The rooftop terrace at Walker House in Newark — Courtesy: L+M Development Partners
By Joshua Burd
A development group has nearly completed its restoration of a landmark tower in downtown Newark, where it will soon debut 265 apartments and a mix of new commercial space.
The team — led by L+M Development Partners, Prudential Financial Inc. and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group — has launched leasing at the 21-story building at 540 Broad St. Long known as the New Jersey Bell building, the newly rebranded Walker House is now the latest new residential building to open in the central business district.
Walker House has launched with 211 market-rate units available for lease, including studios through three-bedrooms starting at $1,875.
“It has been a privilege to restore another piece of Newark’s history while contributing new elements that add to a dynamic downtown,” said Jon Cortell, vice president for development at L+M Development Partners. “Residents of Walker House will enjoy modern amenities, gorgeous views and a prime location, all with unique flourishes designed by timeless architect Ralph Walker.”
The restoration of the Art Deco tower is the latest project in the city by L+M, Prudential and Goldman Sachs, which worked in partnership with Citi Community Capital. The developers in 2017 reopened the historic Hahne & Co. building just a few blocks away at 609 Broad St., converting the once-iconic department store into a mixed-use complex with apartments, an arts and cultural center and commercial space anchored by the city’s first Whole Foods Market.
At Walker House, the team has renovated the property’s soaring lobby and brick-and-sandstone exterior, both of which were added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Its apartments include high-end interiors and appliances, while the building offers amenities such as a modern fitness center and yoga studio, a library lounge and private catering kitchen.
The tower also has a rooftop terrace with outdoor seating and dining, a fire pit and grill areas.
The Marketing Directors is spearheading the marketing and leasing for Walker House’s market-rate units, touting a location that is steps away from mass transit, parks and cultural institutions. The property also has 54 affordable units that were leased last fall through a lottery administered by the building’s management company, C+C Management.
Walker House also includes office space, which is now home to a nationally renowned tech training nonprofit known as Per Scholas.
“Collaborating closely with our public and private partners, Prudential has brought patient and creative capital to develop solutions that are turning downtown Newark into a vibrant, thriving hub,” said Reuben Teague, vice president of impact investing at Prudential. “We already see the physical redevelopment of the Walker House creating catalytic opportunities for mixed income housing, high-quality retail, and spaces for organizations like our partner Per Scholas, which is providing free IT job training.”
Inglese Architecture & Engineering served as project architect on the repositioning of Walker House, according to a news release. CetraRuddy, a New York-City based architecture, planning and interior design firm, provided design support and brought its experience with other conversions of Ralph Walker buildings.
The project received tax-exempt bond financing from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, plus support from the city of Newark, the news release said. Additional financing was supported by National Trust Community Investment Corp. and New Jersey Community Capital.
“As long-time believers and investors in Newark, we are excited for the next chapter in the city’s economic revitalization to begin with the rebirth of this historic building,” said Margaret Anadu, managing director and head of the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. “As downtown Newark continues to provide increased opportunities for families and businesses alike to grow, we are proud to invest in Walker House, bringing needed mixed-income housing and quality office space, both necessities for the city’s long-term vitality.”
The building’s retail portion will house a brewery and rock climbing gym.
“In a city with immense architectural history, the restoration and adaptive reuse of the former New Jersey Bell Telephone Building represents a continued celebration of Newark and its revival,” said Alex Merlucci, associate partner at Inglese Architecture + Engineering. “As a defining building in Newark’s skyline, Walker House signals new opportunities for students, professionals, families, and businesses in one of the United States’ oldest cities and further solidifies Newark as a destination for all.”