Unilever has been shedding HQ trophy properties in recent years, and reconfiguring its North American operations, most notably Lever House in Manhattan, which was snapped up by RFR Holding and is currently being rehabbed. The latest property to be jettisoned is 818 Sylvan Ave. in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, also known as Lever House. While not of the stature of Manhattan’s Lever House, it’s nonetheless a major landmark on NJ’s upper Hudson River waterfront.

The Garibaldi Group of Chatham transacted the deal, selling the building to Commercial Developments International-East, Inc. on behalf of seller Conopco, Inc., a Unilever subsidiary. CDI was repped by John A. Schepisi of the law firm of Schepisi & McLoughlin, Englewood Cliffs.

As an adjunct to the sale, CDI turned around and cut a deal with cable channel CNBC to put up an executive office complex and studio facility. To accomplish that, the existing 87,000-sf facility will be razed and a 300,000-sf state-of-the-art complex will be built. Approvals for the project have already been secured, including up to 500,000 sf of total development potential. CNBC has also received a $4.6-million, 10-year grant from the State of New Jersey, tied to job creation (160 additional jobs are expected).

Interestingly, the Garibaldi involvement with this project goes back some 40 years, when the company represented T.J. Lipton Inc. (the tea people), now an operating division of Conopco, when Lipton bought an adjacent 27-acre corporate HQ site in the early ’60s. Along the way, Lipton became a Unilever brand and the property became a Lever House. The Garibaldi people who did the latest deal included CEO Jim Garibaldi, SVP Joseph J. Garibaldi IV, and VP Gerald E. Moore, Jr.

Another sign of the times is the deal’s turnaround. A tight market does that on the transactional side. Says Donald A. Smith, Unilever’s assistant general counsel on the real estate side, “this was the quickest transaction I can remember. We were under contract before the property formally came out on the market.”

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