Townsend Gateway Limited Partnership, based in Maryland, bought 33 Washington St. in Downtown Newark from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NJ a little over two years ago for $12 million. The insurer moved its headquarters out of the building to a newer facility elsewhere in Newark, although it still holds space in 33 Washington.

Now, Savitar Realty Advisors, based in Miami, is set to grab the property. While Savitar officials won’t confirm the sale price, local industry observers peg it in the $22 million range, possibly higher, nearly twice the price of its earlier sale. Newark boosters say it’s another sign that the long-awaited rebirth of NJ’s largest city is indeed a reality.

“I believe Newark will rival New York City, Hoboken and Jersey as a destination for offices, entertainment and residents,” says Savitar president Clifford Marshall Stein. He wouldn’t provide any details on the transaction, but given the resurgence of Newark’s Washington Park section, that price might turn out to be a bargain.

The building sits between the acclaimed Newark Museum and the Newark Public Library. The Washington Park section has become a magnet for several hot business sectors, notably e-commerce, financial services and law firms. Nearby, Rutgers University wants to bring a developer in to convert its old law school building into a luxury hotel and conference center. Right across the street from 33 Washington is the former Mutual Benefit Life tower, now reborn as the HQ for IDT Corp. and its 1,200 employees. Finally, a brand new minor league baseball stadium and the NJ Performing Arts Center are both in the vicinity.

Since Townsend took 33 Washington from Blue Cross/Blue Shield in 1997, the company has performed a major makeover and recently signed several new tenants to long-term leases. Among them are the Journal of Commerce, CheckFree Inc. and several law firms.

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