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FRANKLIN TWP., NJ-Unilever has sold its 133,686-sf former R&D center at 150 Pierce St. here to a local investment group. The new owner has simultaneously leased the entire facility to a specialty pharmaceutical company.

The various parties involved in the transaction declined to identify the new tenant pending a formal announcement of its relocation from another site in New Jersey. The price was also not disclosed.

“The tenant is relocating from Bergen County and will utilize the space as its North American headquarters,” according to Frank Gunsberg of GVA Williams of NJ, Parsippany, who represented both the new owner, Paragon 150 Pierce Street LLC, and the still-to-be-named tenant. “This was a complex and challenging transaction.”

The property hit the market for sale or sublease in early summer 2003 when the parent shuttered its Unilever Bestfoods North America R&D operation and relocated it to the company’s headquarters in Englewood Cliffs. Completed in 1992, the asset features a 57,000-sf lab wing and a multi-function pilot plant area with 27-foot clear height. The 17-acre site also has the capability for future expansion of the existing facility, according to Gunsberg.

“Due to the lack of available facilities that were suitable, the tenant was forced to expand the scope of their search, including looking for space outside of New Jersey,” Gunsberg says. “This transaction is the result of many months of consultation to find a building with the infrastructure they needed. We were also able to assist them in obtaining grants from the State of New Jersey, which in the end was as instrumental as finding the right building.”

“This was a challenging project,” concurs Mark Schaevitz, principal of the new ownership. “It culminated in our acquisition of 150 Pierce St., which closely matched the tenant’s needs.”

Unilever was represented on-staff by Vincent J. Santella and the company’s attorney, Andrew Ellis of Wolff Samson. The outside broker for Unilever was Tom Sullivan, senior vice president in the Life Sciences Group in the East Brunswick office of CB Richard Ellis.

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