Could Newark’s Historic Griffith Building Finally be Restored?

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Griffith Building 605 607 Broad Street New Proposal Newark 1
Adaptive reuse proposed for the Griffith Building, 605-607 Broad Street, Newark. Photo via Google Maps/Street View.

For decades, the Griffith Building has sat vacant across from Military Park in Downtown Newark amid multiple proposals to restore the historic edifice. Newspaper articles from throughout the last four decades are filled with mentions of adaptive reuse proposals for the structure, which is located at 605-607 Broad Street. In 2016, for example, 55 apartments with an auditorium or co-working space were planned, while a hotel concept was announced in 2013 and 223 units were proposed in 2003. In the 1980s, The New York Times even featured two stories about plans by developers to restore the building into corporate offices for groups like Security National Bank.

Now, after generations of abandonment, could the Griffith Building finally be utilized again? A new application to adaptively reuse the structure has been submitted to the Newark Central Planning Board by a firm called 605 Broad St., LLC, according to a legal notice.

Although few details have been released yet, the plans call for commercial space on the bottom two floors with residential units on the upper levels. In addition to Preliminary and Final Site Plan approval, the company is seeking variances for insufficient loading space, insufficient street trees, and insufficient lot width.

The proposal was initially slated to be heard at City Hall on August 20, but the matter has been adjourned to the board’s next meeting on Monday, September 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Once home to the Griffith Piano Company and the Griffith Music Foundation, the building included offices, a showroom, and a recital hall. To this day, the word “Griffith” can still be found prominently on the facade, though the site is in less than stellar condition. Built in 1927, it sits adjacent to the Hahne & Company Building, another historic property that was recently rehabilitated after sitting abandoned for decades.

Griffith Building 605 607 Broad Street New Proposal Newark
The Griffith Building, 605-607 Broad Street, Newark. Photo via Google Maps/Street View.

Previously, the Newark-based Berger Organization, which owns the Robert Treat Hotel and was responsible for both the conversion of the Carlton Hotel on nearby East Park Place into the TRYP by Wyndham hotel and the unsuccessful proposal for a casino hotel near Riverfront Stadium, owned the Griffith Building and was planning to restore it. However, those plans never came to fruition and the new developer bought the site in April for $6.4 million.

The mysterious LLC that now owns the Griffith Building is registered out of an office in Ramsey, Bergen County. Over the last year, LLCs based out of the same address in Ramsey have been buying up properties all over Newark and proposing major adaptive reuse and built-from-scratch projects, including high-rise buildings on Springfield and South Orange Avenues.

It is not immediately clear if any affordable units are expected to be included in this redevelopment, nor is it known how many apartments will be included inside the project. Through their attorney at Murphy Partners, the developer declined an interview request. Jersey Digs has filed a public records request with the City of Newark in order to obtain additional information about the plans for the property and will report what we learn once new details are released.

This would not be the first adaptive reuse of this type in Downtown Newark. Eleven80 involved the conversion of the Newark Lefcourt Building into a residential project and the creation of the 15 Washington Street Apartments involved turning the old American Insurance Company headquarters into housing for Rutgers University-Newark students. However, should the renovation of the Griffith Building actually be completed, it would mark the completion of a goal that some have had for generations.

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12 COMMENTS

    • Really? Whats getting pushed out? Mold? Dust?

      Typical ghetto lobby BS.
      For decades you hated being “stuck” in Newark.

      All you wanted is out.
      You destroyed the city with apathy ,neglect, arson.

      Now A SUPERIOR people see the value of what you called garbage for decades.

      Now you complain about gentrification!

  1. Mysterious llc. Why is it mysterious. I know why you guys feel its mysterious. Its because you guys feel this company is going to take control and oust the blacks that live and cant afford the rent for future upcoming city turnaround.

  2. No one is being displaced, it’s a vacant building. All of the development in progress or planned is on vacant land or in buildings that have been vacant for years. Again, no one is being displaced. Newark needs some middle income residents, it can not survive being a haven for the poor and disenfranchised.

  3. When you rehab a vacant shell building it’s not called displacement of black folks , it’s called upgrading the neighborhood or upgrading the hood. I love that folks still have faith in Newark and it’s people , my heart aches when I drive down Newark and I see block after block that is desolate and or crumbling buildings that are home to drug users and pushers . We black folks should encourage investors and I don’t care if it’s a white man pink man green man or dark man who invests in a visible that Newark is gonna be great again . Thank you

    • Well said! I work in downtown Newark, I’m Black and I wouldn’t live there right now, but in the future (3-5 years, if the current pace of development continue.)

      • I’m not a broker and have no financial interest in downtown but I encourage you to look at the units currently on offer in downtown Newark, i.e. the apartments at 1180, the Hahne’s Building, One Theater Square, the smaller buildings like Rock Plaza and some of the other developments coming online in the next year. Call me foolish maybe but I’ve lived here for over a year, and I walk all around downtown and in the University Heights neighborhood after 11 pm without an issue.

  4. Yeah CHECK THE PRICES of those place if you dont make 100k or more you have no CHANCE of getting any of those units and how many ppl that grew up in NEWARK make 100K. The people moving INTO NEWARK and taking the affordable housing away is YES going to clean up Newark but going to DESTROY tons of families that don’t have anything and are told they have to leave their building because it was sold oh and here’s 3,000 to help you move AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. I have read a few articles about this type of situation and the number of $$$ that is offered to these families to relocate is about 10 percent of what it should be. If your paying 1000 a month in a rent stabilized building and have to move its virtually impossible to find anything near what you were paying unless you go WEST into the woods!

  5. Why didn’t you buy when the city was literally giving properties away? I don’t get it, getting upset now that people are coming in and improving properties and attracting people with jobs who will support Newark businesses and expand the tax base? I have lived and owned in Newark for 20 years and am encouraged by the investment in the city and am honestly confused by the anti-investment messages. Only a couple years ago the city couldn’t afford its police force and was/is broke, no one was living downtown and the buildings and streets were vacant after dark.

  6. The buildings in NEWARK are NEVER vacant after DARK lol ITS THE OPPOSITE! Streets are FULL after the sun goes down you just must not go outside after 9 pm. Even the Nice Areas of Newark are dangerous. And i would have bought up everything but wasn’t born yet.

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