June 6, 2014 at 10:00 AM
Advance Realty, the management company that owns the property where Sanofi used to be headquartered, has made a request to the township to have the planning board look into whether the site on Route 202/206 is one in need of redevelopment.
Unfortunately, the township turned them down.
Township attorney William Savo said in April that he received a letter from an attorney for Advance Realty requesting to have the site looked into as an area in need of redevelopment. If the township approved a resolution allowing for it, the planning board would hold public hearings concerning the possible redevelopment.
The site, Savo said, is currently 63 acres. Sanofi moved out of the property, which currently has a few pharmaceutical companies housed in it.
Simply allowing for the redevelopment investigation to begin would not require the township to take any action, except for allowing the public hearings before the planning board to move forward. Advance Realty would be required to prove that the site is an area in need of redevelopment.
If the planning board agreed, the ruling would come back to the township council for approval and any next steps to be taken.
“If the planning board says it is for redevelopment, the council can still say no,” Savo said, adding that there are state requirements Advance Realty will have to fulfill to prove it is an area in need of redevelopment.
Savo said they would have to prove to the planning board, among other things, that not doing a redevelopment plan would lead to blight on the property.
According to an attorney with Advanced Realty, the site was once assessed at $140 million. Now it is assessed at $40 million.
At full build-out on the site (which is currently mostly vacant), the property could be assessed at $179 million.
“We have the ultimate say in what happens,” council president Matthew Moench said. “I think this is a huge benefit to us, having more control is important.”
Councilman Allen Kurdyla agreed.
“There is a significant drop in revenue with how the site is now,” he said. “We want to take this site that is in distress and look at how we can improve the space for Bridgewater.”
But a resolution came before the council at the June 5 meeting, and only Moench and Kurdyla voted in favor of moving forward with the investigation. With councilwoman Christine Henderson Rose absent from the meeting, and councilmen Howard Norgalis and Filipe Pedroso voting against it, the resolution failed and the investigation into redevelopment of the site will not move forward.