Lenox to leave longtime Lawrence offices

The china, crystal and giftware maker is moving its Lawrence operations to Bristol, Pa.

By: Lea Kahn Staff Writer
Lenox Inc., which has been a presence in Lawrence since 1977, will close its corporate offices at 100 Lenox Drive and move across the Delaware River to Bristol, Pa.
   The Lenox Group, which owns Lenox Inc., announced the move Tuesday. The move is expected to take place May 1 when the lease with Brown-Forman Corp. expires, said Bethany Bullard, Lenox Inc.’s director of public relations and advertising.
   Township officials are "not happy" about the prospect of a long-term corporate resident and employer leaving the township, Municipal Manager Richard Krawczun said Wednesday morning.
   The move affects 165 employees in the Lawrence Township facility, Ms. Bullard said. Those employees will relocate to the new headquarters in Bristol, Ms. Bullard said. The company’s marketing, sales, product design and development and administrative functions are located in the Lenox Drive building.
   Lenox Inc. is moving into the Island View Crossing office complex, located in Bristol Borough, according to a news release issued by the company. It will become the anchor tenant in the office complex, which is a former Dial soap factory. The move has been in the works last since last summer.
   Lenox Inc. will lease 126,000 square feet of office space at the 183,000-square-foot site for 12 years, with two five-year renewal options, the press release said. The site was redeveloped for office use by Preferred Real Estate Investments, Inc., with support from the Buck County Redevelopment Authority, as part of Bristol’s revitalization program.
   Susan Engel, chairman and chief executive officer of Lenox Group Inc., said in the press release that the company worked closely with the Pennsylvania Governor’s Action Team, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority, the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce and PREI to put together the deal.
   "We greatly appreciate the time, commitment and tireless efforts of all concerned who helped make this happen," Ms. Engel said. "We expect to improve productivity by having our design, product development, administrative, sales and marketing functions under one roof in a first-class facility."
   Brown-Forman Corp., which is located in Louisville, Ky., owns the 77,468-square-foot building, according to the Lawrence Township Tax Assessor’s Office. The building sits on a 12.5-acre parcel. The property is assessed at $9 million, and generated $321,524 in property taxes last year.
   Brown-Forman Corp. plans to sell the Lenox Drive building, according to a statement issued by the company.
   The decision to move was made after Brown-Forman Corp. sold the Lenox unit to Department 56, which is a collectible and giftware company based in Eden Praire, Minn., according to published reports. Department 56 changed its name to the Lenox Group Inc., which owns Lenox Inc.
   Mr. Krawczun said the township will miss the contribution that Lenox made to the community. Officials recognize the importance of all employers in the township in contributing to the overall quality of the business climate in Lawrence, he said.
   While the building may be empty, it will not affect the township’s ratable base, Mr. Krawczun said. The property owner is obligated to real estate taxes, regardless of whether the building is occupied or empty, he said.
   Mr. Krawczun said he is not worried that the building will remain empty.
   "The business climate in Lawrence Township and Mercer County will enable the property owner to either use the space for themselves or to find additional tenants," he said, adding that township officials learned Tuesday of the planned move.
   "We attract new businesses by creating a quality environment for residents, so it is attractive for businesses to locate here," he said. "That’s our main thrust. If we are contacted by a business (that is interested in the building), we will try to facilitate it to provide information (to the business owner)."
   The township is not directly involved in finding a tenant or in negotiations between the property owner and a prospective tenant, Mr. Krawczun said. The township does not do marketing, but it works to create an environment to attract new tenants, he said.