New Buyer for Alcatel-Lucent Property Steps Forward

Former 472-acre Bell Labs property is eyed by a new developer as an athletic center, say township officials.

Editor's Note: Mayor Patrick Impreveduto's statements about dormitories on the Lucent campus were clarified from an earlier version of this story, to make clear the proposed dorms would stand separately from the existing building.]

Alcatel-Lucent is in talks with a new buyer for its valuable property on Crawfords Corner Road, say township officials.

After working with contract-buyer Somerset Development for the past three years on a mixed use development plan, Alcatel-Lucent is now talking with a potential buyer who wants to purchase the 472-acre property and turn it into a sports center, said Mayor Patrick Impreveduto.

Impreveduto confirmed the development, as reported in the November issue of the Holmdel Journal. The Journal quotes an Alcatel-Lucent spokeswoman as saying that Somerset declined to match the new buyer's bid.

The future of the 2-million square foot famed Bell Labs building and its pastoral surroundings is of great interest in Holmdel, because the property was once the township's largest ratable. In 1997, Lucent paid $4.5 million in tax revenue to the town. It was vacated in 2008. Now it generates just $525,000 a year in tax revenue, according to Township Planner Jennifer Beahm of CME Associates.

Township officials are anxious to get the property re-developed and back on the tax rolls. The township business administrator has begun the 2012 budget process, and the hunt will be on for revenue. In June, the Township Committee's Finance sub-Committee predicted that Holmdel will face a devastating $2.3 million budget shortfall.

In August, Mayor Impreveduto and Deputy Mayor Serena DiMaso met with a Lucent property manager who came to Town Hall with representatives of four different organizations acting as one buyer for the property. "I had a meet-and-greet with them," said Impreveduto. "It was a quick conversation. They said they had intentions of keeping the building." The mayor also said there would be "a dormitory for kids to stay."

"The impression I had was that it might be a camp for athletes," he said.

Impreveduto said he did not know the names of the buyers. He said that the buyers did not have a solid plan to present back in August. "That’s why I’ve been calling Lucent every week to say, 'Have they presented a plan yet?'"

Said DiMaso, "They said it will be sports complex with some retail, not too much different than what Ralph Zucker will do." Zucker, the President of Somerset Development, presented his "town square" proposal to the public in June. It included preserving the Lucent building and incorporating elements of medical services, retail, office, sports fields, restaurants, lodging, a library, 100 age-targeted apartments and 30 single family homes. When completed, the property could produce $4.7 million in ratables, he said.

Township Committeeman Eric Hinds is on the Alcatel-Lucent Development sub-committee with Impreveduto. Hinds said he was not present at the August meeting because he was on vacation, but when he returned he was filled in. "They had a golf course, softball fields, and a sports dome for basketball courts," he said.

Township Committeeman Larry Fink said he did not know any details and that all he knew was that the potential buyer was interested in creating a "sports center" or "sports complex."

Holmdel Township has no say in who gets to buy the Alcatel-Lucent property. But it does have some control on how the property can be used. This year the Township Committee has designated the property in need of rehabilitation, because they say it is underutilized, deteriorating and in substandard condition. The designation gives the township flexibility on determining the future use of the facility. They continue to work on a redevelopment plan, and hope to have it finished by the end of the year, said Impreveduto at the October 20 Township Committee meeting.

Although the Committee at the public meeting in June, he said the township has not tried to contact the developer since they learned Alcatel-Lucent is speaking to another buyer.  "There is a confidentiality agreement" among the three parties, he said.

In a statement emailed to Patch Wednesday, Zucker said Somerset Development was "proud of the level of consensus we have been able to build among the community’s stakeholders to support the preservation and adaptive reuse of this property into a great public place and a significant source of tax ratables."

"Although recently, Lucent made a decision to pursue a different course with regard to the property's redevelopment, we remain ready, willing and able to execute the viable plan we put forth for the site," Zucker said.

Click here to read the Laura Kolnoski's article "Alcatel-Lucent Bombshell" on page 7 of the electronic version of the Holmdel Journal.

