More than a year after we first revealed that there were plans to bring major changes to a property in Downtown Newark, Jersey Digs has learned new information about the $73 million transformation that is in the works for 155 Washington Street.
The 18-story building on the Rutgers University-owned property, which was once used as a parking garage, is expected to be adaptively reused by Larchmont, New York-based L+M Development Partners and Newark-based Prudential Financial’s 155 Washington Street Urban Renewal, LLC into a development with between 220 and 225 market-rate residential units, institutional space, and retail space. There are also plans for a new four-story building on the premises with 29 units. Now, under a request that we filed with the public university under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA), copies of the site plans and renderings, along with the ground lease signed by Rutgers and the LLC, have been released.
The renderings, designed by Inglese Architecture + Engineering as part of the developer’s application for Preliminary and Final Site Plan approval, illustrate that the 18-story portion of the 255,616-square-foot project is expected to look vastly different from how the existing building on the premises currently appears, with new windows and an outdoor deck surrounding much of the structure. Rutgers redacted 25 pages of the 37-page proposal that we received, telling Jersey Digs that this was done “to remove information including the building plans and specs which the university does not release due to security concerns pursuant to the security exemption under OPRA.”
Meanwhile, the initial term of the lease is expected to last for 50 years. The LLC was expected to pay Rutgers an initial fee of $225,000 upon the closing of a construction loan, while work on the property was expected to be substantially completed within two years after the date of the closing. The annual rent is expected to start at $225,000 and increase by two percent each year, according to the lease, which was signed by Rutgers University Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration J. Michael Gower and L+M Vice President Jonathan Cortell.
The deal between Rutgers and the LLC bans religious institutions from the building along with businesses such as nightclubs, “salvation army type” stores, “deep discount” businesses like dollar stores, and medical marijuana dispensaries. The lease also mentions that a 4,000-square-foot admissions office and campus welcome center is expected to be situated along Warren Street on the building’s first floor.
Additional documents that we obtained earlier this year from the City of Newark show that plans for the project date back as early as June 2017, when the LLC’s formation was approved by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. The plans that we received from City Hall also mentioned that Goldman Sachs might become involved in the project. The development proposal was approved by the Newark Central Planning Board in March 2018 while the Newark Municipal Council approved a financial agreement and tax abatement with the LLC in December 2018.
Earlier this spring, since there are barely any mentions of this development on the Rutgers website and there is no mention of it on L+M’s website despite the project being far from its preliminary stages, Jersey Digs requested a rendering and additional information regarding the plans from Rutgers-Newark spokesperson Peter Englot. However, 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.”
As part of our recent OPRA request with Rutgers, Jersey Digs sought the most recent site plans and renderings for the project. All of the documents that were provided are from 2018 and it is unclear how, or if, the project has been refined in the time since.