Sen. Charles Schumer met with Pfizer management and real estate executives Wednesday at Pfizer’s Pearl River campus to urge them to make sure the facility remains in use for biotech or high tech companies after Pfizer sells it.
Pfizer is going to sell the campus, but lease back some of it for its research and development. Schumer wants to make sure the manufacturing part of the campus will still provide jobs in either the biotech industry or another innovative area opposed to tearing it down or redeveloping. After the meeting, Schumer, along with local economic and industrial leaders, spoke on the Pfizer campus.
“Pearl River was one of first communities to give rise to an innovative cluster of cutting-edge firms making breakthroughs in biotech. This place has a history, and it has a history because of the workforce. The workforce hasn’t changed,” he said. “The companies' names changes, but the good workforce hasn’t, and that’s why we want to keep it going now. We don’t want a simple real estate transaction get in the way of destroying that.”
Schumer said the biotech industry in growing in the Hudson Valley, and Pfizer’s Pearl River campus is a big part of that.
“The bottom line is this facility is a gem and it’s primed for up-and-coming biotech firms to call home, and that’s what we’re trying to get here done,” he said. “But, there’s always a chance that the campus with such opportunity for jobs can be sold to a developer who would tear it down or do something non-job creating with it, and that would be a major blow to the valley’s high tech sector.”
The building itself is a reason why Schumer and others are hopeful they can find another company to buy the facility and move in.
“This facility is world-class. There are buildings here, some of them that were built less than a decade ago that would cost tens of millions of dollars duplicate,” said Michael DiTullo, president and CEO of the Rockland Economic Development Corporation. “The infrastructure is here, the water, the sewer, the access, the highway system, and most importantly, there’s a lot of smart people here. Today in a global economy, smart money follows smart people.”
Schumer said there is more than 2 million square feet of laboratory pharmaceutical manufacturing and office space in 20 buildings available.
“Keeping Pfizer’s highly specialized campus bustle with high-tech research and development firms is a top-rate plan for all the players in the game, and would an invaluable economic asset to the community and to business leaders,” he said.
He said the facility combined with the local workforce should be a big positive for perspective buyers. Michael Oates, president and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation, said there is great interest in the property, and that he agrees with Schumer that it should remain in either the biotech or high-tech fields.
“It’s really an opportunity to diversify the campus, bring more jobs and investment into the region, all within that framework that the senator has laid out of biotech and innovation,” he said.
Pfizer spokesperson Grace Ann Arnold said Pfizer is weighing all its options at this time.
“We are pleased Senator Schumer is committed to supporting biopharmaceutical innovation,” she said. “Pfizer is evaluating options for its Pearl River campus, which include leasing or selling vacated buildings, or a sale of the entire site with a lease back of the required facilities for [research and development] and manufacturing operations. The goal is an option that mutually benefits the community and the company, and that helps preserve the economic stability of the region.”
Schumer said in his meeting with Pfizer, he was told they have heard from other companies about buying the property.
“In the past few weeks, Pfizer solicited proposals for the sale and the partial lease back to them of the campus. There are several options on the table,” he said. “Pfizer is taking a good look at those. Now, this campus is highly specialized and it has unique features that make it one of the best places in the country for biotechnology.”
He said his main focus of the meeting today was to urge Pfizer officials that if they have two bids, one from a company that plans on using the facilities and one from a company that plans on redeveloping to go with the company that’s going to use the campus.
“We can lure people here, and we’re not worried even about demand,” Schumer said. “There are people who want to come here. We need a good facility. This is it.”