For a project as massive as the proposed redevelopment of an 18-story high-rise along with the construction of a brand new apartment building in the heart of Newark, one would think that the public university that owns the property and the developer would be willing to provide current information about the plans. However, officials with Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) and L+M Development Partners are not publicly saying much right now about the changes that are in store for 155 Washington Street. Now, Jersey Digs has exclusively obtained additional details regarding the proposal.
We broke the news about the plan to bring over 200 apartments, retail space, and institutional uses to the former parking garage roughly a year ago before the proposal was scheduled to go before the Newark Central Planning Board. Yet, RU-N has yet to issue a press release specifically regarding this project and the redevelopment is not included on L+M’s website. There are barely even any mentions of this major initiative on the Rutgers website aside from one line in a press release about a different campaign, a copy of our article about another RU-N development, and an agenda item from a Rutgers Board of Governors meeting.
Then, in December, the Newark Municipal Council approved a financial agreement and tax abatement for the development that revealed that this project is being undertaken in conjunction with L+M, the same Larchmont, New York-based company behind Walker House, the Hahne & Co. redevelopment, and the project at the 31 Central site. The agreement also showed that the 155 Washington redevelopment is expected to cost $73 million and that even though 155 Washington Street Urban Renewal, LLC will lease the premises, Rutgers will continue to own the property. The roughly 220 units in the building, along with the 29 that would be constructed in a new adjacent four-story structure, were described as “market rate.”
In response to our recent questions such as how the apartments could be priced and when construction could begin on the premises, RU-N spokesperson Peter Englot stated that although the university “will be happy to provide the kind of information you seek later in the development process…at this time it would be premature to provide the kinds of details that you request, as the project continues to be refined.”
However, although work is not yet underway at the site, the project is far from being in its preliminary stages, since it has already passed the planning approvals and tax abatement processes. While the university might not want to answer our questions about the project right now, no shortage of information has been provided over the last year and a half to Newark’s municipal government regarding what exactly is coming to 155 Washington Street.
Documents obtained by Jersey Digs from City Hall show that part of the existing two-story structure that surrounds the high-rise is expected to be demolished. Additionally, between the existing building and the new four-story development along Washington Street, “a pedestrian mews” with art installations will be installed in order to “provide landscaping and amenity space.” The Newark Central Planning Board’s memorialization resolution from March 2018 also stated that the complex’s 4,000-square-foot institutional space will be occupied by the RU-N admissions office and that 33 parking spaces are planned for the site. The board required that electric vehicle charging stations be included in the plans.
A March 2018 letter sent to Newark’s Planning and Zoning office by Langan Engineering & Environmental Services said in part that “residents of the proposed building will also use available public and private parking resources in the surrounding area” and that “it was determined that the redevelopment of 155 Washington will not significantly alter traffic operations on adjacent roadways during peak traffic hours as compared to the existing properties [sic] prior use.”
The apartments are slated to be a mixture of studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units, with studios making up nearly half of the apartments in the existing building. There will be apartments on the upper 17 floors of the building. No studios would be included in the new structure. Terraces, a lobby, a bike room, “amenity space,” storage space for tenants, and retail space are also in the works for the 18-story building, which will largely be “clad in brick veneer, with metal panel, fiberglass cornice, and other accent pieces on the storefronts and where appropriate,” according to the resolution.
Another document that we received shows that 155 Washington Street Urban Renewal, LLC was formed and approved by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs back in June of 2017. While state paperwork shows that 20 percent of the firm is owned by another LLC called 155 Washington Managers that is based out of L+M’s Westchester offices, Newark-based Prudential’s Prudential Impact Investments Private Equity, LLC owned 80 percent of the firm when it was registered. The disclosure of ownership form also noted that “additional entities may be admitted post-construction financing closing including one owned by Goldman Sachs or an affiliate and Inglese Architecture and Engineering or an affiliate thereof.”
Prudential has worked with L+M and Goldman Sachs on some of the development company’s other projects in Newark, including Hahne & Co. and Walker House. Another LLC owned by Prudential is the registered owner of the site of L+M’s upcoming 31 Central development.
It is not clear what, if anything, has changed about the proposal in the time since the planning application and the financial agreement were approved. Under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, Jersey Digs has requested copies of additional project documents from Rutgers and will let you know as new information is revealed about the plans.