Jennifer November 06, 2011 at 02:28 PM
Hmmm....does your keen sense of right and wrong tell you that when you don't agree with someone, you should just call them names and invoke God as your justification? I went to catholic school, but I must have missed that day.
bud November 06, 2011 at 04:25 PM
Jennifer, you seem to have access to information that the rest of us do not have. If your info is accurate, please keep the rest of the town informed.
Jeff Rossi November 06, 2011 at 04:38 PM
Just to put into perspective the #s we're talking about here - of the $525,000 in taxes Lucent generates now, approx 16% goes to the town and 67% to the schools, or 84,000 and 350,000 (the rest disappears into the county). Although I'd like to improve on those #'s, the main focus should be getting the right buyer and development of the property as opposed to the one that gives us the most. Frankly, if we realized the same or worse tax receipts from the property and had to tighten our belts, I'd be ok if the new property owner and property usage was a fit for Holmdel. Another interesting point is that of the 475 or so acres, 215 generates 99% of the taxes. The rest is farmland accessed.
Jennifer November 06, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Bud, I spent a few months in the last year googling and paying attention to local news article relating at first to Somersets's other re- developments, their status - ribbon-cutting on Woodridge 6 years ago, he has built....NOTHING. Then his age restricted housing- oops, suing to lift the age restrictiion, then spreading out to include lawsuits filed against him, the indictment of his financial backer , his ties to Chris Christie - nice photo on the AP of him at the inaugural.....decided to look at the Lakewood voice to see what his reputation is in his own neck of the woods......went on forums for orthodox moms discussing his " age restricted" housing, then I started to find a lot of links to the political arm of the Jewish community in Lakewood, and a land- swap with the Yeshiva that is the subject of a lawsuit brought by the taxpayers of Lakewood, so I decided to look into the whole Chabad angle because, as I said, I didn't think much of it at first. But what I found out was eye- opening.
Jennifer November 06, 2011 at 06:11 PM
But let's put aside the Chabad thing for a moment. Who cares. He may just as well have purchased the property, zoning change in place, and then just sat on it for ....ever. A few weeks before the big presentation at the lucent building, he was meeting with the ( very disappointed) mayor of Woodridge explaining that the market was so bad in 2009-10 that he couldn't build any houses, but he would for sure have some for sale by the Spring of '11. So I called a real estate agent in wood ridge and asked if I could buy a house at his eevelopment there, and was told that there was nothing there, no infrastructure, and it would be years before there would be anything there. So Somerset being gone is not a loss to the town as far as I can see. You can still find this all online, although someone has being working very hard to bury a lot of the information. I did very general searches last year, and to find that information again I had to get much more specific. Jeff, I don't know much about the numbers, exceptthatI have heard the $525K and an amount for the sewer authority that they are protesting. But that is all I know.
Jeff Rossi November 06, 2011 at 06:23 PM
The tax info I got from the county web site. Lot 11 block 38. http://tax1.co.monmouth.nj.us/cgi-bin/prc6.cgi?
Jeff Rossi November 06, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Tony Orsini November 07, 2011 at 02:03 PM
Jennifer, I don't need God to illustrate your nonsequitors and prejudice. You are just the kind of individual the current governing body is catering to. Ultimately your peers will judge the validity of your views, and He will judge you as an individual, not me.
Tony Orsini November 07, 2011 at 02:34 PM
...then nothing will get done with Lucent, but, like you say. Not necessarily a bad thing. In this economy, caving to ANY developer could have bad consequences. Although Lakewood was fertile grounds for Somerset to operate and get changes they desire, not as much here. The no go in Woodbridge is telling about finances, so why finalize a deal that won't happen soon? The battle right now is to hold leverage by getting OUR Wastewater Management Plan approved by DEP. Unfortunately, unlike the 2002-2005 Township Committee that supported it (with Wall and DiMaso opposing it), the current TC has come late to the game, as has their Freeholder cronies, not helpful. My great fear is that if plaintiffs (Bayshore Sewerage Authority, Alactel-Lucent) get frustrated and go to the state and plead for relief on the basis of the town resisting development on prejudicial, bizarre conspiracy theories, they might they have CARTE BLANCHE removing all town control from the project. In the least, we would spend a fortune in legal costs to fight it.
