When Vision Equities, LLC and Rubenstein Partners purchased the 200-acre former Alcatel-Lucent campus in Whippany a little more than two years ago, the partnership recognized the property’s potential to serve as a benchmark infill revitalization for the State of New Jersey. This spring, the project – specifically the 2012 sale of 94 of those acres to Bayer Healthcare, and Vision/Rubenstein’s subsequent launch of the pharmaceutical giant’s new, build-to-suit 675,000-square-foot East Coast Headquarters on the site – has been recognized with three high-profile awards recognizing its impact.
In May, NAIOP New Jersey, the commercial real estate development association, honored the Bayer headquarters transaction with its Office/Mixed Use Deal of the Year award. “Our industry continues to demonstrate cutting-edge professionalism, and that hard work and creativity can bring success in any business cycle,” said Michael McGuinness, CEO of NAIOP New Jersey. “We congratulate Vision Equities and Rubenstein Partners on an achievement that has changed New Jersey’s economic landscape for the better.”
Also in May, the Bayer headquarters development received the 2013 United Way Impact Award, which recognizes a real estate project that showcases an outstanding commitment to the community. “United Way applauds Bayer for making the long term well being of our community a core vision of it headquarters project,” said Theresa Leamy, senior vice president for United Way of Northern New Jersey. “Likewise, Vision Equities and Rubenstein Partners are to be commended for their role in developing a project that keeps in mind the health and wellness of both employees and the surrounding region.”
Earlier, the Morris County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) recognized the project with its Real Estate Award – Office Category. In addition to honoring the Vision/Rubenstein partnership and Bayer Healthcare, each of the awards also recognized the contributions of Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., which represented the developers in the deal, and Resource Realty, which served as exclusive broker for Bayer Healthcare.
Finally, the transaction provided a featured case project for the Villanova Real Estate Challenge, a national development case competition for students from top real estate programs across the country. Hosted by Villanova’s Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate, the competition provides exposure for the next generation of real estate industry leaders to event sponsors and industry leaders, with each of 16 teams consisting of four students and an advisor judged by top real estate executives.
For the Bayer transaction, the event provided students with insight on completing a case study with a mixed-use scenario that included such important elements as sustainability and good planning in 21st century commercial real estate.
“At its core, our Whippany project illustrates the best of public/private partnership – from local officials, to the governor’s office, to the brokers who are helping us move from vision to reality,” noted Vision Equities’ Sam Morreale, co-founder and managing partner. “We really could not have asked for a better anchor for this campus. Bayer Healthcare deserves a great deal of credit for its dedication to creating a world-class East Coast Headquarters for 2,500 highly educated pharmaceutical employees. Bayer saw the opportunity to establish a state-of-the-art headquarters within the master-planned 200-acre mixed-use development, affording their employees a suburban work, live and play environment that is both pedestrian friendly and readily accessible in this key infill location at which the State, county and local municipality are executing the Smart Growth Plan to perfection. Quite simply, we were thrilled to offer an opportunity in Whippany for the company to do just that, and we are grateful for the recognition from these three prestigious organizations.”
The Bayer Healthcare transaction represented one of New Jersey’s largest 2012 property sales and launched the largest development project in the Garden State last year. The original property included 15 vacant office, laboratory and support buildings totaling 1.4 million square feet. It ultimately will become a sustainable, mixed-use community – including Class A office, residential, hospitality, senior citizen and retail components – illustrating the potential to transform underutilized antiquated facilities into vibrant, modern environments.
Bayer Healthcare will begin moving employees to the property this summer, consolidating from four locations. The Whippany site includes specific emphasis on sustainability, and the entire project has been designed to LEED Gold standards. It incorporates two existing structures (totaling 450,000 square feet) fully revitalized, reflecting a commitment to reuse. By example, more than 1 million square feet of ceiling tiles were recycled and remanufactured by industry leader Armstrong, for use by other LEED-conscious corporations.