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Bayer Looks To Sell 86-Acre Plot Adjacent To Morris County HQ

Bayer Looks To Sell 86-Acre Plot Adjacent To Morris County HQ
Bayer Pharmaceuticals' U.S. headquarters in the Morris County community of Whippany, N.J.

One of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world is looking for a new neighbor.

Bayer Pharmaceuticals has put up for sale an 85.75-acre lot to the south of its North American headquarters in Whippany, New Jersey, an unincorporated community within the township of Hanover in Morris County. The Germany-based company has selected Cushman & Wakefield as its broker for the site.

Bayer has owned the lot since it acquired the 194-acre former Bell Labs research and development site and built its new headquarters three years ago. In the intervening time, Bayer sold off a portion to insurance giant MetLife for its own international headquarters, while keeping what it dubbed the "South Lot" for land banking purposes.

"Once we got to changing strategy in New Jersey and overall, there didn’t seem to be any further need to keep the [South Lot]," Bayer head of U.S. real estate Matthias Muckle told Bisnow. "So we’re getting offers on the table to see what we can receive, and strategically thinking about who can become Bayer’s direct neighbor."

The lot, at 85 Whippany Road, is zoned OB-RL3 for office and research laboratories, but marketing materials from Cushman advertise the possibility of zoning changes should the most compelling offer for the property include another use. Mostly covered in grass and trees, it is one of the last greenfield infill locations that could feasibly come on the market in Morris County, Muckle said.

"It really needs to make sense from a master-planning perspective," he said. "The future concept would naturally fit in the current neighborhood from a building height and land coverage ratio; that’s a fair assumption to make."

Bayer's 800K SF headquarters sits on 90 acres, most of which is devoted to surface parking. MetLife's similarly sized building sits on 14 acres. Bayer doesn't have anything specific in mind for the South Lot, and if no offer seems like the right fit in terms of usage or price, it would have no problem continuing to hold the property, Muckle said. 

Muckle expects to know fairly quickly whether Bayer will wind up selling the lot, with offers having flowed in for the past two weeks. After a breather for the holidays, Bayer will hit the ground running in January to find a buyer that it can treat as something of a partner.

"If there is interest in the market, then the question is who’s interested in terms of a usage and the master plan concept, and the price is relevant as well," Muckle said. "If there are interested, qualified buyers in the market, we will find out pretty quickly. I don’t see this taking a year like it might in other markets."