Jennifer November 07, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Wait...why don't you get judged too? Oh, by the way thanks for erasing the part where you called me a lot of names. If I were running for TC for the Dems I would ask you to tone it down a notch.
Jennifer November 07, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Ralph Zucker MADE Lakewood fertile grounds. He served on the Vaad ( a group that controlled the orthodox voting block) for years, until he controlled the TC enough to get himself appointed to the Master Plan committee, where he promptly rezoned everything high density. But you probably knew that because you would have researched Lakewood' s history before calling down Gods wrath on someone.
bud November 07, 2011 at 03:52 PM
Don't you think you should give some credit for Lakewood's dual standard zoning to Sen. Singer? Lakewood is now the 800lb gorilla in the new 10th legislative district which includes Wall Twp, etc. What always amazes me about Lakewood's "theocracy" is their ability to maintain the most racially segregated public school system north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Where is Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and the NAACP on this issue? Obama?
Jennifer November 07, 2011 at 04:52 PM
Well, if you control a big bloc of votes, people ( governor Christie?) start to pander to you. by the way, the haredi- con tolled BOE had, I thought, recommended shutting down Lakewood high school. I will have to look that up again, because I try to get my facts straight.
Tony Orsini November 07, 2011 at 05:18 PM
There you go again, Jen. I thought the rules of intelligent engagement were to connect the dots with straight lines, not crooked ones. But I give you alot of credit for knowing a lot of facts on Jewish culture without being Jewish, and extrapolating a lot of intent from elsehere and past ventures, but I am unconvinced about connecting religion and business, whose purpose it is profit, hopefully residents also. Characterizing Somerset Developers as a Trojan Horse for the Jewish colonization of Holmdel is a bit off the deep end for me and detracts from more rational discussion of the issue of Lucent. I care not what flavor of developer we deal with if we are intelligent enough to contol it and derive benefit.
Tony Orsini November 07, 2011 at 05:22 PM
P.S. did not erase or call names, just characterized comments, much like you characterized Somerset (or "Zucker", as you describe).
Jeff Rossi November 07, 2011 at 05:32 PM
True enough Tony, but I think there is precedence to fear Zucker and his motives based on all of his documented past. I'd like to think we're all intelligent enough to want the right things, but control of those things can get wrestled away from even the most intelligent and collaborative communities. Hopefully Zucker is not an issue anymore - now it's a matter of understanding who the new buyers are, hearing their plans and working with them to create a win-win.
bud November 07, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Make that the 30th district.
Tony Orsini November 07, 2011 at 08:30 PM
True, Jeff. But I fear ANY developer if we do not have our act together. Their job is to turn a profit, usually for many partners. Somerset has gone some good things, and some not so good things. If Somerset or anyone else wants to make a legacy out of such a great a great property as Lucent, we can work with them. If all they are after is profit and their own agenda at the expense of the town, keep walking. Alcatel- Lucent needs to know the town will not bend to their lies and bullying, and we will fight them for as long as it takes even if we need to march on Trenton and expose their influence peddling. BTW, where ARE Kyrillos, Handlin, and O'Scanlon on this issue? Where have they been?
bud November 07, 2011 at 09:13 PM
K, H, and O, along with Sam Thompson, have been in the same place as Frank Pallone, Rush Holt, Jon Corzine and Jim McGreevey. All sleeping while we lost Fort Monmouth and Bell Labs for a total of 12,000 jobs! At least Pallone's wife got a job in the Obama white house!!!!!!!!
Jennifer November 07, 2011 at 09:25 PM
I think I want to check out of this conversation, but I want to say two last things. Bell Labs made this town, and now they are gone, but their legacy is not a building, whatever it's historical significance. The legacy of Bell Labs is the bright minds that they drew together, many of whom still live here and send their children to our schools. The schools - the Gems of the county in my opinion, and the reason most people are drawn here, the reason our property values are higher than those with whom we share borders - the schools are the true legacy of Bell Labs, and are the heart and soul of our town. I hope people still feel free to share views and information on this forum. And a disclaimer- I do NOT represent, endorse, or speak for ANY political party. I am a registered independent. I have in the past voted for some Democrats and Some Republicans, I try to hear them Speak, I read what they choose to say about themselves in the lead-up to the elections, and I follow them after. I would hope everyone who votes tries to vote with some knowledge of the candidates, and I think I have tried to be respectful on this forum. I am sorry for anyone who may have taken away a different impression.
