Jersey Digs has learned that a Westchester developer that has become increasingly involved in Newark real estate is behind the plans for another major adaptive reuse project in the city.
Back in March, we revealed that the 18-story high-rise building at 155 Washington Street in Downtown Newark was expected to be rehabilitated and converted into a mixed-use complex with residential, retail, and educational space. The massive and unique structure, which is owned by Rutgers University, dates back to 1930 and might have been used in part as a parking garage at one point.
When the proposal was first revealed, all that was known about the developer was that they were using an LLC called 155 Washington Street Urban Renewal in order to receive approvals from the Newark Central Planning Board. Now, records from the Newark Legislative Research Center show that the LLC is based out of L+M Development Partners’ Larchmont, New York offices and that a financial agreement is in the works for the project.
The existing 220,000-square-foot building is expected to be converted into 220 “market rate” residential units along with up to 6,000 square feet of retail space. The building is also expected to include 4,000 square feet of institutional space for Rutgers University-Newark, according to city records. The university would continue to own the building, though L+M’s LLC would lease the premises.
In addition to the adaptive reuse component of the $73 million project, a new residential building is planned for the site of a surface parking lot on the property just south of the university’s Center for Law and Justice. The proposed 30,000-square-foot building would include up to 29 “market rate” rental units.
State records show that last week, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ Local Finance Board, was scheduled to hear an application for $1.25 million in proposed redevelopment area bonds in connection with the project. Plus, during its meeting this Wednesday, December 19, the Newark Municipal Council is expected to vote on an ordinance that would approve a financial agreement granting the LLC a 25- to 30-year abatement on improvement taxes. The company would be required to pay an annual service charge.
The ordinance claims that “the financial agreement is to the direct benefit of the health, welfare and financial well-being of the City,” adding “without the tax exemption…it is highly unlikely that the project would otherwise be undertaken.”
The project is expected to create 100 construction jobs. Four permanent jobs would remain after the development is finished.
L+M was the developer of the adaptive reuse and residential expansion of the Hahne & Company building on Broad Street and is in the process of converting the old New Jersey Bell headquarters building into a development that is being referred to as Walker House. The company, which owns Zion Towers and Georgia King Village, is also involved in a proposed mixed-use complex with Prudential at the site of the 31 Central arts community. Back in June, artists who work in the space were given a letter from Cushman & Wakefield stating that demolition of the building was expected to start no later than December 31.
Last year, when Newark reached out to Amazon in hopes of attracting HQ2, a letter from L+M’s Jonathan Cortell was included in the application. In the letter, Cortell mentioned that “we have a pipeline of projects to be delivered over the next three years that will provide no less than 600 units in the downtown alone.”
L+M’s apparent partner in the 155 Washington Street project, Rutgers University-Newark, has also been increasingly involved in Newark development over the last several years. In addition to the Hahne & Company adaptive reuse, the university turned a former office building at 15 Washington Street into student housing and is in the process of constructing the Honors Living-Learning Community complex between Washington and Halsey Streets.