A rendering of the revamped lobby at Gateway Four in Newark, where Onyx Equities LLC is planning a sweeping overhaul and expansion — Courtesy: Onyx/Gensler
By Joshua Burd
One of the state’s largest law firms has extended its nearly 120,000-square-foot lease at Newark’s Gateway complex, whose ownership is planning a sweeping upgrade and expansion.
Onyx Equities LLC, which leads the joint venture ownership, announced Tuesday that McCarter & English LLP has signed a 10-year extension on its 117,300-square-foot space at Gateway Four in Newark. The historic law firm has been a tenant at the property for more than 30 years and is the latest tenant to recommit since Onyx and its partners acquired Gateway One, Two and Four last year, setting out to modernize the complex.
Onyx announced the deal alongside another large lease, a 96,870-square-foot commitment in Jericho, New York with 1-800-Flowers. The flower and gift distributor is relocating from Carle Place, also in Nassau County, while expanding by 20 percent.
“We’re seeing many of our tenants, including two nationally known companies exhibit faith in the long-term strength of the economy,” said John Saraceno Jr., an Onyx co-founder and managing principal. “Our acquisition strategy is based on our confidence that the most desirable properties will always outperform and that esteemed companies want to be associated with premier management. It is gratifying that the repositioning of these assets continues to resonate with the market.”
In a news release, McCarter said it began to explore its options as its lease was nearing its termination. The firm worked with brokers from Newmark Knight Frank on a “comprehensive regional search to determine if we needed a new home” for its more than 400 Newark-based employees.
“The information learned, and the feedback from our employees, clearly established that Newark worked best for us, and staying at Gateway Four was the right decision,” said Joseph Lubertazzi Jr., McCarter’s chairman. “In addition to the ease of arriving in Newark by car and mass transit, there is easy access to the airport, Newark Penn Station for travel outside of the City, and the courts. Besides amenities already in place, the new owners of Gateway Four have shared with us its plans for even more improvements to the complex.
“With the excitement of Newark and new ownership of the Gateway complex, we have enthusiastically reaffirmed our commitment to Gateway 4 and Newark until the year 2034 by signing a new lease.”
The landlord hailed the activity as a sign of strength for its 6.5 million-square-foot portfolio, noting that the deals took place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The leases bring Onyx’s leasing tally in March and April to 320,000 square feet.
At the Gateway complex in Newark, Onyx is partnered with Garrison Investment Group LP, Taconic Capital Advisors LP and Axonic Capital LLC, with co-investment partner Prudential Financial Inc. Its plans at Gateway include adding new public spaces, retail and dining options that will transform its busy commuter concourse and the surrounding streets, along with new lobbies and a modernized infrastructure.
“We applaud McCarter & English on their commitment to remain in Newark for the next decade,” said Aisha Glover, CEO of the Newark Alliance, a nonprofit that is dedicated to the city’s ongoing economic revitalization. “As an active member of the Alliance, an important tenant in Gateway, and a true corporate partner for the City of Newark, we look forward to their continued growth and investment in Newark and applaud their commitment during this time of uncertainty.”
Onyx also announced Tuesday that it has partnered with Russo Development to launch Quiet Help, a 501(c)(3) fund to assist employees of its vendors and retail tenants that have been furloughed or laid off due to the coronavirus crisis. The fund was seeded with $400,000 with the hope to identify 50 to 100 recipients who would receive $500 to $2,000 per month for the next six to 12 months.
“The teams of Onyx and Russo recognize how fortunate and blessed we are and how many people in our industry are suffering in this unprecedented time of economic distress,” Saraceno said.