A rendering of Latitude, the two-building office campus in Parsippany that Vision Real Estate Partners and Rubenstein Partners LP are redesigning, rebranding and integrating with a series of new amenities and common space inspired by U.S. cities – Courtesy: Vision Real Estate Partners/Nelson
By Joshua Burd
One of the state’s top accounting firms will debut its new headquarters this summer, when it moves to a soon-to-be-transformed, two-building campus in Parsippany.
For the joint venture that owns the property, the deal is one of the first steps toward reaping the benefits of yet another high-profile investment in suburban office space.
“Tenants are being very discriminating,” said Sam Morreale, founder and managing partner of Vision Real Estate Partners. “I think they want really cutting-edge amenities, light and bright space that can help them attract today’s workforce. And I think as an industry we have to be very conscious of that and really deliver this high-level product.”
Vision and Rubenstein Partners LP, the owners of the complex known as Latitude, are seeking to do just that at the two-building, 700,000-square-foot campus at 389 and 399 Interstate Parkway. And with major renovations underway, the joint venture announced in January that accounting firm Sax LLP has signed a new 39,810-square-foot lease at the property, which followed a 187,000-square-foot renewal and expansion by consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser.
Sax is slated to relocate to the complex in August from its existing headquarters in Clifton. By that time, Vision and Rubenstein expect to have completed their overhaul of the 35-acre campus into a modern, hospitality-inspired workplace with multiple dining options, multiple fitness centers and a host of other common spaces. The new-look property will feature spaces inspired by U.S. cities — from New York to Denver to Los Angeles — with a design that will channel the straight line, east-to-west layout of the mirror-image buildings.
Sax, which was represented by Tim Greiner and Brendan McBride of JLL, said the updated space will cater to both its current workforce and future employees.
“As our firm has succeeded and rapidly grown over the years, we’ve paid close attention to the ever-changing needs of our employees and clients,” said Joseph Damiano, managing partner at Sax LLP. “With that, we’ve worked to find an environment that brings our capabilities to the next level and strengthens us for the future. Latitude provides us with world-class services, amenities and an environment that will help us attract the next generation of our workforce. Combined with the building’s innovative design, one can’t help but feel energized working at Latitude.”
Sax is the first new tenant to commit to the redesigned space. And the lease came alongside a recent 187,000-square-foot renewal and expansion by Reckitt Benckiser, which was an existing tenant when Vision and Rubenstein took control of the buildings in early 2018.
Morreale said the company is expanding by about 15 percent.
“They did have several years left on their lease when we completed the acquisition,” Morreale said. “But they decided to make the long-term commitment to the property, knowing what the future plans were for the property and understanding what amenities and what improvements we were going to bring.”
Vision and Rubenstein, which have partnered on other large-scale office projects in New Jersey, acquired the former Morris Corporate Center IV east and west buildings in separate transactions. They are now integrating the buildings and treating them as two symmetrical five-story wings comprised of offices, meeting spaces and lifestyle services and experiences.
The wings will connect through a newly constructed central glass atrium, with dining and fitness spaces reflecting different regions of the United States, depending on whether they are on the east or the west side of the campus. Morreale, whose firm has spent the better part of a year building the new amenities from scratch, said in January that those spaces were “in the last throes of completion.” He highlighted features such as an indoor turf track, a spin studio and multipurpose room for pickle ball and other team sports, along with a weight room and male and female locker rooms.
Reckitt Benckiser and Sax were among the state’s largest office leases in the fourth quarter of 2019. What’s more, market experts say the deals are emblematic of a value-add investment trend in the office sector that now goes back 10 years.
“While past expansions were centered around new construction, this was the decade of redevelopment, with limited new product and essentially no threat of overbuilding,” said Matt McDonough, a managing director based in Transwestern’s Florham Park office. “Office investors and landlords gained tremendous success through value-add opportunities, upgrading well-located and outdated product, while adding amenities to create a more hospitable environment for today’s office tenants and their employees.”