Jennifer November 07, 2011 at 09:29 PM
It is really a lot of work to write Mr. Ralph Zucker, principle and owner of Somerset Realty. I do not believe it is insulting or anti-semitic if that was the implication, to refer to people by their names, especially when quoting them or referring to their body of work. I believe you have referred to a lot of TC members by their names.
Jeff Rossi November 07, 2011 at 10:12 PM
Well said.
Tony Orsini November 08, 2011 at 03:15 AM
In and of itself, referring to the principle owner, is not an ethnic slur. It is the total thread of discussion, focusing on WHO the developer is rather than the issue of WHAT happens. It thus distracts from evaluation of WHAT will happen and focuses rather on WHO is doing it. What prejudice is saying is that we care more about WHO is doing it than WHAT is being done. Who does this benefit? Not the town, but it gives relief to decision makers who have no vision as to WHAT should be done. As I have suspected for some time, there is some bias against this developer, and it hampers some legitimate concerns about Somerset which are getting lost in the shuffle. It is counter productive to addressing those concerns.
Tony Orsini November 08, 2011 at 03:38 AM
Well said Jennifer and Jeff. And thanks to Christina for suffering us. Bud, you will always be my fav character, especially since Buchanan let me down.
Jane November 08, 2011 at 03:53 AM
Jennifer, my family lives in Wood-Ridge, I was born and raised there, and I still live nearby. I must tell you that you are incredibly misinformed about Somerset Development's Wesmont Station project. The fact is that the first two buildings are well underway. These are luxury apartment buildings with some retail. I have watched as Somerset spent years cleaning up this site, installed water and sewer lines, widened Passaic Street and more. Parking lots and garages have been built, curbs and sidewalk installed, etc. If you doubt it, come see for yourself. I remember when Somerset first bought the site, the buildings were almost all vacant and I don't think the town was getting any taxes at all from the former owners. Since Somerset came in they have paid tens of millions of dollars in taxes, cleaned up the site and are actually creating hundreds of jobs and a great ratable. There was a recent article published just a month ago about the construction progress at the site: http://www.globest.com/news/2001_2001/newjersey/314037-1.html Frankly what happens in Holmdel is none of my concern, but I felt compelled to set the record straight on this.
Jennifer November 08, 2011 at 02:47 PM
Well, I did state that most of my research was done last year, and it included the ribbon-cutting on Wood-ridge Westmont station in 2006. What I see from following up on you post, not on your link but to the Wood-ridge Gazzette ( sorry but I am not familiar with the publication you cited) is that a golden- shovel ground-breaking was held in May 2011, and they express confidence that the first units will be available for occupancy in 2012.. So something is being built, by someone other than Somerset, but I am not really terribly impressed since there is still no train station, the entire poring of the project, and that is Somersets's contract, and there is still nothing available for occupancy. So yes, better than I thought, but I am not ready to say that he "successfully redeveloped" Westmont Station. By the way, what are you doing on the Holmdel patch? I feel compelled to ask. Since your link was to an industry news article, perhaps you work in construction?
Tony Orsini November 08, 2011 at 04:11 PM
I'm told former Republican muni chair Tom Scarano who posted now lives in South Carolina.
Thomas Scarano November 08, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Sorry to disappoint you Tony....I will retire someday in South Carolina but still here to make sure you dems dont tax and spend us into extiction. Good luck to you and your candidates today
steve November 08, 2011 at 07:27 PM
ok Tom, time to put up or shut up with some EVIDENCE on how Dems in the MINORITY for the last six years have taxed and spent us into extinction. If not, you're just embarrassing yourself dude.
Jennifer November 08, 2011 at 11:08 PM
;-) well, I didn't say it. But thanks for the reminder - with all this " a week before the election talk, I forgot to vote! Heading out right now, thanks all.


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