ave you ever made a list of all the coastal watershed counties of the 14 states on the Eastern Seaboard, home to 36 percent of the U.S. population? It comes to about 138 jurisdictions, or 4.4 percent of the nation's 3,141 counties and county equivalents.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This feature went to press before Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast. Look for updates on how the storm and its aftermath are influencing infrastructure and project planning in the New York Spotlight in the January 2013 issue of Site Selection, and online at www.siteselection.com.
Since January 2011, the number of corporate facility projects to land in those counties comes to 394 — about 6.5 percent of all projects tracked in the country by Site Selection's proprietary New Plant Database. Powered by assets from financial to institutional to nautical and logistical, New York and New Jersey lead the way.
In one sense, therefore, the East Coast fights above its weight class. Then again, given its port and metro-area assets sewn together by new lines of infrastructure along its old Main Line networks, the Eastern Seaboard is performing exactly as it should — with perhaps some room for improvement.
Found in Translation
As reported in the September 2012 Site Selection Life Sciences Report, Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche in September announced it had looked at some 50 sites up and down the East Coast before deciding to site its pharmaceuticals translational clinical research center (TCRC) at the Alexandria Center for Life Science – New York City, formerly known as East River Science Park.
Located in the heart of the East Side Medical Corridor, the location provides Roche with critical adjacency to New York City's nine major academic medical centers and its numerous ongoing clinical trials. Roche has signed an 11-year lease and anticipates moving its TCRC team to the approximately 421,000-sq.-ft. (39,111-sq. m.) West Tower of the Alexandria Center for Life Science, which is expected to be delivered during the fourth quarter of 2013. The company will be the anchor tenant of this new phase of the park's development, occupying approximately 60,000 sq. ft. (5,574 sq. m.) in the top two floors of the new tower.
Darien Wilson, director of public affairs for Roche, says the company's site search stretched from Boston as far south as D.C., with an original batch of 50 sites culled to 36 viable locations. Then it was down to two each in New Jersey and New York, followed by one site in each state. The New Jersey finalist was a new life sciences hub being developed in the New Brunswick area by a coalition including Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center and others.
Wilson says the two states' incentive packages were comparable, and "not a deciding factor." She says the Roche team worked closely with the offices of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, and was "very impressed with the hub they're trying to develop" in New Brunswick. "The difference is we already have that existing in New York," she says. "But it certainly has a lot of potential, we believe."
Wilson says each of the final four sites made a presentation to Roche's executive management and site selection committee, with the Alexandria site winning out because of a strong collection of scientific talent, academic centers and the biomedical industry in the vicinity.
"And within New York in that area we have nine existing collaborations ongoing," she says, "versus one in New Jersey." Roche's collaboration partners in the city include the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Columbia University, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Mt. Sinai and the Human Genome Center, with work ranging across therapeutic groups in virology, neuroscience and oncology.
The East Coast scope to the site selection was defined in part by the wish to offer positions to existing personnel at the Nutley facility. Wilson says 200 employees from Nutley will be transferring to the new center, but will continue to work from Nutley until the new facility is ready. "Fifty will remain at a location in New Jersey for more corporate-related functions," she says, supporting both the translational work and the pharma business in the U.S. "We have not decided where they will be."
As for the 119-acre Nutley campus, Wilson says Roche is soliciting bids from interested parties, and will work with a joint commission led by the mayors' offices in Nutley and Clifton, N.J., to find a suitable buyer and tenant for the site.
Alexandria earlier this summer announced a 15-year lease transaction for approximately 75,000 sq. ft. (6,968 sq. m.) with the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at Alexandria's Shady Grove Life Sciences Center in Rockville, Md. The lease expands the NIH's existing presence at Alexandria's translational life science campus to approximately 135,000 sq. ft. (12,542 sq. m.).
Alexandria's four-building, approximately 281,000-sq.-ft. (26,105-sq.-m.) campus at Shady Grove is now 97 percent leased. Given the significant demand in Alexandria's Shady Grove Life Sciences Center, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission planning board recently approved a preliminary plan granting approximately 231,000 sq. ft. (21,460 sq. m.) of additional density.
Voice of Americas
In Miami, a different kind of translational enterprise is being launched.
In October, ABC News and Univision announced they would establish a new English-language television network in Miami-Dade County that will add $274.52 million in capital investment and nearly 700 jobs within three years. The network, targeting the growing U.S. Hispanic demographic, will be based at Univision's operational hub in Doral, Fla., and is scheduled to open in 2013.
