Sunday, January 1, 2017

For Now, Merck Need Not Widely Disclose Details Of Former HQ Sales Contract

For over seven years, we have followed the would-be (and actual) HQ moves made by the legacy Schering-Plough executives, and subsequently, for at least five, the correlative moves -- by Merck executives.

The latest chapter here -- in the ongoing battle over preserving essential services (schools, trash pickup and plowing, as examples) inside Readington Township, New Jersey has been over whether the public should be allowed to see the basis for the $124 million tax assessment (the highest tax assessment in the township) -- that belonging to Merck's former HQ site. For now, a New Jersey tax court has ruled that the details of the sale -- since scuttled -- need not be made public.

So we will keep an eye on this. For now, here's the bit, from -- as of this New Year's morning:

. . . .The Oldwick Road property has a three-story, hexagonal building with 1,747,632 square feet of office space, to underground parking garages, a 25,200-square-foot childcare center, a separate three-story 220,000-square-foot office building, two other parking garages and a 67,035-square-foot central utility building.

Merck offered the property for sale in October 2013. Merck then moved its headquarters to Summit, then, a year later, relocated to Kenilworth. Prior to moving to Readington, Merck's headquarters was in Rahway. . . . Readington was seeking the terms of the sales agreement so it could defend the $124 million assessment because, in New Jersey, assessments are based on purchase amounts. . . .

But Merck objected to turning over the sales agreement to the township because of its confidential provision. . . .

It matters a fair bit that the sale did not close. Obviously, once closed, the public land title and tax records will shed much light on a given buyer's identity and various other specifics. But that didn't happen, here. And it is true that Kenilworth would be put at a disadvantage -- in future efforts at marketing the property, if the public knew details -- of each failed sale.

So, onward -- as ever -- into 2017, with Merck still paying the taxes -- on this behemoth. To the movies, then. . . and smiling of sublime space science -- in copper colored hues. . . .


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