Semeraro & Farhney, LLC attorneys serving as Special Redevelopment Counsel to the City of Clifton since their initial appointment in March of 2015, are playing a pivotal role in one of Northern New Jersey’s biggest and most significant redevelopment projects.
The project is located on a 119 acre site, bordered to the north by the east bound lanes of Route 3, which previously served as the United States headquarters for the international pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc. In 2012 the Swiss pharmaceutical giant announced it was moving its operations to California, shuttering its 80 year old New Jersey campus. The economic impact of the closing on both Clifton and Nutley was devastating. Not only did the closing of the pharmaceutical company’s campus cause the municipalities to lose significant annual property tax revenues, but many area businesses near the site also experienced a significant financial downturn from the loss of revenue generated by the nearly 1,000 workers at the site.
Semeraro & Farhney, LLC partner Mark Semeraro and Senior Associate Jaime Placek represented Clifton’s interest in the complicated redevelopment plan of the former manufacturing and office complex, which encompassed six buildings, including a research and development laboratory. Adding to the complexity of this redevelopment project is that fact that the 119 acre site spans two municipalities in two different counties: Clifton in Passaic County and the Township of Nutley in Essex County.
Semeraro and Placek guided the City through Phase I of the Redevelopment Project which resulted in the issuance of the necessary government approvals and execution of all necessary agreements for the rehabilitation and repurposing of two existing research and development laboratory buildings into a new private medical school campus. The medical school is a joint venture between one of the state’s leading private colleges, Seton Hall University, and the state’s most renown hospital Hackensack University Medical Center.
As part of the Phase 1 Redevelopment Project, Semeraro & Farhney, LLC helped the city achieve the designation of the entirety of the Hoffmann-La Roche campus as an “area in need of redevelopment;” the adoption of a Phase I Redevelopment Plan, the drafting and execution of the necessary redevelopment agreement and other important ancillary agreements. Semeraro and Placek, will continue to represent the interests of the City of Clifton in the complicated redevelopment of the former Hoffmann-La Roche campus.
The firm also successfully negotiating a financial agreement with the developer for a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) to the City of Clifton.
Semeraro & Farhney, LLC partner Mark Semeraro said the firm’s objective upon taking on the responsibility for shaping a redevelopment plan for the Phase I area of the site was to produce revenue for the City while ensuring that the site was not densely developed. “The administration of the City of Clifton made it clear that while it wanted this site to be redeveloped, there are serious concerns about traffic generated from the site and the impact development would have on the city’s schools. These legitimate concerns had to be balanced with realistic redevelopment opportunities,” said Semeraro.
Semeraro added that the redeveloper listened to the city’s concerns and in Phase I of the redevelopment project there is no residential housing construction planned.
“It has been the intent of the City of Clifton, as well as the redeveloper, to create a one-of-a-kind redevelopment environment that cuts against the grain of the customary mixed use projects that are ubiquitous in New Jersey,” added Semeraro. “With the medical school as the lynchpin for the 119 acre site, there is now a strong expectation of related industries moving into the site which will result in the construction of office space, as well as bio-tech and research and development mini campuses. These uses will bring strong tax ratables to the City of Clifton with a minimal impact on public services.”
Placek said that the fact that the former Hoffmann-La Roche campus straddles two municipalities in two different counties was overcome by the decision of the two towns to work together for the common interest. “It was imperative that the elected officials for each of the municipalities found a way to work together toward a redevelopment project that was not only acceptable, but also advantageous, to each. The Mayor and Council of Clifton did just that. As a result of those efforts, all residents of Clifton will now benefit, reaping the financial and numerous other rewards and benefits of this Phase I project for many generations to come, said Placek.