Circle Dec. 11 on your calendar. On that day a couple weeks before Christmas, an international drug company’s top management will be talking about Northeast Philadelphia.
Will Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. go through with its plan to build its North American distribution center on the site of the Island Green golf course on Red Lion Road? Or, will it bag coming to Philly and look elsewhere, or, just discard the idea altogether?
In May, Teva’s new CEO, Jeremy Levin, announced that he was going to provide an updated business strategy toward the end of the year. The Dec. 11 date for airing that strategy was announced Monday.
Early in the summer, company spokeswoman Denise Bradley said, “Once the strategy is approved by the company’s board of directors and presented to our stakeholders, we’ll be in a better position to update on projects of this magnitude.”
What kind of magnitude?
The plan to erect an eight-story high, 1.1 million-square foot warehouse on 136 acres on the edge of the city oozes “BIG.”
Six-hundred construction jobs, 400 permanent jobs, $300 million in construction spending and millions of dollars in government incentives were announced happily by politicians and company brass in late October 2010 as a boon for the cash-starved city.
That was almost two years ago, and a couple of other anniversaries will have passed before Dec. 11 without any of those jobs materializing and without any noticeable changes at the old golf course.
A big chunk of money was spent. In mid-August 2011, Teva, the maker of one in six generic drugs, bought Island Green, where the Budd Co. once built railroad cars. It paid more than $40 million.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held last September, and once again, plenty of politicians shared the joy of what Mayor Michael Nutter called the biggest economic development of his administration, but no ground actually was broken.
What happened after purchase and groundbreaking that seemed to put the brakes on things was that Israel-based Teva’s big boss, Shlomo Yanai, retired. Levin was named to the company’s top job in May, and a new board of directors took over, too. The new CEO and the directors then started reviewing the company’s business strategy.
By then, it was obvious that nothing was going to be built by mid-2013, the construction-completion date that was projected way back in fall 2010. ••