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Biotech firm offered $32M to relocate to ex-Roche site
northjersey.com
July 25, 2017
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New Jersey's Economic Development Authority has awarded a Brooklyn biotech firm $32.2 million in incentives to move to the former Hoffmann-La Roche campus in Clifton and Nutley.

The EDA board approved the Grow New Jersey tax credits for Modern Meadow at its July meeting, according to spokeswoman Virginia Pellerin. The grant is contingent on the company making the move, and meeting its projected job creation and retention, as well as a $20.8 million capital investment, she added.

As proposed, the project would create 263 new jobs in New Jersey. The state's incentives would span a 10-year period.

Prism Capital Partners of Bloomfield bought the 116-acre former Roche campus in October 2016. Seton Hall University and Hackensack Meridian Health are planning a medical school for the site, and Prism is marketing the property as "On3," incorporating living, working and playing at the Route 3 site.

The "mini-metropolis in the suburbs" could create a synergy among like-minded, life science businesses, Prism Principal Eugene Diaz recently told The Record.

Leather without livestock

Modern Meadow, founded in 2011, uses design, biology and engineering for sustainable manufacturing, the project summary states. For example, it currently bio-fabricates leather materials using "blocks of nature," such as collagen protein.

The material made from living cells improves on the strength-to-weight ratio of traditional leather made from animal skin, the firm claims.

Modern Meadow's "reimagined" material technology will be part of Museum of Modern Art's "Items: Is Fashion Modern?" exhibit, which opens in October.

The company currently leases its Brooklyn facility on a month-to-month basis, according to the EDA's memorandum. New Jersey tax credits could entice the firm to bring its headquarters to Nutley instead of relocating to Farmingdale, N.Y.

A Modern Meadow representative could not be reached for comment.

Under the proposal submitted for Grow New Jersey, Modern Meadow would lease 119,327 square feet, composed of 72,907 in existing space and 46,420 additional construction. Total investment for construction, machinery, equipment and additional space would be $20.8 million.

The development, if implemented, would be completed by Dec. 31, 2019.

With the Grow New Jersey grant, the net benefit to the state would be $20.9 million over 30 years, the project summary states.

In June 2012, Roche announced the campus' closure, laying off 1,000 workers. The municipalities lost $15 million in annual taxes and were eager to redevelop the property with industries that offer high-paying jobs.

Medical school

In January 2016, the Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine was announced as an anchor for the property.

The school is expected to welcome its first class next year.

This fall, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the national accrediting entity, is expected to make a site visit, and there are additional steps before the school receives full accreditation status.

In April, the school appointed its founding board of trustees. Dr. Bonita Stanton, an international expert in pediatric medicine who has consulted for the World Bank, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, is the school's founding dean.