Originally appeared in North Jersey Record on Oct. 14, 2019

NUTLEY — As the Route 3 campus that was once home to pharmaceutical giant Hoffmann-La Roche fills up with new structures and tenants, some of the older buildings are undergoing makeovers to get some of the attention.

The building at 200 Metro, until recently encased in shiny marble, is now covered with glass that allows the upper floors to have an unobstructed view of New York City.

It was designed in the 1960s to be a replica of one of Roche's buildings in Switzerland, but now the building's 14 stories of marble have been removed, said developers of the site, now re-branded as ON3.

The marble was replaced with glass, which "really opens the building up," said ON3 principal Eugene Diaz.

"The view is unbelievable. You can see the New York city skyline, the Palisades, the Watchung Mountains," said Nutley Mayor Joseph Scarpelli, who recently took a look from the top floor.

"We always looked at the marble wall as an opportunity," Diaz said. "We always felt that the building would market much better with clear views of Manhattan."

The idea was formulated early on, when Prism Capital Partners, the redevelopers who bought the 116-acre Roche campus, had a vision to transform the site into "a next-generation lifestyle hub" where people will "work, live and and play."

It took some doing to figure out how to get the 7,500 square feet of marble down and match the glass curtain wall, which Roche had installed in 2012 to 2014 when they renovated the 300,000-square-foot building, Diaz said.

Roche originally designed the matching structure so its U.S. staff would feel the same as the workers in the Swiss headquarters.

"Funny thing, the eastern view in Basel, Switzerland, is not the New York skyline," Diaz said.

The building was fully leased to a tenant who backed out as the China trade war heated up and the Grow NJ tax incentives expired, Diaz said.

After the deal fell through, ON3 decided to move forward with the glass project.

Diaz said ON3 is in negotiations with potential tenants and hopes to have an announcement soon.

Scarpelli and Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi said the decision to find the right redeveloper for the campus is beginning to pay off. They expect to recoup most, if not all, of the $15 million in ratables and all of the jobs lost when Roche left.

ON3 projects that the campus will have 5,000 to 6,000 employees on the site by next year. About 11,000 worked at the Hoffman-La Roche facility.

Current ON3 tenants:

  • The Hackensack Meridian Medical School at Seton Hall University and associated laboratories employing roughly 2,000 workers.
  • About 400 people in the 111 Ideation Way (Modern Meadows) building. There are about 500 construction workers still at the site.
  • Ralph Lauren has begun to relocate the estimated 1,100 people who will work in the 100 Metro site. They expect the move to be completed by end of 2019.

Future ON3 tenants:

  • Quest Diagnostics, still under construction, with 1,100 people expected.
  • The 200 Metro site, which will add 1,000 workers.
  • Marriott AC Hotel, with seven stories.
  • A medical office building with 80,000 square feet, which will bring 80 jobs.

ON3 and township officials said Nutley merchants will benefit from the site's new tenants. Diaz said the company is exploring adding shuttle service to the municipality's downtown as well as additional amenities such as restaurants at the site.

A shuttle from ON3 to Nutley's downtown should take three to four minutes. It would be a 12-minute walk to Franklin Avenue, Nutley's main shopping area.

"There's a lot of good things happening," Diaz said.