"The new ABC-Univision network will be headquartered in a state-of-the art facility and will retain and attract the very best talent in the industry, creating a thriving and dynamic production hub that will undoubtedly benefit Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida," said Cesar Conde, president, Univision Networks. "We look forward to becoming an integral part of the Miami-Dade community and its robust and rich media culture," said Ben Sherwood, president, ABC News. "From our new headquarters in South Florida, we'll build the network of the future to serve the many millions of Hispanics all across America."
"This is a huge win for our entire community and it illustrates the growth potential of the creative industries, one of the seven target industries of the One Community One Goal Strategic Plan," said Frank R. Nero, president and CEO of The Beacon Council, Greater Miami-Dade County's lead economic development agency. It's not the only such project to arrive recently: First Take Studios, a broadcast television production and feature film/motion picture production company, is expanding from Cleveland to an Enterprise Zone in Miami, and plans to add 40 jobs in the next three years along with $1.25 million in capital investment and construction renovations. "Miami offers a tremendous global opportunity for First Take Studios to produce, create, consult and develop TV programs and feature films/motion picture content because of the international landscape," said First Take CEO Alonzo Buchanan, Jr.
Details on the ABC/Univision project's design and fit within the already busy Univision hub were sketchy at press time. The capital investment will be used for facility construction and renovations including noise reduction technology and capital equipment, including digital production equipment. The Beacon Council estimates it will generate about $3 million in property taxes each year. The county is providing the company with a financial incentive of $3.5 million to be paid throughout seven years, a dent in the taxes generated during the same time, estimated to be $18 million. The City of Doral is expected to receive $355,857 in taxes per year as well. The state is providing the company with a financial incentive of up to $7 million.
The joint venture aims to serve more than 50 million Hispanics, the youngest and fastest-growing demographic in the country. Currently, Hispanics represent spending power of over $1 trillion, and 16 percent of the total population in the United States, a number that is projected to double to 30 percent by 2050.
Reaching more than a third of the U.S. population as efficiently as possible is one impetus behind the plethora of distribution centers scattered up and down the East Coast. A sampling:
In August Subaru of America announced it would relocate and expand its parts distribution center and training facility to a new location in Florence, N.J. The location, NFI Park at Florence Crossings, is located less than half of a mile from the New Jersey Turnpike and Pennsylvania Turnpike extension. The Subaru facility, the largest build-to-suit in the state in 2012, will comprise 526,050 sq. ft., and is scheduled to open on June 1, 2013. NFI, a supply chain solutions firm based in Cherry Hill, N.J., says it completed the transaction with Subaru of America and real estate brokers from CBRE, Inc. on June 29, less than three months from the initial proposal for the opportunity. NFI had positioned the site to be "shovel ready," including obtaining the New Jersey Department of Transportation approvals to construct significant highway improvements, so that it could react quickly to potential opportunities.
A payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) tax incentive provided by Florence Township was an integral component for the selection of the NFI Park site by Subaru, and will provide significant savings on real estate taxes during Subaru's occupancy. A solar array on the facility's roof, to be installed by NFI Solar, will also provide savings of some 20 percent off of Subaru's current electric bill.
In Frederick County, Va., not far from the easternmost sliver of West Virginia and the panhandle of Maryland, Philadelphia-based BPG Properties in October completed a 450,000-sq.-ft. built-to-suit lease for a new distribution center from healthcare services and IT company McKesson Corp. The project will be developed on BPG's 60-acre site Winchester 81 Logistics Center, located at Exit 323 of Interstate 81 in Winchester, Va. McKesson will invest $39 million and create 205 new jobs at the facility, where the company's medical-surgical unit will distribute medical and surgical supplies to physician offices, surgery centers, long-term care facilities and home care businesses in a regional service area that includes New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, eastern West Virginia, and northern North Carolina. This is McKesson's third operation in Virginia.
Shimano American Corp. a maker of fishing tackle and bicycle components, in October announced the expansion of its distribution center in Charleston County, S.C.. The expansion will double the company's original investment and increase employment at the facility by 50 percent. The new construction adds nearly 99,000 sq. ft. to the current 102,000-sq. ft. facility
"With this investment, it's much more than just doubling the size at our South Carolina facility — we'll also be prepared for both current and future distribution needs for all our brands," said Dave Pfeiffer, president of Shimano American Corp. "Taking our original investment in 2003 in a 25,000-square-foot distribution center in North Charleston's Benchmark Industrial Park to another level again, this a needed positive step in order to increase services to our business partners up and down the East Coast, and throughout the Midwest and Southern states."