In addition to a new hotel, rooftop bar and medical arts building, ON3, the redevelopers of the former Roche property, is planning an approximately 37,000-square-foot grocery store to be built just off Route 3 east on the Clifton portion of the 116-acre campus.
The market would be about half the size of a typical supermarket, but larger than a Trader Joe's or Aldi. It would go just west of Metro Boulevard, the road that connects Route 3 to Kingsland Street in Nutley.
"My understanding is that they plan for the market to be the newest of the new," city redevelopment attorney Jaime Placek said.
This latest phase of the redevelopment plan moved a step closer to reality after the city of Clifton approved the new use for the property.
For some time, Clifton had been leery of any kind of retail or residential uses on site.
When Hoffmann-La Roche closed its doors for good, the city and Nutley, which has roughly half of the Roche property on its side of the border, agreed to hold out and try to attract corporations to the site.
"I think they wanted to make sure they didn't put a big-box store supermarket," Placek said.
Since then ON3, the campus name chosen by parent company Prism Capital Partners, has attracted a number of well-known clients such as the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, Ralph Lauren and Quest Diagnostics.
ON3 has been able to lease all the former buildings that once housed Roche as well as build a number of new ones in what had been massive parking lots.
ON3 principal Eugene Diaz has long insisted that ON3 is redeveloping the site for the long haul.
Providing services like the supermarket on-site helps set ON3 apart from other corporate centers, because workers and employers want to be able to work, do errands and socialize within the confines.
The new zoning will permit things like restaurants, coffee shops and a neighborhood market, so long as it is less than 39,000 square feet, Diaz said.
"I have no details to report," he said. "Everything is merely a work in progress."
Diaz said ON3 received a second good piece of news Wednesday when Essex County Superior Court Judge Keith E. Lynott made a partial summary judgment in its favor, Placek said.
Lynott determined that a Nutley ordinance it adopted two years ago and which prohibited the free flow of traffic along Metro Boulevard was not enforceable, Placek added.
"I see it as a good thing," Placek said. "Now we can all move forward."
He said at least from Clifton, they have been mystified by Nutley's objections to the traffic pattern.
"The irony is that those most likely to use the Metro Boulevard as a cut-through are Nutley residents," Placek said.
Nutley has said it was resisting ON3 efforts on the Clifton side because Clifton is getting all the additional tax revenue while Nutley is getting the bulk of the traffic.
Matt Fagan is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.