Pharmaceutical firm buys golf-course acreage

Teva North Amer­ica fi­nally signs on the dot­ted line and will build a dis­tri­bu­tion com­plex on 136 acres of Is­land Green.

An in­ter­na­tion­al phar­ma­ceut­ic­al com­pany’s plan to build a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter on the site of the closed Is­land Green Golf Course in the Far North­east has been talked about since the fall. The talk has fi­nally gained some sub­stance.

Den­ise Brad­ley, a spokes­wo­man for Teva North Amer­ica, said last week that the Is­raeli gen­er­ic-drug man­u­fac­turer fi­nal­ized its pur­chase of a 136-acre sec­tion of the former 18-hole golf course at 1 Red Li­on Road, along the Bustleton/Somer­ton bor­der, dur­ing an Aug. 18 set­tle­ment.

Teva paid $40 mil­lion for the tract, which was owned by White Pine Part­ners, op­er­at­ors of the former course. Ac­cord­ing to city re­cords, Is­land Green had a mar­ket value of $4.2 mil­lion.

Brad­ley did not re­spond to an e-mailed ques­tion from the Times that sought to learn what es­tab­lished the $40-mil­lion price tag that Teva paid for the 136 acres. A spokes­man for J.G. Petrucci, the pro­ject’s de­veloper, also didn’t re­spond to ques­tions about the real-es­tate trans­ac­tion.

The golf course, a former site of the old Budd Co. plant, which pro­duced rail cars, en­com­passed about 200 total acres and ex­ten­ded in­to Mont­gomery County.

Brad­ley said that Teva rep­res­ent­at­ives hope to meet soon with res­id­ents of the area, but the com­pany plans to start con­struc­tion at the site at some point this month.

Dolores Bar­bieri, pres­id­ent of the Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation, figured that Teva would move swiftly.

ldquo;I knew they were go­ing to work pretty fast once they settled,” the civic lead­er said last week.

Last Oc­to­ber, when the deal to bring Teva to North­east Phil­adelphia was form­ally an­nounced, city and state of­fi­cials said the com­pany would spend $300 mil­lion to build and equip its mil­lion-square-foot North Amer­ic­an dis­tri­bu­tion com­plex. The pro­ject is ex­pec­ted to cre­ate up to 600 con­struc­tion jobs and 400 per­man­ent po­s­i­tions at Teva when the fa­cil­ity opens in mid-2013.

But in ad­di­tion to those jobs and the wage taxes they’ll gen­er­ate for the cash-starved city, the dis­tri­bu­tion com­plex will breed a lot of traffic. 

About 200 trucks per day will travel along Red Li­on Road to the fa­cil­ity, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures that Teva sup­plied in Oc­to­ber. All those trucks — and the cars driv­en by Teva em­ploy­ees — worry Bar­bieri.

“It just comes down to traffic, traffic, traffic,” she said dur­ing an in­ter­view earli­er in the sum­mer. “I don’t un­der­stand how they don’t see the im­pact.”

When the Teva pro­ject was an­nounced in the fall, a spokes­man for the de­veloper, the J.G. Petrucci Co. of As­bury Park, N.J., said truck traffic was ex­pec­ted to ori­gin­ate at Phil­adelphia In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port and from the New York and New Jer­sey ports. Trucks would ap­proach the prop­erty on Red Li­on Road, com­ing east from In­ter­state 95 and the Roosevelt Boulevard, and turn right onto Sand­mey­er Lane, said Petrucci spokes­man Tim Spreit­zer. He had said the com­pany didn’t ex­pect trucks to move west of Sand­mey­er. 

Em­ploy­ee traffic, however, would travel west of Sand­mey­er and enter the prop­erty from Red Li­on Road, where there already is a sig­nal. Much of the prop­erty fronts onto Red Li­on, which, just west of that traffic light, slims down to a two-lane street.

Bar­bieri said she at­ten­ded a meet­ing with city of­fi­cials and com­pany ex­ec­ut­ives in June. She was told that 50 to 60 trucks travel to a com­pany fa­cil­ity in North Wales each day without prob­lems.

“I said, ‘That’s not two-hun­dred (trucks),’” she said.

Traffic was a big con­cern in 2009 and 2010 when Teva ori­gin­ally pro­posed build­ing the dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter on 150 acres at County Line Road and Limekiln Pike in War­ring­ton, Pa. 

Two-lane County Line Road is of­ten con­ges­ted, even when it widens to four lanes farther east of Limekiln. It would have had to be im­proved to handle the truck traffic. Zon­ing vari­ances also were needed in War­ring­ton. 

The War­ring­ton Co­ali­tion, a com­munity group, op­posed the plan, and there were anti-Teva signs along War­ring­ton’s roads. More than 1,000 people signed an on­line pe­ti­tion in op­pos­i­tion to Teva’s pro­pos­al.

With its switch to the site along Red Li­on Road, Teva ex­pects to erect two build­ings 85 feet in height. Those build­ings and an ad­join­ing 45-foot-high struc­ture will provide up to 1.2 mil­lion square feet of space.

When the drug-maker’s com­plex opens in mid-2013, op­er­a­tions will be 24 hours a day, five days a week.

For dec­ades, the acre­age had sup­por­ted the rail-car op­er­a­tions of the Budd Co. When the plant closed in 1987, par­ent com­pany Trans­it Amer­ica even­tu­ally un­der­took a $30 mil­lion en­vir­on­ment­al cleanup of the prop­erty. White Pine Part­ners sub­sequently pur­chased the acre­age and es­tab­lished the golf course. ••

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or

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