Decision from Teva expected in December

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. ••

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