Panasonic to Move to Newark

The electronic products provider will occupy 250,000 square feet at the new tower at an initial estimated cost of $44 per square foot under a 15-year lease agreement.

April 21, 2011
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Panasonic Corporation of North America has signed a lease agreement for its new headquarters, which means that one New Jersey town will have to bid adieu to the electronic products provider, while another city in the Garden State will get to roll out the red carpet for the company. Panasonic will relocate its home base from Secaucus to 250,000 square feet at Two Riverfront Center, 410,000 square-foot office building that developers Matrix Development Group and SJP Properties will begin constructing now that the lease is a done deal.

Two Riverfront, designed by architectural firm Gensler, will be part of Matrix’s Riverfront Center complex, which includes the existing 419,000-square-foot One Riverfront and a remaining five acres for additional development. Panasonic will occupy space at the new tower at an initial estimated cost of $44 per square-foot under a 15-year lease agreement featuring two five-year renewal options, as noted in a New Jersey Economic Development Authority memo dated mid-February.

Panasonic did quite a bit of looking around, even beyond the state of New Jersey, before selecting Newark for its new headquarters location, and it had at least 102 reasons to do so. Under the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Program, the New Jersey EDA approved a $102.4 million subsidy for Panasonic, contingent upon the company’s creation of about 200 new jobs at its new location over a 10-year period.

“This is an example of how the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit legislation was designed to work, attracting good paying jobs and investment to our urban areas where jobs are most needed,” State Senator Ray Lesniak, chair of the Senate’s Economic Growth Committee, noted.

Come 2013, approximately 1,000 Panasonic staff members and contractors will depart Secaucus to set up shop at Two Riverfront, leaving behind the company’s present digs at the mixed-use Harmon Meadow development, which is owned by Hartz Mountain Industries Inc. Officials of the City of Secaucus, however, are not the only ones wearing a frown. Hartz is fighting the New Jersey EDA’s Panasonic subsidy through an appeal with the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey in Hudson County.

According to Hartz, the company’s discontent is not about being a sore loser. During a public comment period at a New Jersey EDA board meeting earlier this year, Alan Maglini, senior vice president for land use and development with Hartz explained that the approval of tax credits for Panasonic under the Urban Transit Hub Program “is problematic and not the legislative purpose of the program.” He noted his company’s belief that Panasonic does not meet the program requirements since Panasonic would not be bringing new jobs, adding, “EDA’s administration of the net benefits test must factor the economic impact of the loss of the company to Secaucus.”

As per court records, a hearing is scheduled for April 29.