A Farm Grows in Newark

New Jersey is known as the Garden State, but most wouldn’t expect a former industrial site in Newark to become home to the world’s largest indoor vertical farm.
Ron Beit, RBH Group

Ron Beit, RBH Group

New Jersey is known as the Garden State but most wouldn’t expect a former industrial site in Newark, N.J., to become home to the world’s largest indoor vertical farm. RBH Group and AeroFarms are transforming a converted steel factory into a 69,000-square-foot indoor growing facility and the corporate headquarters for AeroFarms.

Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and Prudential Financial along with the City of Newark and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority are also partnering with RBH Group and AeroFarms on the $30 million project.

The former factory is located at 212 Rome St. in the city’s Ironbound section and is owned by RBH Group, which has acquired, developed, rehabilitated and/or operated more than 1 million square feet of commercial and residential real estate in the United States. In Newark, RBH is currently developing the Teachers Village and Four Corners Millennium projects. The $150 million mixed-use project broke ground nearly two years ago and features apartments for teachers and several charter schools.

Ron Beit, CEO and founding partner of RBH Group, said in a news release the AeroFarms development is the anchor of a Makers Village project that will be built on the three-acre site. The first phases will open later this year and create about 78 jobs. When completed, AeroFarms will have the capacity to grow up to 2 million pounds a year of baby leafy greens and fresh herbs. The firm, founded in 2004, uses a soil-free approach to vertical farming to grow the salad ingredients.

AeroFarmsCorporateHQ1322

AeroFarms Corporate HQ

He said the Makers Village development would “compete toe-to-toe with the Brooklyn Navy Yard in terms of superior cost structure and greater transmodal access, bringing 21st century ‘maker-type’ businesses to Newark and the state of New Jersey.”

“Partnering with RBH, Goldman Sachs, Prudential, the City of Newark and NJEDA allows us to bring our global headquarters and the world’s largest indoor vertical farm close to where the consumer is, offering a fresher, more nutritious and delicious product while also creating jobs in the community,” David Rosenberg, AeroFarms CEO, said in the release.

The firm is creating a recruiting and job training program for local residents with the Ironbound Community Corp.

Margaret Anadu, managing director, Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, said the development would “boost the local economy, promote healthy food options locally, and support environmental sustainability.”

Other projects in the New York-New Jersey region funded by the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, include a $75 million investment fund for residential development. Known as the GS BRP Urban Joint Venture, Goldman Sachs is partnering with BRP Cos. of New York on the fund.