Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gaf Joins Corporate Exodus from Wayne

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gaf Joins Corporate Exodus from Wayne

Article excerpt

Beleaguered Wayne is losing yet another longtime corporate citizen, with the roofing manufacturer GAF Materials Corp. set to relocate its headquarters -- and 600 employees and contractors -- from a leafy, 99-acre campus on Alps Road to Morris County.

GAF, which has been in Wayne for more than 30 years, said on Wednesday that it is moving 18 miles west to Parsippany, to a 330,000-square-foot office building set on 40 acres. GAF is acquiring that facility, the former corporate headquarters of the real estate company Realogy Holdings, for $8.35 million.

GAF's exit is part of a recent exodus of companies, and more than 1,000 employees, from the township, which is feeling the aftershocks of the recession and bearing the burden of having an outdated inventory of suburban office space. Corporations continue to belt- tighten by consolidating operations and to seek modern, upgraded office space at lower rents.

The corporate departures from Wayne include Bayer HealthCare's consolidation of about 2,500 employees from Wayne and two other North Jersey locations, and one in New York, to Whippany about two years ago. Last November, a Drake's bakery on Demarest Drive, which employed 320 people, closed after its parent, Hostess Brands, filed for bankruptcy protection. In March, the chemical maker Ashland Specialty Ingredients said it was shutting its Wayne operation, located at GAF's campus, and planned to move 300 employees to Roseland and Bridgewater.

The exodus has a negative cascading effect on local merchants. John Lignos, the 26-year-old owner of Manny's Preakness Diner in Wayne, was among those expressing concern about GAF's departure. He estimated that half his breakfast and lunch traffic is GAF employees.

"That's gonna kill us," Lignos said. "It's going to impact us a lot."

Wayne Mayor Christopher Vergano, who has sought to address the corporate flight with a redevelopment plan, said GAF informed the township of its relocation plans about a month ago.

"Their operations on their site are spread over many different buildings, and they were looking to consolidate," the mayor said. "It was less expensive for them to move to an existing building in Parsippany than to build buildings on their current location."

GAF's vice president for business development, James Murphy, said the company, North America's largest roofing manufacturer, expects to leave Wayne in about 15 months. That's when renovation of its Parsippany building should be done. GAF will have its operations in one building rather than the 10 it now has in Wayne, Murphy said.

The entrance to GAF's Wayne campus is nestled among houses in a residential area. The property is about a half mile south of the Preakness Shopping Center and Wayne Hills Mall.

The Parsippany building where GAF is moving was sold on Tuesday out of foreclosure, said the listing broker, Thomas Dobrowski, managing director of Rockwood Real Estate Advisors. …

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