NEWARK, NJ - Six years ago Prudential Insurance Company of America received approval for a three-phase redevelopment plan that would transform the city with two new office towers along Broad Street.
In 2015, one of those buildings, a 20-story tower, was completed and opened to great fanfare in Newark.
This past week, the city planning board extended the company's option for a year to build the second building, a 21-story high-rise.
But Prudential isn't saying when, or even if it will continue with its plans for the second tower, which would go up on the block between its new tower and Cedar Street. The land includes a parking lot and a building with retail space with a Blaze Pizza and a Starbucks.
A spokesperson for the company declined to comment on the extension. The law offices of Chiesa, Shahinian & Giantomasi, which represents the company for the project, also did not respond to a request for comment.
As Newark continues to grow, with the possibility of Amazon selecting the city as its second headquarters, another Prudential building would spur even more growth in the city, Newark Economic and Housing Development Director Carmelo Garcia said.
The planning board on July 23 approved a one-year extension of land use variances that were approved about six years ago for Prudential’s three-phase development. This included a 20-story glass tower that was completed in 2015 and retail space that today houses the Starbucks and Blaze Pizza.
The extensions could possibly signal the company wants to avoid a lengthy process of receiving variances from the zoning board again, should it want to complete the project.
Prudential has always been a “rock” in the city, Garcia said. The company uses the Rock of Gibraltar as its company logo.
“It’s exciting,” Garcia said. “Any office space that gets created is going to generate more employment opportunity. It’s going to generate more ratables.”
Prudential got its start in Newark in the 19th century and has invested millions of dollars into revitalization projects for the city’s Downtown area over the years.
“As the rock, they’re going to continue to fuel what we’ve been espousing about the direction the city is going in,” Garcia said, adding that the city wants to attract more tech and business.
The third phase’s 21-story tower calls for one that is similar to the one completed in 2015. It would encompass 678,000 square feet, a structured parking lot with 678 spaces and 15,100 square feet of retail space.
No specific address is listed for the third phase of the project’s site, but a planning board staff report that was later turned into the approved 2012 resolution identifies it as being between Broad and Halsey streets and what is now Prudential Drive and Cedar Street.
The third and final phase of the project proposed removing the Starbucks and Blaze Pizza, the report said. Two plazas are proposed in the project’s final phase for West Park Street (now Prudential Drive) and Broad Street.
The proposed tower facade would be made out of glass with an aluminum curtain wall. Stone stairs would lead to the plaza, too.
A spokesman from PLANewark, an organization that advocates for smart planning in Newark, said high-rise buildings often take years to get started and that developers like to move at their own pace. Still, the possibility of another Prudential tower jutting through the skyline at some point would make sense for the area.
“I think it would fit into the downtown fabric,” said PLANewark spokesman James Powell, adding that the area saw a resurgence around 2013 of tall buildings being constructed.