A Look at the Six Newark Sites that Make Up New Jersey's Amazon HQ2 Pitch
Proposal Includes Mix of Existing, Planned Developments
Newark, NJ's pitch to land Amazon's HQ2, made public by the city this week, includes a mix of existing and planned downtown properties, all clustered near each other, for consideration by the e-commerce giant.
In the 200-page proposal, which was posted online in response to an Open Public Records Act request, the city's proposal said that, "It offers a portfolio of development opportunities encompassing six distinct sites in downtown with a range of settings, building formats and properties."
Newark is one of 20 finalist cities that Amazon is considering for its second headquarters site. The state of New Jersey and the city have offered the Jeff Bezos-led company $7 billion in tax incentives to come to the Garden State.
In an overview in its proposal, Newark laid out three phases for accommodating the tech firm's second headquarters. For phase one, the city said approximately 2.2 million square feet of space is available right away for Amazon, consisting of 600,000 square feet in existing buildings by Washington Park, 655,000 square feet at Gateway Center, and 1 million square feet of build-to-suit space on the Matrix waterfront project located on the Passaic River.
To accommodate future expansion in the city, the proposal said that 14 million square feet of office space is being constructed downtown. The space is being developed in the area between the city’s two train stations and planned waterfront development.
Several owners of the existing proposed Amazon sites and others under development wrote letters to the e-tailer as part of the city’s application, including Matrix Development Group, Lotus Equity Group LLC, Edison Properties and the Berger Organization.
These are the six locations that Newark discussed in its proposal.
Two Gateway Center
One of the owners of Two Gateway Center (pictured, right) described it as Newark's largest commercial office building, and it is part of Phase I in the plans that the city laid out in its proposal for Amazon.
The property has roughly 832,000 square feet, and is one of four landmark interconnected buildings that total 2.3 million square feet. Newark said 655,000 square feet would be available there for Amazon.
The building at 289-299 Market St. is owned by Lotus Equity Group LLC and C&K Properties. Lotus CEO Benjamin Korman, in a letter that Newark enclosed in its proposal, joined in the pitch on the city’s behalf.
"We have invested in Newark for the same reasons that make this a perfect place for Amazon," Korman wrote. "No other city can match Newark's combination of access to a talented and highly educated workforce, physical and digital infrastructure, and proud local culture and heritage - all at an affordable price."
Washington Park Campus
There are two buildings in the Washington Park area, 33 Washington St. and 520 Broad St. (pictured, below), identified for Phase I for Amazon. On Washington Street the roughly 450,000-square-foot building has 250,000 square feet available for lease to Amazon, according to Newark. The 18-story property, the former headquarters of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, is owned by the Berger Organization.
The Newark-based real estate firm purchased the building for $16.4 million in December 2016, according to CoStar data. There is a 30,000-square-foot data center at the location.
In a letter that was part of Newark’s proposal, the Berger Organization said that is supported the city’s HQ2 proposal for its property. The company owns and operates more than 1.5 million square feet of office space in Newark, and over the past two decades has invested roughly $40 million to renovate and upgrade those buildings, it said in its letter.
As for 33 Washington St., the Berger Organization described it as its latest investment, "an iconic office building on the Newark skyline" that will "undergo a major modernization."
Also slated to be part of Phase I, there is 350,000 square feet available for Amazon at 520 Broad St., a roughly 490,000-square-foot-building, according to Newark’s proposal.
It had been owned by Newark-based IDT Corp., but the company spun off its real estate assets late last month as a company called Rafael Holdings Inc.
The leasing agent for that property is Colliers International.
After Phase I, Newark’s proposal said that 1 million square feet will be available for Amazon to lease at the mixed-use Matrix Waterfront project, which will be built on property next to Panasonic’s North American headquarters. Matrix Development, in partnership with SJP Properties, developed that state-of-the-art facility.
In his letter to Amazon officials, Matrix CEO Joseph Taylor said that the riverfront project is bordered by Penn Station.
"With views of Manhattan, the land offers unmatched visibility and accessibility," he wrote. "Matrix's development plans for the Riverfront site are flexible and, therefore, able to accommodate a variety of uses to meet Amazon's needs. Whether the site gets developed as 2 million square feet in four towers or a complement of office, residential and hotel uses clustered together is undecided. The site is immediately ready for development, and Matrix and Newark stand ready to receive Amazon."
The project, being developed by Lotus Equity Group LLC at 450 Broad St., made headlines earlier this year because it will include the country’s largest planned mass-timber building.
In his letter to Amazon officials, Lotus Equity CEO Benjamin Korman said that his firm had assembled almost 17 acres with more than 3.5 million square feet of buildable space for the project.
The company plans up to 2 million square feet of office space and more than 3,600 residential units for that site in the next five to 10 years, according to Korman.
"This stock of new development is timed perfectly to support the expansion that HQ2 would entail," Korman wrote.
The $1.7 billion project is slated for an 11.8-acre site that includes the former Newark Bears and Eagles Stadium and the former site of the Lincoln Motel.
Cushman & Wakefield is the exclusive leasing agent for the development.
Newark named this area, and its 110 Edison Pl. building, as a potential site for Amazon. The property is a former warehouse owned by Edison Properties that is being repurposed as a 450,000-square-foot office building.
To its south, Newark is developing a three-acre park that will have a pedestrian bridge to the platforms at Newark Penn. The building will be Wired Certified Platinum, best in class across all types of network connectivity.
BRH Group LLC created the redevelopment master plan for this 23-acre area south of Market Street, or SoMA. It includes 79 parcels bounded by Broad, Market, Washington and Hill streets, according to the company’s website. The site has the capacity to contain more than 15 million square feet of development.
In its letter, BRH noted:
The plan envisioned downtown Newark as a ‘Living Downtown;' one that brings a mix of daytime and nighttime users to the urban core by encouraging rehabilitation and new residential and retail development in the center of the city.
Specifically, the Living Downtown Plan called for a downtown with thousands of residential units, the emergence of distinct new neighborhoods, distinct, thematic retail districts, diverse uses connected via vibrant, walkable and active streets, and development that leveraged mass transit.