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NEWARK – Gale & Wentworth, the Florham Park, NJ-based real estate company that already owns half of this city’s signature Gateway Center office complex, is about to up its investment in the future of New Jersey’s largest city. The company has just inked a deal to buy 570 Broad St., a 14-story, 175,000-sf landmark in this city’s CBD. The sale is expected to close by the end of the year.

The seller is Investment Properties Association, a group that at one time listed Leona Helmsley and the late Harry Helmsley among its partners. New York City-based Helmsley-Spear brokered the transaction on behalf of the seller, culminating year-long negotiations with the buyer.

570 Broad St. was most recently used as a regional headquarters by First Fidelity Bank, which moved out in 1997 after its merger with First Union Bank made the space redundant. IPA, which opted to sell the building rather than re-lease it and retain ownership, is known to have turned down several offers over the years because they didn’t match its firm asking price of $13 million.

None of the parties involved in the transaction will provide details, including the sale price. According to observers, IPA likely got its asking price of $13 million, which would put the sale in the $75 per sf range, a solid number for the market.

The new owner is expected to launch a major renovation and modernization of its new asset to position it as a class A property. The company is said to be actively negotiating with potential tenants, although one early candidate for occupancy of all or part of the building, Metlife, is apparently out of the picture. Gale & Wentworth is known to have had active discussions with the insurer last summer, concurrent to its own negotiations to buy the building.

Gale & Wentworth, which has a portfolio stretching from Boston to New Jersey on the East Coast, is also active on the West Coast in both Northern and Southern California. The company also has an office in the United Kingdom.

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