A rendering of what will be Unilever’s redeveloped headquarters in Englewood Cliffs. — Courtesy: OVG Real Estate and Normandy Real Estate Partners
By Joshua Burd
Unilever is selling its 325,000-square-foot headquarters campus in Englewood Cliffs to a joint venture of OVG Real Estate and Normandy Real Estate Partners, the developers said, under a deal that calls for them to redevelop and expand the property.
Terms were not disclosed, but the firms said the agreement calls for Unilever to lease back the land and building under an 18-year triple-net lease. Closing is expected to occur by late December.
Sitting at 700 Sylvan Avenue in Englewood Cliffs, the 23-acre campus along the Hudson River has been a Unilever corporate office for more than five decades. It is the North American headquarters of the United Kingdom-based consumer products giant.
The deal with Normandy and OVG calls for them to retrofit the property into “one of the most intelligent, energy-efficient and highly advanced corporate facilities on the East Coast,” the firms said in a news release. Substantial completion is slated for the fourth quarter of 2017, with plans calling for the developers to increase the size of the property by 28 percent.
“We’re very excited about transforming and extending our headquarters, to truly reinforce the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan,” Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America, said in a prepared statement. “This redevelopment is very much about improving the well-being of our people by providing them a healthy and productive work environment, while also reducing our environmental impact and helping increase the growth of our business.”
Kruythoff added that partnering with OVG and Normandy “was the right choice for us (based on) OVG’s credentials in creating sustainable, high-tech and smart spaces … (and) Normandy’s strong development, construction and operating expertise and deep relationships in the region.”
For Normandy, which is based in Morristown, the project is well-aligned with its focus on high-profile corporate real estate.
“This is a dream team, coming together to transform a hallmark structure in the New Jersey area into a truly modern, iconic one,” said Giorgios Vlamis, chief operating officer and partner of Normandy. “We’re thrilled to be part of this endeavor along with OVG and look forward to learning and sharing from each other as we go along. Our ambition is to raise the bar and have other companies aspire to the same standards in sustainability going forward.”
Plans call for the renovated headquarters to be both LEED- and WELL-certified, with goals such as reducing of carbon dioxide emissions, reducing energy consumption by 50 percent and reducing water demand via low flow plumbing, the news release said. The project also will result in significant technological upgrades, including an app that allows users of the building to tailor their work space, individual lighting controls and state-of-the-art audio visual installations.
All of the upgrades are centered on the goal of supporting “an unprecedented and optimal agile workplace environment,” the company said. Unilever has roughly 1,600 employees in Englewood Cliffs.
Coen van Oostrom, founder and CEO of OVG Real Estate, called it “an honor to begin our journey in the United States by partnering with one of the world’s most respected companies.” He said Unilever and OVG “have more than a shared vision in common,” noting that both have Dutch roots and “a passion to always keep innovating to create positive impact in the world.”
“This project gives us the golden opportunity to apply all that we’ve learned and mastered over the last several years in Europe, to the American context,” van Oostrom said. “I’m particularly looking forward to setting a new benchmark in sustainable building, along with Unilever and Normandy.”
As Unilever’s exclusive agent, Cushman and Wakefield played a prominent role in advising on and facilitating the partnership, the news release said. Other firms involved in the plan and facilitation of the project include:
- Architects: Perkins + Will
- Unilever’s legal advisor: Robinson Cole
- Legal advisors to the OVG-Normandy joint venture: Drinker Biddle & Reith and AKD Advocaten
- General Contractor: StructureTone
- Insurance Advisor: Parallel