Newark's iconic Bell Building slated for mixed-use conversion

Built in 1929 for New Jersey Bell, 540 Broad Street is being converted into a mixed-use building.

Newark, NJ—Newark’s iconic Bell building may be Newark's next hot spot.

Built in 1929 and designed for the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, the 21-story tower—located on Broad Street in downtown Newark—is being converted into a mixed use project by 540 Broad Street LLC, a joint venture comprised of principal partners L+M Development Partners, Inc., Prudential Financial, Inc. and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group.

The Bell Building conversion, which began in June with an anticipated completion date of Dec. 2018, is slated for a mixed-income, mixed-use development featuring 263 residences on the top 15 floors—20 percent of which will be affordable to families making between 40 and 50 percent of the Area Median Income—as well as 17,000 sq.-ft. of retail and office space on the bottom floors.

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The project is L+M and Prudential’s latest investment in the revitalization of downtown Newark in partnership with the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and Citi Community Capital, both of which are providing financing for the project. L+M purchased the building in 2016 for $16.5 million.

The Art Deco building, which was designed by famed architect Ralph Thomas Walker, is known for its majestic lobby and brick-and-sandstone exterior, both of which were added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

The building has been home to Verizon's regional offices, which will continue to occupy the building’s fourth floor.

Fronting Washington Park, the Bell Building is steps away from Rutgers Newark Business School, Audible, the Newark Museum and the Broad St. NJ Transit station.

L+M Development Partners Vice President for Development Jon Cortell said the available space will be ideal for businesses looking to establish themselves in Newark.

“Newark’s unique energy and burgeoning downtown community presents an excellent opportunity for businesses to thrive,” Cortell said. “Coupled with the historic nature of this Ralph Walker masterpiece, we know tenants will find a lot to love.”

Executive Managing Director Timothy Greiner of JLL—the commercial realty group tapped to lease out three floors of the building—noted L+M’s past success with other development projects in Newark.

“L+M Development Partners specializes in developing and managing high-quality buildings that serve local communities,” Greiner said. “The firm plans to convert the former Bell building into a mixed-use property, with office and retail space on the bottom floors and several hundred apartments on the top 15 floors. L+M has already seen great success in Newark with its redevelopment of the former Hahne and Co. flagship department store building.”

“The office space at 540 Broad Street will have its own entrance on Lombardy Street, with a brand-new lobby,” JLL Executive Vice President Blake Goodman said. “We’re planning to create loft-style office space for the vacant floors, with the design typing into throwback historic restoration launched by ownership.”

The development team is working with Rutherford-based Inglese Architecture and Engineering (IAE) for the new design and repositioning of the 436,000-square-foot tower and have engaged NYC-based architecture, planning and interior design firm CetraRuddy to support IAE.

Earlier this year, the partnership re-opened the historic Hahne & Co. building at 609 Broad St., transforming the former department store into a mixed-use complex featuring residences, an arts and cultural center operated by Rutgers University-Newark, Newark’s first Whole Foods Market and Marcus Samuelsson restaurant Marcus B&P.

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