A rendering of the redesigned façade and entryway at 1 Gateway Center, part of a sweeping overhaul of the landmark Gateway office complex in downtown Newark — Courtesy: Onyx Equities LLC
By Joshua Burd
The state’s commercial real estate sector renewed its support of the United Way of Northern New Jersey, raising more than $250,000 in a program that showcased plans to transform Newark’s flagship office complex, while recognizing a top broker with JLL.
The organization on Friday hosted its 21st annual Legacy Event, presenting its top honor to the team that is modernizing the four-building, 2.3 million-square-foot Gateway Center in New Jersey’s largest city. The team, led by Onyx Equities, received the United Way’s Legacy Impact Award for a project that will deliver refreshed common spaces, an upgraded concourse and new street-level retail space to help “deconstruct the fortress-like nature of the complex and bring it back into the community,” a company executive said.
The project will soon come to fruition, despite having launched in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
“With the world turned upside down, we decided to move forward with the original scope as planned,” said DJ Venn, an executive vice president with Onyx. “Fast-forward to June of 2021 and we’re four months from project completion, we recently signed a 100,000-square-foot lease with WebMD and our prospect list grows by the week as we pull out of the pandemic.”
The Legacy Event, which was held virtually, also presented Atlantic Health System with its Spotlight Impact Award in recognition of its service to community during the health crisis. Additionally, the organization honored longtime supporter and board member Tim Greiner, a broker and executive managing director with JLL, with its Spirit of Philanthropy Award.
The program raised $255,000 in the effort to help a group that the United Way describes as ALICE, which stands for asset-limited, income-constrained, employed individuals. That includes many of the essential workers who supported the general public throughout the pandemic, but struggled to afford basic bills.
“While the pandemic’s end seems to be in sight, for ALICE essential workers, the road to recovery will be a long one,” said George Xuereb, the United Way’s senior vice president of resource development. “Event proceeds will help United Way continue the critical work of ensuring ALICE households get on a path to financial stability and aren’t left behind during the post-pandemic recovery.”
The annual event is typically one of the year’s largest for the New Jersey commercial real estate sector. Since 2000, the industry has helped raise more than $3.4 million for the organization.
This year’s program also featured a conversation with Jose Lozano, CEO and president of Choose New Jersey, the state’s nonprofit economic development organization. During the discussion, Lozano shared his optimism for the state’s recovery post-pandemic while touting the critical role the Garden State has played over the last year.
“New Jersey really helped the world get out of the pandemic and come to the other side of it,” Lozano told moderator and United Way CEO Kiran Handa Gaudioso. “We have some 70 odd companies in New Jersey right now that in some way are part of this pandemic recovery in the life sciences.”
The Gateway team receiving the Legacy Impact Award includes Onyx Equities, JLL, Pierson Commercial, Gensler, The Rock Brook Consulting Group, Thornton Tomasetti LLC, Dynamic Engineering, Plaza Construction, McCarter & English LLP, Genova Burns LLC and Milrose Consultants.
The three other finalists for the Legacy Impact Award were the teams behind Celularity’s headquarters in Florham Park, Eisai Inc.’s new headquarters lease in Nutley and the mixed-use M Station project in Morristown.
Atlantic Health received the Spotlight Impact Award after a series of leases that brought specialty services, COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites to communities in Bridgewater, Clark and Paramus, according to the United Way. The winning team also included Anchor Health Properties, Kimco Realty Corp., GS Portfolio Holdings LLC, Colliers International, Schenck, Price, Smith & King LLP, Dancker, Staples, Francis Cauffman Architects, Buckl Architects, RSC Architects, MPE Consulting, Concord Engineering, O’Donnell & Naccarato, Reuther+Bowen, TriCon Construction Services & Management Corp. and Vericon Construction Co.
The two other finalists for the Spotlight Impact Award were Rockefeller Group’s Independence Way at The Green and Advance Realty Investors’ The Shops at Ledgewood Commons.