A rendering of Newark Urby at 155 Washington St. in Newark, which will include 250 market-rate apartments, 4,000 square feet of neighborhood retail space and a 4,000-square-foot Rutgers-Newark welcome center — Courtesy: L+M Development Partners/Urby
By Joshua Burd
A development team has unveiled plans to renovate and expand an 18-story tower in downtown Newark, under a $91 million project that will create 250 apartments and commercial space.
L+M Development Partners and Urby, a joint venture of Ironstate Development Co. and Brookfield Properties, announced Monday that construction is underway at 155 Washington St. The developers have closed on $61.5 million in financing, paving the way for substantial completion by spring 2022.
According to a news release, the project will mark the fifth in the region and the third in New Jersey under Urby, an alternative design concept for multifamily buildings. It’s also the latest in a series of high-profile developments in Newark by L+M, following the restoration of the historic Hahne & Co. building and the former New Jersey Bell tower, among others.
“L+M is proud to once again invest in downtown Newark’s future and further our long-term commitment to its ongoing revitalization,” said Sam Chapin, senior director at L+M Development Partners. “Newark Urby will bring a long-underutilized lot in the middle of downtown to life through the Urby brand with first class residences and amenities, community retail and community space. Thanks to our partners at Wells Fargo for helping the project reach this crucial milestone.”
L+M acquired 155 Washington St. in June 2019 from Rutgers University-Newark, with plans to redevelop the property into residential and commercial space, according to a news release. Construction recently began on what will be a renovation of the existing 18-story tower that was originally built as a parking garage in the 1920s, along with the ground-up development of a new four-story building.
At full completion, the complex will feature 250 market-rate apartments ranging from studio to three-bedroom units, along with a host of high-end amenities such as a rooftop deck, ground-floor courtyard, gym, lounge areas and a music room. The building will also include roughly 4,000 square feet of neighborhood retail, including a café, and a 4,000-square-foot Rutgers-Newark welcome center.
“The thriving, cultural hub of Newark is a perfect match for Urby as we focus on bringing community and fresh perspectives to retail and residential development,” said Dave Barry, CEO of Urby. “Newark Urby will celebrate the design history of the city with this renovated tower and connect the building to the energy of Rutgers University and the movement within New Jersey and to New York City via convenient public transit.”
Along with the recent construction financing, the roughly $91 million project will include subordinate debt and more than $20 million in Opportunity Zone equity raised and deployed by L+M and Urby, the news release said. The developers hope to capitalize on a location in the heart of downtown Newark, across the street from Rutgers-Newark and just blocks from light rail service and NJ Transit’s Broad Street Station.
The project follows successful Urby projects in neighboring Harrison and Jersey City, along with Staten Island and Stamford, Connecticut. According to the developers, the concept provides for a forward-thinking, people-focused alternative to the standard apartment building, with a theme that is unique to the host community but with a design and common spaces that radiate social energy.
For its part, L+M has found success in Newark by restoring and converting the historic Hahne & Co. and New Jersey Bell properties, both on Broad Street, to create new mixed-use destinations with apartments and commercial space. The firm developed both in partnership with Prudential Financial Inc. and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group.
The New York-based developer is also active in preserving and improving affordable housing in Newark’s outer wards. In 2019, L+M closed on financing to preserve and modernize 268 units of Section 8 housing at Zion Towers in the South Ward, allowing for immediate repairs on the severely neglected building and guaranteeing affordability for the next 30 years.
Additionally, it recently finished work on more than $9 million of capital improvements at Georgia King Village, a Section 8 complex in the West Ward, including included façade improvements, boiler plant replacement, extensive apartment renovations and other upgrades, the news release said. A second phase of improvements to the complex is nearing completion.