A fifth-floor tenant suite inside the newly redeveloped Lincoln Building in Ridgewood — Courtesy: Saxum Real Estate Partners
By Joshua Burd
A three-year-old development and investment firm has launched its first fund, with a goal of deploying some $75 million to acquire value-add properties in transit-oriented downtowns.
The Parsippany-based firm, Saxum Real Estate Partners, has announced that its first acquisition under the fund is a site in downtown Red Bank, where it plans to reposition a historic marble and granite office building at 55 Broad Street. The property was built for First National Bank in 1914 and fully renovated for Smith Barney in 1998, but Saxum will now invest “significant capital” into renovations that will deliver modern office space to the Monmouth County borough.
The plan reflects Saxum’s overall strategy, which aims to bring value by offering all phases of the development process in-house. Led by industry veterans Anthony Rinaldi, a former broker, and Christopher Johnson, president of Hollister Construction, the firm is focused on quasi-urban communities that have drawn millennials and empty-nesters in recent years, with a goal of filling in those downtowns with new commercial space.
“What we’ve found is that most real estate transactions and redevelopments have focused on only one part of that — and that’s the residents,” said Rinaldi, a managing principal. “Only eight to 10 hours of their day that are spent there, but they still need places to work in that community and they still need places to shop.
“We focus a lot on office and retail, and we’re building product that you can’t really find anywhere else.”
Rinaldi said a key piece of that plan is “to bring SoHo the suburbs” by building commercial space with features such as high ceilings, exposed ductwork and wood or polished concrete floors. And the firm’s principals believe they can capture that niche in a distinctive way, in part by bringing institutional-level “capital, process and efficiencies to a market that’s underserved from the institutional standpoint.”
For instance, Rinaldi said, Saxum is mostly focused on deals in the $5 million to $20 million range, which might not be large enough to capture the full attention of large developers, but are “probably too large for your really local mom-and-pop players for them to be able to execute it efficiently.” Delivering on that strategy will hinge on the networks of Rinaldi, Johnson and the firm’s other leaders.
“The experience, innovation and creativity within our company is second to none and will be the key to the company’s growth in a highly competitive industry,” Johnson, also a managing principal, said in a prepared statement.
Prior to officially launching the Saxum Adamas Fund I, LP, the firm brought this strategy to a site in downtown Ridgewood. The company acquired the 24,000-square-foot site known as the Lincoln Building in early 2015, with the aim of completing a project that would “combine a historic boutique loft with modern design and functionality.”
“We saw an opportunity to redevelop the building, so when we acquired it, we slowly vacated some tenants, we stripped the building down to the bricks and steel and rebuilt it,” Rinaldi said. “And we subsequently re-leased it simultaneously.
“It’s 100 percent leased, and in our mind it’s one of the best boutique office buildings in Ridgewood and one of the better ones in Bergen County.”
Saxum’s management team also includes Chad DeBolt, director of investments, Sean Gilbert, director of acquisitions; and Michael Ochs, general counsel.