A group of area residents and a West Coast architecture firm are hoping that Amazon picks Newark as the site of its second headquarters and have even come up with a full proposal for where the company should locate in the city. However, should the Seattle-based internet retailer select New Jersey’s largest city, whether or not the plans by these partners would actually be realized remains up in the air.
Led by Jim Bardia and Joel Levin, the group, which goes by Fifth Avenue North Partners, is proposing a massive energy-efficient headquarters complex near Interstate 280 that would span both sides of Broad Street. Designed by California-based Heller Manus Architects, which also designed some of San Francisco’s tallest high-rises, the concept calls for a 60-story tower at the old Westinghouse site just south of the Newark Broad Street station and a 55-story tower at the site of the Newark Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium.
The towers would be the tallest in the city and the complex would potentially include additional smaller buildings, a hotel, apartments, and plenty of retail space. The proposal, which has been in the works for nine months, also calls for bike paths, moving sidewalks, solar panels, green roofs, and ferry service on the Passaic River across McCarter Highway from the stadium site. Close to six million square feet of office space would be provided on the premises under Fifth Avenue North’s plan.
However, the properties where the complex would be built are not under Fifth Avenue North’s ownership, nor was this new proposal included in Newark’s formal application to Amazon back in 2017. In fact, most of the lots in question are already the sites of proposed developments, though construction has yet to begin on any of them.
Lotus Equity Group, which bought the baseball stadium from Essex County, is planning the Riverfront Square project on both the former Newark Bears property and the old Lincoln Motel site. The complex is expected to consist of a hotel, a public plaza, apartments, and multiple office buildings. Meanwhile, plans recently resurfaced to construct a high-rise office building at the Westinghouse site, which has sat vacant for close to a decade.
Levin confirmed to Jersey Digs that this plan is only conceptual and that there has not been a formal agreement with the property owners or the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (NCEDC), the latter of which submitted the application to Amazon and launched the “Yes Newark” campaign. However, after meeting with many of the key stakeholders, he is hoping that this proposal will be placed under consideration.
Newark’s application to Amazon, which led to the city being selected as one of the top 20 finalists in North America, did offer the Riverfront Square site to the company as a possible HQ2 location. Other suggested sites included the Matrix properties farther south along the Passaic River, the undeveloped lots surrounding the upcoming Mulberry Commons park, the RBH Group’s SoMa (south of Market Street) properties, and existing office buildings in the Central Business District.
A request for comment from the NCEDC regarding Fifth Avenue North’s proposal was not immediately returned.