• Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

New Owners Pitch Former Merck Campus in North Jersey As Life Science Hub


May 26, 2023
Merck's former campus in North Jersey is begin renamed the Northeast Science and Technology, or NEST, Center. (Onyx Equities)


Onyx Equities is pitching its plans to convert the former Merck & Co. headquarters campus in North Jersey into a life sciences hub that it’s rebranding as the NEST Center.

Woodbridge, New Jersey-based Onyx and its New York equity partner Machine Investment Group acquired the 2 million-square-foot Merck complex at 2000 Galloping Hill Road in Kenilworth in February for an undisclosed amount. At the time, the companies said they would repurpose the 100-acre site for next-generation life science use, but they didn’t offer details on their plans.

On Thursday Onyx unveiled its plans, saying it would be rename the property the Northeast Science and Technology, or NEST, Center. Onyx said its goal is “to position the property as a hub of research and innovation in the Northeast region of the United States.”

NEST Center co-founder and managing partner, John Saraceno is slated to share plans for the research-and-development campus while attending the BIO International Convention, set for June 5 to 8 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. NEST Center plans to have a booth at that event. Saraceno is also an Onyx managing principal and co-founder.

“The biotechnology industry has a high demand for both turnkey and customizable solutions,” Saraceno said in a statement. “Prior to NEST, many health tech companies, especially those in research and development, were forced to wait years for adequate laboratory and work space. NEST allows those on the cutting edge of medicine to focus on finding cures — rather than an office location.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has made re-establishing the state’s standing as a life-science leader one of the cornerstones of his administration, and the NEST Center could get it closer to that goal. The Garden State, a pharmaceutical hub, has seen a wave of redevelopments of former corporate headquarters, in part because the consolidation and mergers of a number of the drug makers a few years ago led to those sites being vacated and put up for sale.

Plans call for NEST Center to include:

• 1.4 million square feet of laboratory buildings;

• 30 acres of redevelopment opportunities specifically zoned for research, lab and manufacturing facilities;

• 500,000 square feet of Class A office space;

• A turn-key vivarium, which is an area for keeping and raising animals or plants for observation or research;

• A redundant utility infrastructure, including a 25 megawatt co-generation power plant; and

• Amenities including a heliport, fitness center, conference centers and green space.

Onyx, known as an office landlord, has already attracted a life-science firm as a tenant at another property. Kenvue, Johnson & Johnson’s billion-dollar consumer spin-off, recently selected an Onyx property to house its new global headquarters. It will lease 290,000 square feet at Summit East, a former Celgene Corp. campus in Summit, New Jersey, that Onyx purchased in 2021.

Onyx chose to announce NEST at this year’s BIO Convention in Boston “because the event has a reputation for bringing together leaders, innovators, and investors in the life science, biotech, and medical device industries with the goal of commemorating the value that breakthrough biotech performs for society,” according to Saraceno.

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