JV Wraps Deal for 1.6 MSF Newark Office Campus

A four-way partnership, with backing from Newark mainstay Prudential, acquired most of New Jersey’s largest transit-hub office campus.
Gateway Center
Gateway Center, Newark, N.J.

A joint venture of Garrison Investment Group, Axonic Capital LLC, Taconic Capital Advisors and Onyx Equities LLC has acquired One, Two and Four Gateway Center in Newark, N.J. JLL brokered the deal.

Prudential Financial, which has had its global headquarters in Newark since the company’s founding more than a century ago, will participate as a co-investment partner. The 1.6 million-square-foot transaction reportedly both was New Jersey’s largest office deal of 2018 and marks the first majority interest in the complex in recent history.

The new ownership says it intends to execute a multi-million dollar modernization plan aiming at creating more-vibrant retailing in the 1,400-foot concourse, where about 60,000 people walk each week, mostly to and from Newark Penn Station.

In a prepared statement, John Saraceno, co-founder & managing principal of Onyx, said that increased residential investment in the Newark area, along with an uptick in corporate relocations there, had sparked the joint venture’s interest in the Gateway Center opportunity.

JLL’s capital markets group, led by Managing Directors Thomas Walsh and Joseph Garibaldi, served as investment sale broker in the transaction. Onyx will serve as the operating arm, overseeing asset and property management, tenant relations, leasing and construction. 

JLL will handle office leasing for Gateway One and Two, and RKF has been assigned as the retail agent. Gensler was selected as the project architect, and rebranding and marketing assistance will be provided by Real Estate Arts.

Toward a better future

While high-profile, Gateway Center has had its share of troubles. In fall 2017, Kevin Collins of C&K Properties, which had bought Two Gateway in 2006, acknowledged that the concourse was a remnant of the “urban renewal” 1970s, when letting office tenants walk to and from Newark Penn Station without ever being at street level was seen as an important amenity. Advance Realty, then owner of One Gateway, also noted the value of making the concourse friendlier to the general public than it had been for most of its history. 

In March 2017, C&K paid $79 million to retire a $121 million CMBS loan that had gone into special servicing in 2015, after occupancy started plummeting at the 782,800-square-foot building.

In 2018 New Jersey’s unemployment rate fell to 4.0 percent, the lowest since 2001, according to a fourth-quarter report from Cushman & Wakefield. That helped the northern New Jersey office market’s overall vacancy decline to 18.8 percent, while Newark hit 16.5 percent, on an inventory of 14.3 million square feet.

Average asking rents for Class A space rose 4.7 percent over 2017.

Image courtesy of JLL