SJP Properties and Scotto Properties joined Valley Bank executives, local officials and others for a groundbreaking ceremony for the lender’s new 120,000-square-foot headquarters on Speedwell Avenue in Morristown. — Courtesy: Valley Bank
By Joshua Burd
Construction is underway on Valley Bank’s future headquarters in Morristown, where it will lease 120,000 square feet of new office space built by SJP Properties and Scotto Properties.
The developers on Thursday joined bank executives, local officials and members of the project team to break ground on the downtown building, which will soon rise on Speedwell Avenue across from the Hyatt Regency Morristown. The lender, currently based in Wayne, is slated to move to the property by next spring, providing a new home for around 660 corporate employees as well as a new training center and retail space.
“Valley is truly an international organization today, but at our roots, at our hearts, we are a community bank,” Valley National Bancorp CEO Ira Robbins said. “Our soul is the communities we operate in, our soul is the ability to connect with the constituents that live in the communities. Our ability to connect with Morristown and what it’s going to provide for our employees is second to none, and that’s why we’re here today.”
Robbins, who was named CEO in 2017, said the bank has hired some 1,200 employees since that time and now has a headcount of more than 3,800. He expects that growth to continue, projecting the addition of another 1,200 to 1,500 employees in the next three to five years.
“Every single one of those will likely flow through Morristown at some point as we have our training center and headquarters here, so it will be a massive amount of people that come into this facility,” he said. “If you think about what that culture is from an organization perspective, that was one of the reasons we wanted to have a state-of-the-art office building to really help define what our culture is, what innovation is, what the community looks like.”
Newmark Vice Chairman David Simson represented Valley in the deal, which will expand Morristown’s roster of large corporate tenants. The new building will be about a 10-minute walk from SJP and Scotto’s M Station project, a new ground-up, 373,000-square-foot office and retail complex along Morris Street, where Deloitte LLP will occupy 110,000 square feet starting this summer.
Similarly, Deloitte is relocating from a suburban location with an eye toward its workforce.
“This is incredibly exciting and timely,” said Steve Pozycki, SJP’s founder and CEO, who pointed to the changing office market even before the upheaval caused by COVID-19. Other firm executives pointed to the ripple effect of M Station, in a town that has seen an infusion of new apartments over the past decade but is known for its lack of new high-end office space, despite its desirable location.
“There’s no question that the visibility that M Station brought to Morristown and Deloitte anchoring that project created a lot of momentum,” said Alex Erdos, SJP’s senior vice president for leasing and marketing. “And I think people were able to visualize it and see that momentum, and it showed what the vision could be on Speedwell Avenue as well.”
Designed in tandem with Gensler, Valley Bank’s new headquarters will have a balance of glass, metal and warm brick tones that embraces the character of the neighborhood, according to a past project description. Other design elements include floor-to-ceiling windows, abundant natural light and skyline views, along with operable glass walls that open to three outdoor terraces and a ground-floor lobby entrance with soaring ceilings.
The building, which will replace a string of vacant structures on five lots, will also have 14,500 square feet of available retail space, a portion of which is slated to include a new Valley retail banking branch. Employees will be a short walk from Morristown’s vast selection of shops, restaurants and cultural experiences and minutes from NJ Transit’s Midtown Direct line to New York Penn Station, among other mass transit options.
The groundbreaking comes a week after the United Way of Northern New Jersey bestowed its Commercial Impact Award on the project and a team that also includes Walsh Co., Barr & Barr, Sills Cummis & Gross PC, Thornton Tomasetti, AMA Group, Stonefield Engineering and Design, Syska Hennessy Group and Cerami & Associates Inc. Many of those firms were on hand Thursday to celebrate the milestone.
Also in attendance was Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, who recognized the town council and other local officials for supporting continued investment in the municipality.
“The future is so bright for our workers and our base of young people that have moved here,” Dougherty said, later adding: “People may say that it’s a tough world we’re living in, the economy is crazy, New Jersey is a tough state, but you know what? We’re doing it here in Morristown and we’re grateful for the investment that we’re getting. And it’s not going to go without notice, so on behalf of the town of Morristown, thank you for your investment in our community.”