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SECAUCUS, NJ-Hard on the heels of the groundbreaking for Lantis Eyewear’s massive warehouse facility in Harmon Cove (see earlier story), Corporate Express Office Products has signed a deal with developer/owner Hartz Mountain Industries for a 339,000-sf build-to-suit W/D facility on 18 acres. Beyond its size, the deal represents a momentous event: Those 18 acres constitute the last developable parcel in the 750-acre Harmon Cove tract, capping a development process that began 34 years ago.

Leonard Stern, founder of Hartz Mountain Industries and chairman of parent Hartz Group, bought the land in 1966 for $10 million in a deal widely viewed as folly. With its location adjacent major highways a few miles west of New York, Stern, however, saw the tract as a potential alternative to high-cost New York, and time has proven him right. From that raw land have emerged more than 13 million sf of W/D facilities and office space, 120 outlet stores, three hotels, 1,400 luxury condo apartments, plus townhouse condos in two side-by-side Hackensack River waterfront developments.

It also includes the Meadowlands Hospital and Panasonic’s U.S. headquarters. Other corporate names include Gucci, MSNBC, UPS, CBS, UPN-9, Datek Online and Children’s Place. The entire development remains in Hartz’s 35 million-sf portfolio.

“Panasonic committed to Harmon Cove in 1974 when most people perceived Secaucus as nothing but pig farms,” recalls Emanuel Stern president/COO of Hartz, itself headquartered in Secaucus. In recent years, Emanual Stern has been instrumental in shepherding the development process begun by his father.

Nor is Hartz finished. “This is a significant milestone, but we have a great deal of development to come,” says Leonard Stern. He points to over 200 acres the company owns in the metro area, and several properties in Jersey City. Interesting, the $10 million Hartz paid for those 750 acres in 1966 is the same amount it paid in 1998 for the one-acre site on which it’s building the one million-sf 90 Hudson Street in Jersey City.

“In both cases, we were offered a lot more than we paid right after we bought both sites, and in both cases we intend to keep the property in perpetuity,” according to Emanuel Stern.

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