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LG VP of Public Affairs Surprised by Opposition to Headquarter Plans

7-2-13

LG Electronics’ plan to build a new headquarters in Englewood Cliffs has been met with resistance in both New Jersey and New York. Critics, including four former New Jersey governors and several New York City leaders, say it’s too tall to be over a protected area of the Palisades. But LG Vice President of Public Affairs John Taylor told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he’s surprised by the recent criticism since the company went through a process of six public hearings in 2011 and made adjustments to the site plan then based on concerns.

“At the 11th hour we heard from certain folks across the river in New York that they were concerned about how this project would harm the Palisades in some way,” Taylor said. “We love the Palisades. It’s such an important part and fabric of our community.”

While Taylor admits there was resistance in New Jersey as well, he said all the concerns from neighbors were addressed during the process. “We made adjustments to the design and we’re planting over 700 trees on this property, increasing the green space. It’s 27 acres. We’re increasing the green space by over 50 percent. It’s going to be an environmental showplace for the northeast,” he said.

Taylor said LG aspires to be LEED Platinum, which is the highest level of environmental sustainability. “The U.S. Green Building Council in New Jersey says this would be the largest LEED Platinum project in the state,” he said.

The new headquarters is slated to be 143 feet tall, 35 feet higher than existing zoning laws allow in Englewood Cliffs. LG has gotten permission for the increased height, according to Taylor. “It has all the approvals from the borough of Englewood Cliffs, from Bergen County and from the state,” he said.

Taylor admits that the new building will peek above the treeline for people looking out from the Cloisters museum in New York, but he said it’s not the only building to do so, citing two 20-story apartment buildings in Fort Lee.

When asked if the design plans could be altered to reduce the height of the building, Taylor said LG continues to look at its options, but wasn’t sure changes would be made at this late stage of the process.

“We went through the year of hearings. A redesign of the project would mean restarting that all over again, opening the process up to more legal challenges and tens of millions of dollars of additional investment,” Taylor said. “I’m not saying we aren’t gonna do it and it’s impossible, but we have to weigh the business considerations as well.”

Taylor said LG hopes to remain in New Jersey rather than moving its headquarters to a different location, but its current headquarters won’t fulfill its needs going forward.

“Englewood Cliffs is our home. It’s been our home for 25 years. We really want to stay. It kind of depends how long this drags out,” Taylor said. “Our company is growing so fast, we envision increasing our employment in Englewood Cliffs from about 500 today to about 1,200 in 2017 and 1,600 by 2020. So we’re gonna need the space whether it’s here or somewhere else.”