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Forest Laboratories selling Commack building

Forest Laboratories Inc. in Commack on May 15,

Forest Laboratories Inc. in Commack on May 15, 2014. Six of Forest's seven facilities in Suffolk County are slated to close, according to an email from the company. Those six operations employ 475 people. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Drugmaker Forest Laboratories Inc. is selling its cavernous building in Commack, a company official confirmed.

The Manhattan-based maker of branded-prescription medicines used to treat Alzheimer's disease, depression and other ailments has put 500 Commack Rd. on the market for $45 million, according to an advertisement from brokerage CBRE.

The move comes after Forest has spent millions of dollars to convert the building from a packaging plant to offices and labs, as part of a consolidation of nine properties in Suffolk County. Work on the conversion was recently stopped.

Forest agreed in February to be purchased by another industry leader, Actavis Plc of Dublin, Ireland for $25 billion.

"Following a full evaluation of our space requirements on Long Island, and taking into consideration recent head-count changes and cost reduction objectives, Forest has made the decision to exit our 500 Commack Rd. facility by about spring of 2015," company spokeswoman Amanda Kaufman said Thursday night.

She said 100 people work in the building and its sale "does not have any impact on head count nor is it indicative of any future plans related to employment."

Forest has more than 600 workers locally out of 5,800 across the globe. In December 2013, the company embarked on a "rejuvenation" plan that officials said would reduce its Suffolk payroll between 10 and 20 percent.

The Commack Road building, near Northern State Parkway, is more than 400,000 square feet and sits on 33.8 acres, the sale listing states.

The building may be one of the largest industrial properties in Suffolk to come on the market in recent years, said Jack O'Connor, a principal at the Melville office of brokerage Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.

"A space that size is probably going to be difficult for a Long Island user," he said, adding there was little interest from local companies in a couple of 100,000-square-foot industrial properties he is representing in Hauppauge. "I would think it would have to be a developer coming in to rehab the building and convert it into office space or multitenant space."

Besides the Commack Road building, the drugmaker owns two other offices in Commack and two in Hauppauge.

The spokeswoman said Friday that Forest sold a another 180,000-square-foot building, also in Commack, in the past year. That space had been rented to other businesses.

Forest sought help from governments in 2010-11 to consolidate its operation. The $40-million plan was backed by $3.3 million in tax credits from New York State, and $2.2 million in tax breaks from Suffolk. In return, Forest promised to add 10 jobs.

Anthony J. Catapano, acting director of the county's industrial development agency, said Friday it would "review all options . . . which could include benefits recapture."

Forest is the most high profile of two-dozen or so drugmakers in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Founded in 1956, the company spent its early years in Inwood.

-- With Lisa Du

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