Walker House at 540 Broad St. in Newark — Photo by Aaron Houston for Real Estate NJ
By Joshua Burd
A development and brokerage team has taken the wraps off more than 50,000 square feet of available office space inside one of downtown Newark’s most iconic buildings.
Located at 540 Broad St., the space is part of a mixed-use restoration of the historic New Jersey Bell building, now known as Walker House, which also includes 264 apartments and ground-floor retail space. L+M Development Partners has stepped up efforts to market the office space alongside JLL, having largely completed the adaptive reuse and with amenities such as a brewery, coffee shop and rock-climbing gym set to occupy the property by next year.
“This is one of the only true live-work-play commercial real estate opportunities in the state,” said Blake Goodman, an executive vice president with JLL. He noted that the development team recently completed a new dedicated commercial lobby, so “this is the first time that we’ve had the opportunity to have the building complete” for prospective tenants.
L+M Development Partners and JLL are marketing more than 50,000 square feet of available office space at Walker House, a mixed-use property at 540 Broad St. in Newark. The building also includes a recently completed resident lounge and rooftop terrace at Walker House, which are available for commercial tenants to rent. — All photos by Aaron Houston for Real Estate NJ
The 21-story tower has already secured two new office users — Per Scolas, a nonprofit that provides free technology training for unemployed or underemployed adults, and a presidential campaign office for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker. The former opened in March to become the building’s first new tenant, occupying nearly 6,200 square feet even as construction continued.
Today, the space serves as an example of what the building has to offer to users that are considering any of its 54,000 square feet of available office space.
“Every single tour, we’re walking tenants through to give them the vision and show them what this loft-style office space looks like, because sometimes it is hard to have vision when you’re looking at raw space,” Goodman said. “But I think this really gives a good depiction of what you can create and it’s actually not all that expensive to build something like this.”
L+M celebrated Walker House’s grand opening in mid-June, joining partners Prudential Financial and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. Renters have flocked to the building’s market-rate and affordable apartments, while the developer has lined up retail operators that will serve both residents and office users. The firm also recently completed a resident lounge and rooftop terrace at Walker House, which are available for commercial tenants to rent.
“We’re firm believers in mixed-use development because we feel like they all play off of each other,” said Jake Pine, a director with New York-based L+M. “You need the retail to support the office and the residential, and people want to live closer to where they work, so the office helps feed the residential and the retail.”
The joint venture has seen that formula be successful at the historic Hahne & Co. building, about two blocks south on Broad Street, where it completed a similar adaptive reuse project in 2017. Like Hahne’s, Walker House also benefits from being adjacent to a public park and accessible from both Newark Penn Station and Newark Broad Street Station.
What’s more, Hahne’s has helped to showcase the emerging technology sector in Newark, Pine said, citing the success of Launch Pad, a co-working operator that occupies 14,700 square feet at the complex. Both he and Goodman also pointed to the potential of Newark Venture Partners, an early stage venture fund housed within Audible.com’s headquarters at 1 Washington Place.
L+M and JLL are now in discussions to bring a co-working user to Walker House.
“The hope is that we foster that progression,” Pine said. “So we’ll have co-working and shared office in the building, and then once you grow, you come to us to lease the remaining space, so we keep it organic, we keep it all in Newark and you’re bouncing from one building to another.”
The office space at Walker House is drawing interest from companies in other sectors, which Goodman said is a reflection of the expanding tenant base in Newark.
“You’re starting to see a more diverse grouping of companies and, in general, I would say the demand for more urban work environments is a lot stronger than it’s ever been, especially in New Jersey,” he said. “And with most of these large corporations that are based in northern and western New Jersey, they’re starting to rethink where they’re located because they’re focused on the next-gen population and who’s going to work at their offices.”