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Township Committee adopts redevelopment plan for a portion of former BMS site

The Hopewell Township Committee, through an ordinance, has adopted a redevelopment plan for the redevelopment of the former Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) site.

When the Township Committee convened earlier this month on Oct. 4, members of the governing body voted in favor of the measure to establish a redevelopment plan focused on the existing developed portion of the former BMS site inside the the ring road that circles around the developed section of the site.

Deputy Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning, Township Committeewoman Kristin McLaughlin, Township Committeeman Kevin Kuchinski and Township Committeeman Michael Ruger voted “yes” to adopt the ordinance.

Mayor Julie Blake was absent for the meeting on Oct. 4.

In 2020, the Township Committee designated the BMS site as an area in need of redevelopment. The portion of the site focused on in this redevelopment plan has access roads from the ring road to Titus Mill Road and Pennington Rocky Hill Road.

According to the plan the total site area for the former BMS property contains 433 acres and the section of the property focused on by the ordinance for redevelopment, known as Redevelopment Area A, comprises of 160 acres.

Township consultant Mark Kataryniak of Ferriero Engineering said with the ordinance centering on Area A, the balance of the property is Area B. Area B will be the discussion of a future redevelopment plan.

“In light of some development with BeiGene coming to this campus and in light of other development on campus it was necessary to accelerate the internal inside zoning for the developed portion of the campus that exists within the ring road that surrounds the property, while maintaining controls for the rest of the lot,” he said during the public hearing on Oct. 4.

The redevelopment plan for the site had to be split, Kataryniak added.

The developed property in Area A contains existing 500,000 square feet of research and development space, a 60,000-square-foot biology research lab, a 160,000-square-foot data research center and 300,000 square feet in office space.

The principal permitted uses within the area for research, innovation and development include offices; life science research development, experimentation and design; commercial pharmaceutical manufacturing; production and assembly, indoor agricultural uses; and child care centers.

“A lot of the focus of the redevelopment ordinance that was put in place here focuses on sort of where the development can occur, what the maximum yields of that development can be, and what triggers for protections and preservation would be in place,” Kataryniak said.

The township, in 2019, had amended the land use ordinance, allowing the property to be subdivided with multiple owners as the former BMS campus property covers 430 acres.

When BMS still owned the property, one of the first tenants to ink a leasing deal to the property was PTC Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company. The company signed a long-term lease in 2019 for about 185,000 square feet of space, which included an existing state-of-the-art biological production facility, and supporting research and operations buildings on the BMS campus.

BMS informed township officials and residents in 2016 about the company’s decision to sell the property after closing the Hopewell campus site.

In 2020, real estate firm Lincoln Equities Group acquired the Hopewell campus and continued the effort of attracting pharmaceutical investment.

During 2021, BeiGene, a global biotechnology company focused on developing and commercializing innovative cancer medicines, announced that the company had entered into a purchase agreement to acquire an approximately 42-acre parcel on the former BMS site with more than 1 million square feet of developable real estate.

The company plans to build a state-of-the-art facility that is expected to include commercial-stage biologic pharmaceutical manufacturing, clinical research and development, and the BeiGene Center for Pharmacovigilance Innovation.

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