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LYNDHURST, NJ-Bergen Community College is set to purchase a 121,314-square-foot office building here for use as its south Bergen County Campus. Mack-Cali Realty Corp. is divesting itself of 1280 Wall St. West for $13.8 million to the Paramus-based two-year college. BCC then plans to spend another $7.5 million to renovate the five-story building, making for a total investment of $21.4 million.

The Bergen County Improvement Authority was scheduled to vote Wednesday on the issuance of nearly $19 million in bonds to finance the acquisition. The bonds will be repaid over 30 years by the college through a lease arrangement with the authority. As part of the Build America Bonds program, the federal government will pay 35% of the interest on the bonds, which will save BCC nearly $7.5 million over the duration of the 30-year-agreement, coincidentally making up the renovation costs. The college is kicking in $2.5 million toward the improvements in the building.

According to college president Dr. G. Jeremiah Ryan, the dislocation of the commercial real estate market made the building affordable. “What might have been an otherwise totally unavailable class A office building came within our striking distance,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “We had always planned to have a presence in the Meadowlands. In fact, we had first thought of building a building within the sports complex, which would have cost between $35 million and $55 million. This way we are saving the taxpayers $30 million and getting a building two years early.”

Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands opened in July 2008. The college currently leases a floor in the building and will take over the remainder of the property when the only other tenant in the building moves out by the end of this year. The college expects to take ownership before Sept. 30. A spokesperson for Mack-Cali declined to comment on the transaction.

“The building is amenable to rehab,” Ryan says. “Most of what we are going to be building is classrooms, so we need some walls, carpeting, some technology and we’re set.”

The campus currently has 1,500 students registered for the opening of the fall semester on Oct. 8. Offerings will range from general liberal arts and business studies, health and technology courses to specialty classes that relate to the economic environment in the Meadowlands, such as sports management, retail, hospitality and tourism.

Eventually, the campus will house 8,000 students, Ryan says, adding that most of the students are expected to come from communities south of Route 4 in Bergen County as well as Hudson, Essex, Union and Passaic counties “where the site is closer than their home community colleges.”

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