Prism Capital Partners’ 100 Metro Boulevard
Real Estate

Regenerating the Garden State’s Suburbs

A look at the demise of suburban office parks, and what’s being done to bring them back to life.

The theory that history repeats itself is a tangible one, at least in terms of New Jersey’s commercial real estate landscape, as the “comeback” of suburban office parks alongside exciting mixed-use developments continues to flourish.

“Forward-thinking New Jersey suburbs are poised for a comeback due to the dramatic demographic changes occurring,” says NAIOP (NJ) CEO Michael McGuinness, explaining that “many city residents, especially those in their 20s and 60s, are seeking alternate living arrangements that better suit their needs.

“Towns that have invested in their infrastructure and assets for the long-term and are ready to accommodate this exodus of consumers and their preferences will be able to compete for this wealth of talent and the resources they bring to their communities by providing mixed-use and walkable communities,” McGuinness says.

“The suburban office park demise came at the hands of a resurgence of urban office buildings with amenities,” says NAI James E. Hanson Senior Vice President Scott Perkins, SIOR, CCIM. However, in direct response to New York-metro and New Jersey’s urban office sites alike, suburban areas, through “the art” of adaptive reuse, and by adding amenities to existing office complexes, are recreating suburban office campuses with more of a “city feel.”

One of these such developments is the large-scale Bell Works project in Holmdel, where a suburban location of a single-tenant-user has been transformed into a hub for office space with impressive amenities, attractive not only to workers at the complex, but to the town’s and surrounding areas’ populations as well. One interesting example is the inclusion of the Holmdel Library on-site, which serves as a draw to the location, highly benefiting its retailers.

Perkins, also currently serving as president of SIOR (NJ), is quick to point out that Bell Works refers to itself as a “Metroburb.”

The rebranded and redeveloped 2-million-square-foot (former Bell Labs) site has leased nearly 1 million square feet of office space, and signed 15 retail tenants. All-in-all, 49 companies now call Bell Works home. The unique site, which also features 110,000 square feet of public space, saw 210% employee growth in the last year and will soon feature a 200-key hotel to further help bolster a mixed-use urban environment in the sprawling suburban Garden State Parkway corridor.

Another stellar example of a successful suburban development is the extremely high-profile Prism Capital Partners’ ON3 redevelopment plan of the former Hoffmann-La Roche campus in Passaic and Essex counties. The nearly $10-million first phase of development began last year and is moving along at a steady and impressive pace.

A huge milestone was Prism’s renovation of 100 Metro Boulevard, the new home of Ralph Lauren Corporation’s New Jersey headquarters that was recently completed, and it was also announced a week prior to Christmas that 225 new jobs, and more than 1,000 employees overall, had moved to Ralph Lauren’s new location.

A complete lobby redesign featuring 30-foot ceilings and a new entryway highlight the improvements at the seven-story building. Outside, Prism has created a courtyard with communal areas for social and business gatherings. Furthermore, the construction of a 2,500-space parking garage to serve both 100 Metro Boulevard and the adjacent, 15-story 200 Metro Boulevard was finished in time for the iconic American fashion brand’s anticipated move-in.

Ongoing at the landmark 200 Metro Boulevard tower, Prism is in the process of removing the original east-facing marble façade and replacing it with a new curtain-wall glass exterior. This will match the northern and southern facades, and create enhanced views of the Manhattan skyline. Other renovation work is readying the building for its future tenant(s).

“Ultimately, 100 and 200 Metro Boulevard are key components of the next-generation, mixed-use complex we envision at ON3,” says Prism’s Edwin Cohen, principal partner. “The work being completed at both buildings – and the introduction of the first structure parking in the campus’ history – reflect the major steps forward we are taking.”

The ON3 redevelopment represents New Jersey’s next generation lifestyle hub. It is positioned to set a benchmark in “walking urbanism” by providing a world-class, mixed-use setting integrating an abundance of office space, R&D facilities, recreational, hospitality and wellness options as well as other uses, thus creating a 24/7 environment.

“At ON3 they tout ‘urban vitality and suburban flexibility’ by harnessing a combination of office, retail and R&D that provides the ‘live, work and play’ atmosphere that millennials and now Generation Z are looking for,” Perkins says.

“The time has passed when you buy a house with a white picket fence and commute to a non-descript office building to work,” Perkins continues. “The age of the internet has changed the desires of the workforce, and consequently developments such as ON3 and Bell Works have both responded with a great product.”

Along those same lines of continually transforming suburban office campuses is Glenpointe in Teaneck. Encompassing a picturesque 50-acre campus, Glenpointe is among the most sought-after corporate destinations in the state. In addition to more than 670,000 square feet of Class-A office space, Glenpointe boasts 700 guest rooms across three on-site hotels in addition to over 40,000 square feet of conference space. Other notable features are the 26,000-square-foot Glenpointe Spa and Fitness Center, abundant covered parking, 24/7 security, an array of convenience services, and onsite access to public mass transit.

A key facet of Glenpointe’s ongoing success are capital improvement projects and the adding of crucial amenities to its already impressive list of offerings. It is no secret to these real estate professionals that these formulas are what attract new tenants and retain existing ones.

A notable example of this theme is its recent completion of major renovations to The Green, a 22,000-square-foot outdoor oasis in which tenants and guests can relax, enjoy a meal, or unplug from their desks and work in a serene, open air environment. The Green bolsters Glenpointe’s amenity offerings with Wi-Fi connectivity and ample patio seating options including benches, tables and chairs to accommodate a variety of uses.

Like the constantly evolving Glenpointe campus itself, The Green was designed to strike the ideal balance between old and new spaces. A longstanding centerpiece of the outdoor space at Glenpointe, the fountain will remain a key focal point of The Green with flora, greenery and inviting seating areas encircling it to provide scenic views as well as shaded areas.

“Today’s employers are looking for spaces that redefine the traditional, rigid office experience. At Glenpointe, we’ve created a unique environment that enhances tenant satisfaction, collaboration and productivity,” says Ryan Sanzari, COO of Alfred Sanzari Enterprises, which developed, owns and operates Glenpointe. “The Green demonstrates our continued commitment to providing tenants with superior service and in-demand amenities.”

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