In January 2017, we broke the news that the Newark Warehouse Company Building, also known as the Central Graphic Arts Building, was slated to undergo a major transformation into offices and retail space. Designed by John Ferguson, the historic seven-story structure at 110 Edison Place dates back to 1907 and was used over the years by corporations like Iron Mountain and the Central Paper Company. The Central Railroad of New Jersey (CRRNJ) even ran trains into the massive complex.
Now, over a year and a half after the plans for the edifice were first revealed, the Newark Warehouse Company Building is in the midst of its adaptive reuse into the Ironside Newark mixed-use development. Earlier this month, Jersey Digs took a hard hat tour of the site, where construction workers are in the process of developing the office suites, the public two-story atrium and seating area, the 74,967 square feet of retail space, and the rooftop patio for tenants that overlooks Northern New Jersey and Manhattan.
Ironside Newark is expected to be finished by the end of 2018, according to Michael Sommer of Edison Properties, which owns the building. Unlike most projects that are underway in Newark, this 456,059-square-foot development does not include a residential component.
“Given the historic nature of the building and the prior uses in the building, we quickly recognized that the bones were irreplaceable and therefore repurposing it for its intended use as loft-style office with street-level retail would be a great second life if you will for the building,” Sommer explained, adding that “we’re seeing a tremendous amount of velocity on both fronts.”
Although he could not reveal other Ironside tenants yet, what is known is that the development will eventually house the offices of Mars Wrigley Confectionery. The company intends to split its American headquarters between Ironside and the Warren County factory where it manufactures M&M’S, the candy that was first produced in Newark’s South Ward in 1941. In addition, Edison Properties will move its own headquarters from Washington Street to Ironside, according to Sommer.
“We took great pains to ensure that we retained the character of the building and the historic nature of the building while also creating what I would consider to be a modern office building for today’s workspace,” he explained.
The complex’s stacking plan shows that the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors have already been leased, while a large portion of the third-floor office space and the second-floor retail space are listed as “out for lease.” Co-working suites were expected to take up 2.5 floors of the building, according to project architect Perkins Eastman, but those plans have since been modified. Several of the office suites will include balconies and there will be retail space not only on the Edison Place side of the building but also directly facing the upcoming Mulberry Commons park and the development’s atrium, which will be open daily.
Through an anonymous LLC, Edison Properties acquired the building for $7 million back in 2014, according to property records. The corporation has been operating in Newark for over 60 years and is even named for the street that the property is situated on.
“Initially we decided that we’d get started with the adaptive reuse of the Newark Warehouse, now known as Ironside Newark, because the concept of leaving a vacant hulking warehouse looming over this new beautiful park that the city is developing would not have made much sense at all,” said Sommer.
This project marks a major change for Edison Properties since for much of its past in New Jersey’s largest city, the owner of ParkFast was known for tearing buildings down throughout the central business district and the Ironbound in order to make way for private parking lots. Some of the demolished structures were considered to be historic because of their locations in the James Street Commons and Military Park Commons neighborhoods, but are no longer standing.
When asked about why Edison Properties made the move to preserve the Newark Warehouse Company site amid its history of replacing structures in Newark with parking lots, Sommer stated that “in addition to the fact that of course the economy continues to cooperate with us and the fact that we recognized a void in the supply in the market for the type of product that we’re creating, I would say that the leadership in the city is really the major differentiator.”
Sommer credited Mayor Ras Baraka and stated that Edison Properties’ “confidence and our working relationship with him, with his administration, with the city council, and with the CEDC [Newark Community Economic Development Corporation] is really what pushed us to the point that we were ready to put a shovel in the ground.”
Meanwhile, after being in the works for well over a decade, construction is also underway on Mulberry Commons, the City of Newark’s new three-acre public area that was previously referred to as Triangle Park. Aisha Glover of the CEDC told Jersey Digs that work on the premises is expected to be completed by late fall.
The park, which will be split in half by an upcoming extension of Columbia Street, is replacing a private parking lot where CRRNJ train tracks between the Lafayette Street Terminal and Jersey City once ran. The site also once contained Newark’s Chinatown neighborhood and is where the Mulberry Arcade once stood.
Eventually, the CRRNJ trestle over the southern part of Newark Penn Station, which sits adjacent to the Mulberry Commons site, is expected to be restored and converted into a pedestrian bridge. It will allow park visitors to travel between the station’s platforms, the Ironbound, Mulberry Commons, and the Prudential Center.
The changes in this part of the city are far from over. With multiple developments proposed in the neighborhood including a 35-story tower by Boraie Development and Shaquille O’Neal across the street from Ironside and long-term plans to develop several parking lots near Mulberry Commons, Downtown Newark is continuing to evolve.