Honeywell on Tuesday announced plans to leave its global headquarters in Morris Township for a 40-acre office complex it has agreed to buy in neighboring Morris Plains.
The Fortune 100 company said it is abandoning its original plan to keep its headquarters in Morris Township, the company's home for more than 50 years, because of delay tactics and lawsuits from opponents to a planned redevelopment project there, which involved rezoning the 147-acre site to allow the construction of 235 townhomes and expanded office and lab space.
Instead, Honeywell is purchasing property and buildings on Route 53 in Morris Plains from McNeil-PPC Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company, officials said.
The purchase agreement includes 40 acres of land, a 475,000-square-foot building complex and parking garage. A company news release said the site has more than enough room for the 1,000 employees expected to work there and "will enable us to develop a truly world-class global headquarters while staying in Morris County and New Jersey.”
Morris Plains officials swooped in when progress in Morris Township stalled, the technology and manufacturing company said.
“Frank Druetzler, mayor of Morris Plains, contacted us as our re-zoning application for our current Morris Township site slowed," Rick Kriva, Honeywell’s vice president of Global Real Estate, said in the news release. "In Morris Plains, we found a great opportunity that’s close-by, has more office space, and can be fitted with our technologies. We thank Mayor Druetzler for his leadership and assistance.”
Honeywell said litigation from opponents to the Morris Township plan made the original project too risky.
“After two years and more than 50 public meetings, the opposition’s delay tactics and lawsuits bogged down the process and forced us to rethink our plans," Kriva said. "The litigation has created a significant level of risk and uncertainty in the market, leaving us without a reliable and timely way to proceed in Morris Township.”
Honeywell plans to make its new headquarters more energy efficient with technologies from the company's own portfolio, the company said.
Honeywell said its decision to move is subject to approval of its application with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority for state incentives under the Grow N.J. Assistance Program. The company expects the move to occur in 2015.
Morris Township Mayor Peter Mancuso said in a statement the township is "deeply disappointed" by the decision.
"It is sad to hear this decision, yet understandable in this competitive market," Mancuso said.
He said the new master plan for the 147-acre Morris Township site is still a good one, and the township will work to find future tenants for the location.
"Morris Township believes that our site remains superior to the newly revealed location in Morris Plains in all respects," he said.
The president of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, Paul Boudreau, said the move is a win-win for the county and the state.
"We now have certainty about Honeywell’s plans for the future and we are ecstatic that more than 1,000 high-paying jobs will remain in our community," Boudreau said. “Honeywell’s decision has two additional upsides for Morris County. First, their decision represents a net positive absorption of 475,000 square feet of existing office space in Morris Plains. Second, Morris Township has a new opportunity to determine a path forward for creating ratables and jobs on the existing Honeywell property in the years ahead."