Question: Frank Giantomasi, “We heard your development project at Four Corners (the name given to Broad and Market, the center of the downtown district), is a seismic development with the Teachers Village development project creating a ripple in the ocean, so if four corners is like a tsunami, in terms of its impact in the downtown landscape. Tell the people about yourself and how long have you been here. You are somewhat of a mystery man when it comes to development here.”
Answer: Ron Beit: The market forecast data hasn’t caught up with the reality on the ground, the market statistics are behind the trends. What we see is a real estate market in transition, our organization, as a result began to assemble sufficient property holdings in the downtown. We looked at Broad and Market as the epic center of the downtown in Newark. Our first project was a project name Teachers Village with over 200 residential units for Newark-based teachers, which will include the districts public schools, charter schools, and Independent schools. When completed, it will include four schools that support 1,000 students from K 8th grade, and will feature new retail and amenities to the area.
Four Corners is an extension of the Teacher’s Village boundaries, extending the downtowns historic district center of the city. If you combine all the activity of other developers, at Four Corners will create a continuous retail experience in the downtown, which we believe in game changing.
Frank then introduces panelist Marc Berson, Chairman, The Fidelco Group.
Question: Frank Giantomasi, “Mr. Berson discussed some cutting edge activities that are coming to Newark. More specifically, what are you doing on the Northern sections of Broad Street corridor of downtown and how have you brought residents and retail development to Market Street which had not been seen in 60 years?”
Answer: Marc Berson: We have been developing in in Newark for over 20 years, and the progress being made is partnerships between not-for-profits, governments (local, county, and state) and clearly the private sector. In many ways the initial trust came from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), which has been a catalyst for economic development. The initial trust brought Philanthropy Corporation together in New Jersey to a place I believe made the development possible.
When you look at the Northern Sector of downtown, around 1 Washington St, and the surrounding area. You had some development at the (Bear’s/Eagle’s) stadium, partially working at that time a fully occupied office building owned and operated by IDT. Then activities began moving in the wrong direction. Building such as 494 Broad Street, 1 Washington Park were vacant buildings, the IDT building became vacant, no development plans with 499 Broad Street operated by the Newark housing authority, and 33 Washington Street had reduce government tenants and increase vacancies.
So we saw 1 Washington Park was a way to change the trends with a private public partnership. We partnered with the public sector Rutgers University, and created the only condominium in Rutgers real estate portfolio. They own their business school and we own the balanced of the building. We were fortunate to land a tenants name Audible.com, that has made a large difference in our vacancies, as their business has grown, so has need for more space, with it current ownership now being amazon, it has grown and will occupy two floors in 1 Washington. We brought 494 Broad, and placed a call to the law firm Angelo Genova and encouraged them to consider to move back to Newark and the rest is history the law firm is back in Newark, and 494 is fully occupied, Now we are in construction with adjacent 1 acre parcel, which will include 650 car garaged, 75,000 sq./ft. commercial space for Cablevision, which will employ 700 people, with 24/7 operation.
I believe that there are two major players which has greatly enhance development in the Northern section of the downtown. One is Rutgers, not to take away from the other higher educational institution, but Rutgers is on Broad Street, has properties on University and Washington Street, with a new chancellor with expertise in redevelopment. The other major institution is the healthcare industry. It has a very prominent and presence in Newark, and there are discussions going on in Trenton, as you might be aware St. Barnabas is managing the University Hospital, and the questions being considered at the governor’s office is. What is the future of healthcare in Newark? If I can be a prognosticator, I would suggest it is time for a new institution in the city of Newark that bring together research, education and health care.
In our Market street development, we brought Dinosaur Barbecue in a retail tenant, we didn’t give them much support of all the buildings being completed at the same time, but their business is growing and successful. In the near future, we will have Chipotle Mexican Grill, and a very high-end pizzeria, and burger place. In terms of Apartments, we have over 200 individuals on the waiting list, and apartments will be online in the next several weeks.
The experts all agreed that demand for residential real estate in the city of Newark was growing. They also agreed that the market going forward will support market rate housing. Within 3 to 5 years the statistic will catch up with the reality on the ground. With the cities support thru grant incentives like payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT), the momentum will continues to attract development transforming downtown Newark into the 24/7 active place where people, work, play and live.