobs.
All of the report's suggestions focus heavily on reuse of the light industrial, office and biotech nature of the site in its current condition, with 2 million or more square feet of such space allocated in each plan.
The first plan includes a focus on hotel space. The second provides the most reuse of the existing biotech and office space. The third includes the most significant residential proposal of the group.
According to the report, in all three proposed plans Nutley will come out slightly ahead in estimated real property tax revenues, although the total revenue for both towns upon full build-out comes to about $23 million regardless of which plan is selected.
The consultants estimate that, depending on which plan is selected, redevelopment could result in more than $650 million in operational wages when complete. The first plan could produce as much as $1.4 billion in direct and indirect wages, according to the report — an amount that would dwarf the anticipated real estate tax revenue and potentially providing a significant economic boost to both towns.
While Roche is expected to sell the site, leaving actual redesign plans to the buyer and the developer of their choosing, the letter called for changes to current zoning rules to allow the tax- and job-creating types of use suggested in the report.
"The next step is for the towns to build upon the information provided by this report and prepare modifications to existing zoning regulations that will allow and encourage the desired development specific to the Roche site," the consultants wrote. "A successful process should allow a more expeditious approval process and hopefully, minimize development delays that hinder the ability of each municipality to replace lost tax revenue."
The report itself is embedded below.
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