FLORHAM PARK, NJ–When a 473-acre tract of land and buildings became available after Exxon and Mobil merged and moved their engineering division south to Virginia, it opened the door for two major developers to team up to create office space for a space-starved market.

The site is adjacent to both Gale & Wentworth’s 1.1 million-sf corporate HQ campus and the Rockefeller Group’s 840,000-sf corporate park here, so it’s no surprise the two developers jumped at the chance to do something with the property, which has been acquired from the oil giant. They’ve begun the planning and approval process for a 2.2 million-sf, $400 million project.

Indeed, the two neighbors had developed something of a mutual admiration society. “We have admired each other’s work for 15 years,” says Les Smith, SVP of development for New York-based Rockefeller. “We hoped we would be able to join forces on a suitable project offering the magnitude and complexities represented by this one.”

The ExxonMobil site will be redeveloped primarily as a class A office and research park, probably with a hotel and meeting space and other uses. No specific timetable has been announced, but “we intend to create a master plan for the property that complements both of our organizations’ existing properties,” says Stan Gale, chairman/CEO of Gale & Wentworth.

According to Michael Adams, real estate manager for the ExxonMobil Global Services Co., his company shopped the property to several potential buyers before selling it to Rockefeller and G&W. “They have long track records as high-quality, responsible developers,” he says.

Florham Park Mayor Barbara Doyle also likes the deal: “They have established corporate identities in the area, and their proposal has the potential to provide needed tax ratables and employment opportunities.”

The Rockefeller Group is a national developer of office and industrial projects, notably the 350-acre International Trade Center in Mount Olive, NJ. G&W manages and owns over 40 million sf of commercial property in the US and the UK.

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