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NEWARK-The footings and support beams were put in place on the Downtown Newark site back in the late 1980s, but when the national real estate market went in the tank shortly thereafter, nothing was ever done with them. They’re still in place, and Gale & Wentworth of Florham Park, NJ, one of the state’s largest commercial real estate development companies, wants to use the site to build an eight-story, 350,000-sf class A office building.

Small and medium-sized firms have been gobbling up space in renovated pre-World War II buildings in downtown Newark for months, and with space drying up the market appears poised for new office construction. If the G&W project goes forward, it would be the first new Downtown office building in a decade. The last one was Hartz Mountain’s Blue Cross/Blue Shield building, built back in the early 1990s.

Gale & Wentworth co-founder Stan Gale has already indicated publicly that his company has been talking to several large space users regarding long-term commitments for a new building. Even in this tight market, it’s unlikely such a project would get off the ground without significant pre-leasing as a prerequisite for getting major lenders interested. According to Gale, “we are looking at several other projects in Newark, and have several large users working with us.”

The site is adjacent to the Legal Communications Building near Newark’s Penn Station and the existing Gateway office complex. G&W and Tishman Speyer own two of the four Gateway buildings, and recently sold Gateway 3. The new structure will probably bear the Gateway name as well, according to Gale.

Interestingly, Newark-based Prudential Insurance is said to be interested in finding a development partner to do yet another new office tower in the downtown area. The insurer is targeting a site on Market Street, not far from where the proposed arena for the NBA New Jersey Nets and NHL New Jersey Devils would be built.

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