IRG Looks to Acquire Pfizer Campus in Pearl River

John Jordan | June 25, 2015

An aerial photo of the Pfizer campus in Pearl River, NY, circa 2012. Several buildings have been removed since the photo was taken.

PEARL RIVER, NY—Progress is being made on the sale of one of the two pharmaceutical corporate campuses on the market in Rockland County. While a sale could close by late summer on a portion of the Pfizer complex in Pearl River in a sale and partial leaseback transaction, little progress has been made to find a new user for the Novartis campus in Suffern.

Pfizer, Inc. has signed a purchase-sale agreement for nearly 200 acres of its life science campus here with Industrial Realty Group, LLC of Los Angeles. The transaction, which has not been finalized, would include a sale-leaseback component and could close by August.

Representatives of Pfizer and IRG confirmed that a purchase-sale agreement had been reached. A spokesperson for Pfizer said the pharmaceutical firm is hopeful that the transaction could close within the next 90 days. The two companies refused to divulge financial terms of the transaction that is now in the due diligence phase and subject to a confidentiality agreement. A representative of IRG confirmed the deal, but characterized it as a pre-purchase-sale agreement. IRG, a privately held company, owns and operates more than 150 major projects in 28 states totaling more than 100 million square feet of rentable space. Its management offices are located in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chicago, Akron/Canton, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, OH, Detroit and New York City.

Susan Rutledge, site communications lead for Pfizer’s Pearl River campus, said that the PSA between Pfizer and IRG centers on 222 acres of developed land at the more than 500-acre campus in Rockland County, NY. At press time Pfizer is seeking to subdivide and retain ownership of approximately 25 acres of the 222 acres for its research and development functions. Pfizer would retain those operations housed in three buildings at the 25-acre parcel at the southern end of the campus for the long term, she adds.

She added that another facet of the PSA with IRG would have Pfizer lease back some of the buildings it currently occupies at the campus until at least 2017 while its Prevnar vaccine is being manufactured at the property. At press time it was not known how many of the buildings would be leased back by Pfizer. The developed portion of the campus totals 2.1 million square feet in 28 buildings.

Pfizer has not made any decisions as yet on what it will do with the undeveloped portion of its Pearl River campus. The pharmaceutical company acquired the property—the former headquarters of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals—in October 2009. Rutledge said there are currently approximately 1,300 employees working at the Pearl River site. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were approximately 5,000 employees working at the Pearl River campus for predecessor companies. She noted that the 1,300-employee count should remain fairly stable until Prevnar production concludes in several years. At that time, the workforce will be reduced to approximately 550 employees.

The pending transaction between Pfizer and IRG was revealed by Rockland County Executive Ed Day and Rockland Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Michael J. DiTullo during a meeting of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors Commercial Investment Division on May 21. Day told Realtors at the meeting in New City that he had met IRG officials about the proposed purchase.

At the CID session, County Executive Day and REDC’s DiTullo said that a buyer for the Novartis campus in Suffern has not been found and the property may have to be marketed to other users in addition to the biomedical and biotech sectors. (See story on page 9).

Pfizer has been exploring its options on its Pearl River campus since 2010. Rutledge said that IRG was one of the firms that expressed interest in the property after an RFP was issued about two years ago. She said that IPG has been in talks concerning the Pearl River campus for about a year-and-a-half. JLL has been marketing the property for Pfizer.

REDC’s DiTullo said of the ongoing talks between IPG and Pfizer, “REDC is pleased that Pfizer and IRG have signed a PSA for the purchase of the Pearl River Campus in Rockland County. IRG has a very successful record of repositioning corporate campuses and industrial sites into dynamic, mixed-use high-tech corporate parks. REDC has been and will continue to be part of the team with Pfizer, JLL, IRG and the community as we transition the 2.6 million square feet from a single-use to multi-use world class life sciences park.”

He added, “Also, the fact that Pfizer is establishing its Center of Excellence in Rockland and occupying about 850,000 square feet for its North American R&D functions says a lot about Rockland County’s ability to be a world class competitor.”

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth