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GRAPEVINE: Roche 'winner' in for issues

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Offers from developers interested in the sprawling Roche campus in Nutley and Clifton are due by the end of this week — and insiders expect interest to be strong.

But one source said the winning firm may have its hands full.

“Whoever they ultimately pick — and they will pick someone — is going to walk in there with no zoning,” the source said. “And I predict that it's going to get into a quagmire.”

Roche appears eager to get the 116-acre site off its books after vacating the campus last year, the source said. That means the Swiss drug maker, which has hired an international firm as a consultant, has stepped back from earlier plans to work with its host towns to rezone the site to make it more viable for redevelopment.

That task now seems likely to be in the hands of the winning buyer, which will be working with two governing bodies that are largely against having residential as part of the redevelopment plan. So it's “a recipe that things will just get delayed,” the person said.

But even with the potential headache, the source noted that interest will be intense from would-be buyers. The person expected “every large player” in the area to submit an offer by the June 20 deadline, perhaps even more than a dozen.

“It's a huge site in a North Jersey market,” the insider said. “That alone makes it appealing. Where else can you find that much land … in a North Jersey area to build? It's very unique in that respect.”

Millionaire’s tax compromise 

For the business community, the threat of a so-called millionaire's tax, a surcharge on the state's wealthiest, is nothing new. It's been brought up before and chances are it will be brought up again.

Except now, it actually has been proposed again. State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) announced last week that he has a compromise in mind.

The Democrats get their millionaire's tax and the Republicans get a repeal of the state's estate tax. According to Lesniak, it is the estate tax and not the income tax that actually sends New Jersey's wealthiest packing for greener, and more affordable, pastures.

“This compromise should alleviate concerns that a millionaire's tax will drive wealthy families out of the state,” Lesniak said last week.

So for the business community, does the addition of an estate tax repeal do anything to move the conversation forward on the millionaire's tax, which has previously been a nonstarter?

“No,” one source simply puts it. “It's just the same thing over and over again.”

Opponents of the measure are hoping that Gov. Chris Christie will stay true to his word and veto any millionaire's tax proposal that hits his desk, like he has already done several times.

‘Made in America’ bill concerns

A package of bipartisan bills that would require those receiving state-issued contracts to buy American manufactured goods for the contracted work continued to make its way through Trenton last week en route to the governor's desk.

Known as the “Made in America” bills, the package was advanced by an Assembly panel and considered by the full Senate last Thursday.

Two weeks ago, one source told NJBIZ that many had begun “flagging” the bills. Now, given their surprising “expediency,” the source says that for some, caution has now turned into concern. “They woke the sleeping giant,” the source added.

Some believe the measure to be anti-free market and not conscious of the state's increasingly global economy.

For a bill package that its sponsors probably thought would draw up little to no controversy, the source says he has received a “boatload of calls” on it from both here and abroad.

“People (have been) coming out of the woodwork in the last two weeks,” the source said.

Eyes now point to the Assembly, where the bill still needs to head for a full vote.

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