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Big Real Estate Win for the Garden State

Drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis signs the year’s largest office space dealBRIDGEWATER – New Jersey last week cemented a deal with Sanofi-Aventis under which the big French-based pharmaceutical company will locate its U.S. headquarters in the Garden State. The world’s third largest drugmaker agreed to consolidate operations now in New Jersey and New York City into a former AT&T campus with 670,000 sq. ft. in Bridgewater. NJBIZ was the first to report the company’s plans in its September “Real Estate Quarterly” issue.

The deal drew a sigh of relief from the local real estate community. “People were not looking forward to another 670,000 sq. ft. coming on to the market as vacant space,” says Mark Yeager, president of The Gale Co. in Florham Park, an owner of the building.

Sanofi-Aventis plans to phase in a total of of some 3,000 employees at the Bridgewater location over the next 14 months. NJBIZ has learned that this could include as many as 1,250 new hires. For starters the company will move most of its 600 employees from New York City plus some workers now in offices at three other Bridgewater locations.

The deal will locate all of Sanofi-Aventis’ U.S. pharmaceutical operations in New Jersey. Other Bridgewater facilities will house the company’s Northeast regional sales offices and an expanded sales-training center, plus research and development labs and employees overseeing global operations.

The company’s new U.S. home is a three-building, 150-acre complex at 55 Corporate Drive owned by a joint venture of Gale, S. L. Green Realty of New York City and a client of Principal Real Estate Investors of Des Moines, Iowa. The partners paid AT&T $125 million for the building six months ago and immediately began talking to Sanofi-Aventis, which was formed in the $65 billion merger of Aventis and Sanofi-Synthelabo in 2004. Robert Donnelly and Gil Medina of Cushman & Wakefield’s New Jersey office advised Sanofi-Aventis. Bruce Schonbraun of The Schonbraun McCann Group advised the joint-venture partners.

Helping to woo Sanofi-Aventis was New Jersey Treasurer John McCormac, who last year led a state team in a visit to executives of the merging companies. Among other things, they discussed economic incentives and the quality of the New Jersey workforce.

Sanofi-Synthelabo eventually came away with an $8.4 million pledge under the state’s Business Employment Incentive Program, based on its plans to create 850 new jobs. That grant will be renegotiated in light of the completed merger and Sanofi-Aventis’ plans to create up to 1,250 jobs.

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