Sunday, February 5, 2012

BASF is selling its 23-building complex, No asking price

by Natalie Kostelni
"BASF Corp. has put up for sale a 23-building complex here, in which some buildings have been in use for 80 years.

The campus at 300 Brookside Ave. totals 284,080 square feet in a mix of lab, office, warehouse and other space. BASF, a chemical company, inherited the property when it bought Cognis Corp., a specialty chemical company.

The facility has connections to the American Chemical Paint Co., which was formed in Philadelphia in 1914 by James H. Gravell. The company relocated to Ambler in a new plant constructed in 1922. The company’s first product was Deoxidine, a rust inhibitor for metal that was used in the car industry and other areas.

American Chemical later changed its name to AmChem Products Inc. and was bought by Union Carbide Corp. in 1977. Three years later, Henkel bought AmChem. Henkel established in 1999 an independent subsidiary for biotechnologies and environmental technologies under the name Cognis BV. For years, the Ambler campus was referred to as the Cognis site for operations working out of it.

Cognis was sold to a consortium of private equity firms in 2000. In December 2010, BASF bought Cognis, which is a smaller competitor based in Luxembourg.

BASF decided last March that the office and laboratory activities in Ambler would cease by the end of the first quarter of the year, with operations integrated into existing BASF businesses in Florham Park, N.J.; Charlotte, N.C.; Tarrytown, N.Y; and Wyandotte, Mich., said John Schmidt, a BASF spokesman.

All BASF lab employees will be relocated to new locations by March 31. After that, a small team of maintenance workers will remain at the site through the end of this year, Schmidt said. In all, 76 employees worked from the site.

Eight tenants occupy the space. About 54,000 square feet of the office and 44,000 square feet of lab space will soon become vacated.

No asking price has been set for the campus, however, the sale price will be ultimately affected by whether the vacant space gets released. With that space filled, an investor will find more value in the property and maintain it in its current state.

A developer might envision redeveloping a portion of the property and selectively demolishing some buildings while retaining the existing space currently being used by tenants. A master plan of the property was recently designed by KlingStubbins that gives one blueprint for how the campus could be redeveloped.

“It’s not a situation where you knock it all down and start from scratch. Everyone will look at this differently.”
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