A rendering of a planned 2 million-square-foot redevelopment by SJP Properties and Aetna Realty. — Courtesy: SJP Properties/Aetna Realty
By Joshua Burd
SJP Properties and Aetna Realty have unveiled plans for a project in Newark that could deliver up to 2 million square feet of commercial and residential space at the city’s Broad Street station.
The firms on Monday announced a new joint venture tied to redeveloping the former Westinghouse Electric Co. factory at University Avenue and Orange Street. The 3.7-acre site, which is directly adjacent to the train station, could include office, retail, hotel and residential components that would be anchored by a large public plaza.
SJP is actively marketing the office space at the site and would expect to start construction upon securing an anchor tenant , which would have to start at around 200,000 to 250,000 square feet, a representative for the firm said. A design released Monday reflects about 1.1 million square feet of office space, but that is subject to change.
The announcement came with the backing of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who said creating so-called transit villages around both of the city’s train stations is a top priority.
“This strategy increases public transportation ridership, reduces automobile air pollution and creates more affordable housing and vital new neighborhoods,” Baraka said. “Redevelopment of the former Westinghouse site accomplishes these goals. It will accelerate the momentum underway with development around the Broad Street Station and be an important part of the smart development propelling Newark’s attraction as a national business hub.”
The developers expect the total project cost to be between $700 million and $1 billion.
SJP and Aetna have tapped the New York City office of Gensler to design the project, which they hope will feed off the station’s direct access to Midtown Manhattan and the city’s light rail system. The site also boasts proximity to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rutgers University and Newark’s extensive hospital network.
The developers say the project “has the potential to accelerate the North Broad Street District’s transformation into a tech and business corridor,” which is already anchored by companies as Audibe.com, IDT, Cablevision and Genova Burns.
For SJP, it would follow high-profile projects in the city such as the headquarters tower for Panasonic Corp. of North America and Prudential Financial’s new skyscraper just a few blocks south of the Westinghouse site. The firm partnered with Matrix Development Group for the Panasonic building, while acting as a third-party developer for Prudential.
“Under the leadership of Mayor Baraka, Newark has definitively established itself as a city on the rise, with a growing number of corporations realizing that Newark offers exceptional access to a highly skilled workforce, and accessibility via a robust public transit network and direct access to the I-280 corridor,” said Steven J. Pozycki, CEO of SJP Properties. “This redevelopment site presents a unique opportunity for companies looking to position themselves within the booming North Broad Street District, directly across the Midtown direct train line and among the numerous cultural, educational and retail opportunities that downtown Newark has to offer.”
Newark is also riding the momentum of projects such as the rehabilitation of the former Hahne & Co. department store on Broad Street, which is now a mixed-use complex anchored by Whole Foods, plus the high-profile Teachers Village redevelopment. Meantime, the city will soon welcome long-awaited residential projects at One Theater Square and One Rector Street.
Newark is also one of 20 finalists for Amazon’s coveted second headquarters, which the ecommerce giant said would bring up to 50,000 new jobs. In its pitch to Amazon and other companies, the city has touted everything from its access to talent and education to a vast web of underground fiber optic cable, which can produce the fastest internet in the country at affordable prices.
The developers also noted that companies that locate at the former Westinghouse site will be eligible for tax credit incentives under the state’s Grow New Jersey program and others.
“We have long recognized the redevelopment potential of the former Westinghouse site, and saw SJP Properties as the ideal partner to deliver a world-class development that will attract the right mix of high-quality tenants to this area of downtown Newark,” said David Braka of Aetna Realty. “This property’s exceptional transit-oriented location positions it as one of the best development opportunities in a city currently experiencing an unprecedented revitalization.”