Novo Nordisk, the Denmark-based developer of insulin and diabetes care products, has announced that it will spend $215 million renovating the 770,000-square-foot former home of Merrill Lynch at 800 Scudders Mill Road when the pharma giant moves its American headquarters from College Road East in 2013.

Novo Nordisk has signed a 15-year lease for the entire building, and plans to move 1,500 employees into 500,000 square feet at Scudder’s Mill Road, with an option to take the balance of the building at any time. The deal, which expands Novo’s presence in the Princeton-area market by approximately 150,000 square feet, represents New Jersey’s largest commercial real estate transaction this year. The renovation project is expected to generate 500 union construction jobs when work begins in September.

Novo’s president, Jerzy Gruhn, said the renovation “keeps us in New Jersey, reduces the impact on our employees and the environment, and allows us to meet the expanding need for our medicines.”

Worldwide, Novo has grown from about 2,000 employees to nearly 4,500. About 1,000 of those are housed in the company’s buildings on College Road and at 1100 Campus Road. Novo expects to add another 300 employees here by the time it is ready to move into Scudder’s Mill, then expand by another 200 soon after.

Merrill Lynch built the site at 800 Scudder’s Mill Road in 1985 and stayed until 2006. Another major financial firm, Blackrock, moved in, but has since moved most of its operation to University Square at Route 1 and Alexander Road. Blackrock is expected to be out of Scudder’s Mill completely by the end of this fall.

The owners of the site are Ivy Equities of Montvale, LCOR of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, and Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation of Boston. LCOR and Ivy Equities will gut the former Merrill Lynch site from top-to-bottom and replace the building’s facade, roof, interiors, and mechanical systems. HOK, a New York-based firm, will be the architect for the project.

Steve Tolkach of Newmark Knight Frank represented Novo Nordisk in the deal. Sovereign/Santander and Wells Fargo banks served as co-agents for the development financing. Holliday Fenoglio Fowler of Florham Park arranged the joint venture equity and construction financing for the development.

#b#Novo Nordisk Inc.#/b# (NVO), 100 College Road West, Princeton 08540-6213; 609-987-5800; fax, 609-919-7801. Jerzy Gruhn, president.

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