The former Merck & Co. headquarters campus in Readington includes a signature hexagonal, 1.24 million-square-foot office building. — file photo
By Joshua Burd
The long-awaited sale of the massive Merck & Co. property in Readington is slated to close this fall, following the news that a California-based IT services firm has agreed to purchase the site.
UNICOM Corp. announced Thursday that it has signed an agreement with Merck for the 1,100-acre campus and its distinctive 1.24 million-square-foot office complex, all located in the township’s Whitehouse Station section. The site, Merck’s former global headquarters, had been on the market since the pharmaceutical giant announced in 2012 that it was moving its main operations to Summit .
Terms were not disclosed, but UNICOM said it expected the deal to close in October. The Beverly Hills-based company, which already has operations in New Jersey, then plans to rename the Oldwick Road campus the UNICOM Science and Technology Park.
“UNICOM is very excited to acquire this world-class IT Real Estate property as our Regional Headquarters for the New York and New Jersey region,” said Corry Hong, founder, CEO and president of UNICOM. “Our commitment to expand and extend our IT Real Estate portfolio and our services for industry leaders, especially those in the Banking, Insurance, Technology, Telecom, Pharmaceutical and BioTech sectors, is reflected in this investment.”
The property has vexed real estate brokers who had struggled to find a buyer for a sprawling office complex in a more rural section of the state, resulting in only rumors and potential suitors that never resulted in a deal. It also became a poster child for New Jersey’s glut of obsolete suburban office parks that are now struggling to attract large corporations and younger workers.
A team of brokers led by Dan Loughlin of JLL have overseen the effort to sell the campus in recent years. In an interview in early 2017, Loughlin said he knew the assignment would not be easy.
“No question about it, it’s a challenge,” Loughlin said last year, but noted that the property would allow a user to draw labor from Pennsylvania, while offering a complex “that’s got redundant infrastructure and is built at the highest quality.”
“There’s a real value opportunity for a potential tenant or occupier that wants to be in that market that just doesn’t believe you need to be in an urban market to attract millennials,” Loughlin said. “There are a lot of people who live in the suburbs, there are a lot of people who live in Pennsylvania as a lower-cost alternative but want to work in New Jersey, so I think there’s an opportunity there.”
UNICOM, a subsidiary of UNICOM Global, emerged as a prospective buyer late last year, much to the delight of local officials and businesses. The company, which has offices in Plainsboro and Parsippany, said Thursday that the acquisition is part of an effort to grow in the Northeast.
The company describes itself as offering in-house resources and flexible IT solutions to partners worldwide.