JERSEY CITY-The Lefrak Organization has built four high-rise office towers in the last three years at its Newport planned community on this city’s waterfront. Despite the activity by Lefrak and other developers who have added several million sf of class A office space, the country’s hottest office market has a vacancy rate of only 0.41%. Other developers active in the market include Hartz Mountain Industries and Gale & Wentworth, as well as SJP Properties a little to the south in Hoboken.

The state of the market is now prompting Lefrak to build Newport Office Center VII, a 1.1 million-sf, 32-story tower slated to be under construction next month. The projected timeline has completion scheduled for June 2002. It will also finish up Lefrak’s first phase of office construction at Newport with a total of five million sf of space. Altogether, the $10 billion Newport project covers 600 acres with office, retail and residential uses.

NOC VII is being built on spec, just like the other four buildings Lefrak developed here in the last three years. But it likely won’t remain that way for long. One signal: Lefrak has leased more than three million sf at Newport in just the last 24 months. The market has given no indication of slackening demand.

“Building on spec takes confidence,” admits Lefrak Organization president Richard LeFrak, son of legendary developer Sam LeFrak. The elder LeFrak is credited with starting the whole development phenomenon on Jersey City’s waterfront.

LeFrak says the confidence to do a big spec project comes from the fact that “Newport has been an extraordinary success so far. Newport’s six office buildings are completely leased, and we believe that NOC VII will also be fully leased before completion.”

Designed by the architectural firm of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, NOC VII will carry out a nautical theme with a glass wall on the southeast corner projecting like a spinnaker from a sailboat. It will have views of New York Harbor and lower Manhattan. The interior will feature 46,000-sf column-free floors, redundant fiber optics and indoor parking. It will also feature 12,000 sf of retail on the ground floor.

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