Northeast Times

Teva backs out of Red Lion center

— Plans for a big dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter at the site are hal­ted as new top man­age­ment re­views com­pany strategy.

The once known Is­land Green golf course prop­erty re­mains va­cant, des­pite Teva’s (an in­ter­na­tion­al drug com­pany) plan to build a large dis­trib­ut­ing fa­cil­ity on the land, Tues­day, April 10, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

Don’t ex­pect to see an in­ter­na­tion­al drug com­pany’s eight-story ware­house punch­ing in­to the North­east Philly sky­line any time soon.

Is­rael-based Teva Phar­ma­ceut­ic­al In­dus­tries Ltd., maker of one in six gen­er­ic drugs sold in Amer­ica, has put on hold plans to build its North Amer­ic­an dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter at 1 Red Li­on Road, the site of the old Is­land Green golf course.

“Teva re­cently an­nounced that it would be re­as­sess­ing its glob­al net­work foot­print,” com­pany spokes­wo­man Den­ise Brad­ley wrote Monday in an e-mail to the North­east Times. “As such, we have made the de­cision to cease de­vel­op­ment plans for the pro­posed dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter on Red Li­on Road.”

The spokes­wo­man de­clined to elab­or­ate on the com­pany’s plans for the prop­erty, but did add that Teva was not look­ing to loc­ate the dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter any­where else.

The an­nounce­ment late Monday af­ter­noon con­firmed what City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill (R-10th Dist.) said he had learned earli­er the same day. State Rep. Ed Neilson said he also had heard the same on Monday from a Wash­ing­ton, D.C.,-based Teva ex­ec­ut­ive.

O’Neill said a com­pany ex­ec­ut­ive told him it in­ten­ded to main­tain the 136-acre prop­erty, 

May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter spoke with top Teva ex­ec­ut­ives Monday af­ter­noon shortly be­fore the com­pany an­nounce­ment was re­leased, said his spokes­man, Mark Mc­Don­ald. The may­or will con­tin­ue to work with Teva, Mc­Don­ald said. What Teva an­nounced Monday was a pause, Mc­Don­ald said. 

Budd Co. made rail­road cars on the prop­erty be­fore it be­came a golf course. It still is zoned for heavy in­dus­tri­al use, and is, per­haps, the largest such par­cel in the city, O’Neill said.

Teva had been prom­ised $4.7 mil­lion in state funds for the pro­ject, state Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-170th dist.) said Tues­day. That money was in the form of tax in­cent­ives and grants, he said, and the com­pany already has re­ceived a small amount.

“They’re go­ing to give it back, and that’s something I want to hold them to,” he said.

In late Oc­to­ber 2010, Teva and sev­er­al pub­lic of­fi­cials an­nounced the com­pany had picked the prop­erty on the city’s bor­der with Mont­gomery County to be the site of its new North Amer­ic­an dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter. Loc­at­ing in North­east Philly rep­res­en­ted a $300 mil­lion in­vest­ment for Teva.

The plan was to erect three multistory build­ings with a total 1.1 mil­lion square feet of space. Six hun­dred con­struc­tion jobs as well as 400 per­man­ent jobs to the city were ex­pec­ted. Also pre­dicted were about 250 trucks a day en­ter­ing and leav­ing the new fa­cil­ity once it was up and run­ning in mid-2013.

Teva bought the prop­erty for more than $40.5 mil­lion in Au­gust 2011. A month later, the may­or and oth­er pub­lic of­fi­cials once again joined com­pany ex­ec­ut­ives at a ground­break­ing.

“I love Teva,” the may­or had said, call­ing the com­pany’s Phil­adelphia plans the biggest eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment of his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Asked last spring why noth­ing was hap­pen­ing on the prop­erty, Brad­ley had said Teva’s top man­age­ment had changed and was re­view­ing the com­pany’s busi­ness strategy. 

Dur­ing the sum­mer, Brad­ley said ques­tions would be answered after a com­pany meet­ing Dec. 11. However, plans to halt the com­pany’s North­east Philly pro­ject were not an­nounced un­til late in the busi­ness day Monday.

A couple loc­al civic lead­ers were heartened by the news. Dolores Bar­bieri, who had been con­cerned about the im­pact of large num­bers of tract­or-trail­ers rum­bling through the neigh­bor­hood, said she was happy to hear Teva’s an­nounce­ment. Jack O’Hara, pres­id­ent of the Great­er Bustleton Civic League, said he felt “a huge re­lief.”

Two pub­lic of­fi­cials said they were dis­ap­poin­ted by the com­pany’s de­cision to re­verse course.

“While I am very dis­ap­poin­ted in Teva’s  de­cision,” state Sen. Mike Stack (D-5th dist.) said, “I re­main hope­ful that at some point they will build the dis­tri­bu­tion fa­cil­ity at Red Li­on Road.”

“It’s a loss for eco­nom­ic growth for the city and the re­gion,” U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13th dist.) said in a re­leased state­ment. The con­gress­wo­man said she was ready to work the com­pany, com­munity and the city to find a use for the prop­erty that “can be­ne­fit the people and eco­nomy of South­east­ern Pennsylvania.”

So far, the com­pany’s eco­nom­ic im­pact has been con­fined to pay­ing more than $120,000 a year in real es­tate taxes on the large, fenced prop­erty. ••

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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