NUTLEY, NJ - Two years into his term as Township of Nutley mayor, Dr. Joseph Scarpelli continues the cost saving programs at the Department of Public Works while at the same time, working on the re-purposing of the former Roche campus into On3.
“The entire Board of Commissioners have worked hard to ensure that the re-development of the former Roche campus will provide a short term economic boost while also recognizing that the weighty decisions we make today will ultimately affect the future viability of our town long term,” said Scarpelli. “I am thrilled that the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall have decided to call Nutley their home and look forward to having their first class start this fall.”
The School of Medicine, Seton Hall’s College of Nursing, and SHU’s School of Health and Medical Sciences will have all their students educated at the Nutley campus in a unique interdisciplinary curriculum. This partnership will provide a world class education for all students on a state-of-the-art Interprofessional Health Sciences campus. Recently, Hackensack Meridian Health announced that it will assume all financial responsibility for the school beginning in July.
“The new arrangement will not have any effect on our agreements or the long-term success of the medical school,” said Mayor Scarpelli. “The negotiated PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) with the school was very favorable to the Township providing the same taxes paid in 2016 with an added 5% increase every 5 years. Additionally, there will be full taxation for the other non-academic floors and any future development of the medical school property.”
The school, which will be the only private medical school in New Jersey, is the centerpiece of the former Roche site which is now owned by Prism Capital Partners. Prism purchased the entire 116 acre site in October 2016. Prism has taken steps to convert the newly named ON3 campus into the premier commercial property in the state.
In the summer 2017, Modern Meadow a bio-fabrication company that produces bio-manufactured leather also moved onto the ON3 campus. They occupy 73,000 square feet of Building 102, a research and development building on the eastern part of the campus. Their relocation from Brooklyn was helped in part by a Grow NJ grant of $32 million in tax credits which was approved by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). Modern Meadow plans to add 200 employees by 2020.
Additionally, Hackensack Meridian will soon occupy the other non-academic floors of the School of Medicine and will also be conducting cancer research on the top floors of Building 102 to support their clinical partnership with Sloan Kettering.
“Modern Meadow is a cutting edge bio-tech firm that the Board of Commissioners is pleased to welcome to Nutley,” said Scarpelli. “Their addition to the ON3 campus fills three of the five vacant buildings left upon Roche’s departure. Modern Meadow, along with the medical school and new research activity, will definitely create quality job opportunities for our residents.”
In November, the NJEDA approved an additional $33.1 million Grow NJ award for Ralph Lauren Corp. The company, headquartered in Manhattan, has proposed leasing 255,000 square feet at ON3 in Nutley. They plan on retaining 518 jobs in the state and create another 250 positions. In addition, Quest Diagnostics will be relocating to ON3 in Clifton in a new 250,000 square foot facility, also supported by a NJEDA grant.
“During the past two years many pieces have begun to fall in place to start the transformation of the former Roche campus. I am confident that these positive changes will invigorate our local economy and increase our property values,” said Scarpelli. “We are optimistic that in the near future there will be 2000-3000 people in and out of the facility on a daily basis.”
The rejuvenation of the campus has already created a buzz. The township was featured in the New York Times Sunday real estate section. The article focused on Nutley’s beautiful park system and walkable downtown. Also highlighted were the rich traditions and quaint, small town character of the township. Additionally, the Park Pub located across from the main entrance to ON3 was recently purchased. The new owners plan to completely renovate the building and open a full service restaurant and cocktail bar in the coming months.
“It has been some time since our town received this kind of coverage in the Times,” said the Mayor. “That positive publicity, coupled with the exciting improvements on and around ON3 can only provide increased value to our housing market and a shot in the arm to our established businesses.”
Hoffman LaRoche was paying $10 million in taxes when it ceased operations in 2013, 10% of Nutley’s total tax base. Since that time, Nutley was able to negotiate with the state to secure transitional aid which helped offset the loss of revenue caused by Roche’s departure. Although controversial, new development in town has added over $80 million in accessible value and increased revenue by $2.2 million. The transitional aid coupled with the new development has avoided what could have been devastating consequences for the Nutley taxpayers.
“The untold story is how the Board of Commissioners have worked together to help manage the loss in revenue, lobbied the state to secure the aid, controlled spending, and thus far have weathered the storm,” said the mayor. “We get criticized at times, but I don’t think most residents appreciate the complex, multiple issues the Board has been dealing with the last few years. I am proud to serve with these 4 dedicated public servants.”
There have also been other challenges, especially dealing with the state cutting $1.8 million of Nutley’s transitional aid late last year. The reduction in aid impacted the proposed 2018 municipal budget resulting in cuts in both expenditures and personnel, especially in the Park Department and Public Works Department.
“In an effort to become more cost efficient we outsourced one-half of our recycling pick-up,” said Mayor Scarpelli. “Manpower was reduced by a combination of retirements, a transfer, and people who separated from employment. By privatizing a portion of the recycling there is a decrease in the 2018 DPW budget.”
A major disruption has been the PSE&G gas replacement project in the northeast end of town. PSE&G replaced aging cast iron gas pipes with new, durable plastic piping to ensure the safety and reliability of their gas system. The work caused multiple street closures and traffic issues. PSE&G is now in the process of restoring the roadways.
“Unfortunately, with any construction project there will be inconveniences to our residents,” said Scarpelli. “However, we were able to negotiate with PSE&G to maximize the repaving of our streets. We estimate that we will receive approximately $2 million dollars in restoration work to our local roads. Well worth the inconvenience.”
Although there are many exciting developments, the mayor acknowledged that there are challenges ahead. “Like all communities, we have some issues that need work, but I am confident as the positive changes continue our business community will prosper, employment opportunities will abound, and our ratable base will grow. I am honored and privileged to be Nutley’s mayor during this exciting time in our history,” concluded Scarpelli.
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