MetLife building

Vision Real Estate/Rubenstein Partners Sell One MetLife Way, Hanover for $95M

Vision Real Estate Partners and Rubenstein Partners have sold the newly completed MetLife Investments Global Headquarters property in Hanover to Salus Government Properties. The $95 million transaction marks the culmination of a pioneering, five-and-a-half-year initiative that has successfully repurposed and redeveloped the 194-acre former Alcatel-Lucent campus at 67 Whippany Road.

Bell Laboratories operated at 67 Whippany Road from the 1920s through 2009, and through mergers and acquisitions had become Alcatel-Lucent when the company relocated 2,100 employees to Murray Hill and put the property up for sale. In 2010, a joint venture of Vision Real Estate Partners’ predecessor firm, Vision Equities, and Rubenstein Partners purchased the campus – including 15 vacant buildings totaling 1.4 million square feet – with the plan to redevelop it as a modern campus reflecting its highest and best use.

Vision Real Estate Partners and Rubenstein Partners designed and constructed the 14-acre, 185,000-square-foot, One MetLife Way. The building opened in September, less than 18 months after MetLife signed its build-to-suit lease. The facility was designed to sustainability standards for LEED Gold Core and Shell and LEED Platinum Interiors.

The MetLife property neighbors Bayer Healthcare’s East Coast headquarters. The Vision Real Estate Partners/Rubenstein team sold 94 acres of the 67 Whippany site to Bayer in 2012, and subsequently redeveloped and expanded an existing building to create the pharma giant’s new 675,000-square-foot, LEED-certified facility there. Earlier this year, Bayer purchased an additional 86 acres of adjacent land.

Today, with nearly 1.1 million square feet in developed and approved space for MetLife and Bayer, the project has effectively replaced the obsolete Alcatel-Lucent offices. “Our goal from the outset was to set a new standard for improving functionally obsolete and underutilized, infill office real estate to institutional grade product,” said Vision Real Estate Partners’ Ross Chomik, managing partner.

“Throughout the process we have worked alongside first-class municipal, investment and service partners, and – of course – blue chip tenants,” he added. “The outcome at 67 Whippany Road validates the premise that if developers can acquire real estate at a basis that enables the investment required to redevelop it in a first-class manner – they can create next-generation assets focused on sustainability and quality of life. Everybody wins – the developer, the tenant(s) and the municipality.”

The redevelopment of 67 Whippany was truly transformative. Five years ago, a drive past the site would have shown low-rise concrete buildings with little obvious appeal apart from location. Today there are two flagship corporate properties that improve the look and feel of the surrounding area and add value to the local community.

“We believe that this transaction demonstrates the continuing appeal of high demographic suburban areas to major corporate tenants when the right product is made available to them,” said Eric Schiela, Managing Principal and Chief Operating Officer of Rubenstein Partners. “We bought this obsolete asset in a solid, infill location and, along with our partner and tenants, and the cooperation and support of the township, methodically undertook the hard work of transforming it into a modern, Class A environment. We are pleased to bring this complex investment to a successful conclusion that contributes best quality space to Hanover Township and the Morris County office market.”

A Cushman & Wakefield team led by Robert Donnelly, Rob Donnelly, Jr. and Marc Rosenberg has represented the ownership throughout the entire process and has been instrumental in each transaction. The commercial real estate services firm’s Metropolitan Area Capital Markets Group – headed by Andrew Merin, David Bernhaut, Gary Gabriel and Brian Whitmer – also were involved in leading the Salus Government Properties and Bayer sales. In 2015, a Cushman & Wakefield – Equity, Debt & Structured Finance team of John Alascio, Alex Hernandez and John Spreitzer, advised Vision Real Estate Partners and Rubenstein Partners in arranging a $54 million construction loan for the development of the office complex.

Vision Real Estate Partners’, Rubenstein’s and Cushman & Wakefield’s achievements have been recognized with awards from NAIOP New Jersey, NJBIA, the Morris County Economic Development Corporation, United Way of Northern New Jersey and the U.S. Green Building Council New Jersey.

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