UNION, NJ – Township officials gathered recently with Russo Development executives and Kean University officials for a groundbreaking ceremony for the upcoming mixed-use development -- Vermella Union -- at the former Merck site.

The first phase of Vermella Union will consist of 462 rental apartments, 65,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor amenities, and 40,000 square feet of retail space which obtained site plan approval last month.  Vermella Union will include over 1,264 luxury apartments and other uses in a campus-style, mixed-use setting. 

“Vermella Union is the result of more than three years of collaboration with Union Township on the planning and design of one of the largest mixed-use developments in northern New Jersey during the next decade,” said Edward Russo, Chief Executive of Russo Development.  “This property was one of the most significant pharmaceutical facilities in the state before becoming vacant several years ago.  Union Township had the vision to adopt a thoughtful Redevelopment Plan that was needed to allow the transformation of this unique site into a first-class destination that will complement Kean University and the surrounding community.” 

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Russo purchased the 55-acre property, which is adjacent to Kean University and the Union Train Station, from Merck in June 2017.  Russo recently sold 13 of the 55 acres to Kean University, which will use its portion of the site for additional parking and future development to support the University’s continued growth. 

“The departure of Merck from Union not only had an adverse effect on our workforce, but it also left us with an environmentally sensitive area in need of vision and transformation,” said Township of Union Mayor Suzette Cavadas. “Where we see blighted, vacant space, our friends at Russo conjured up a ‘transit-oriented’ wonder that will boast an apartment complex and retail center with first class amenities for its residents.”

Demolition work is currently underway at the site and vertical construction of the first phase of Vermella Union is expected to commence in the Spring of 2018, with initial occupancy planned for late 2019.