The implosion of the former Nabisco factory in Fair Lawn set for April 15 is postponed due to a permit delay, according to officials.
In an April 5 update, officials from Fair Lawn and neighboring Glen Rock said a new date and time have yet to be determined for the event, but that the public will be notified two weeks in advance once it is scheduled.
After acquiring the 40-acre property on Route 208 for $146.5 million from the cookie and cracker maker’s parent company Mondelez International in October 2021, Greek Development has been moving toward redeveloping the site into a new, modernized distribution facility.
Following the start of asbestos cleanup and demolition last fall, the company expected to complete that phase of work in March, with implosion of the plant’s signature tower anticipated for this month.
In an April 6 statement issued to NJBIZ, Greek Development attributed the postponement to “delays in ongoing efforts with local and state agencies to fulfill all regulatory requirements and make all necessary pre-implosion arrangements.”
The East Brunswick-based real estate firm went on to say, “Ownership’s priority is to ensure the safety of its workers and the surrounding community and will continue transparency with the public as it works to revise the proposed schedule.”
During the demolition, Greek Development is responsible for the air quality, which is constantly being monitored by agencies from the county and state. According to the firm, representatives from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development have visited the work site on several occasions to ensure proper procedures are being followed.
To date, no asbestos fibers have been found in the air, according to Fair Lawn officials.
In recent weeks, residents in municipalities surrounding the plant have expressed concerns about possible soil, air and water contamination as a result of the implosion, with some even launching a Change.org petition calling for greater transparency about the demolition process.
Prior to the postponement, Glen Rock Public School District planned to close schools the Monday after the implosion “out of an abundance of caution.” However, given the delay, school officials said the district will be open April 17.
According to an application filed before the Fair Lawn Planning Board in late January by CLPF Greek Fair Lawn LLC, an affiliate of Greek Development, the project calls for a 644,000-square-foot warehouse that would include parking for 256 cars and 120 trailers as well as 102 loading spaces and 10,000 square feet of office space.
After opening in 1958, the local plant churned out some of Nabisco’s most popular brands, including Oreos cookies, Ritz crackers, Teddy Grahams graham cookies and Lorna Doone shortbread cookies. In July 2021, Mondelez closed the location, resulting in the loss of about 600 jobs and costing the borough about $1 million in rateables.
The Fair Lawn plant as well as a facility in Atlanta, Ga., were “no longer strategic assets from a geographic footprint perspective and both face significant operational challenges, including aging infrastructure and outdated production capabilities, which would have required significant investment to bring them to the modernized state required for the future,” Mondelez said at the time of the closures.
The company still maintains a presence in North Jersey, employing about 1,500 employees at its North American headquarters in East Hanover.