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NEWARK, NJ-A refinancing package has been completed for what Newark Mayor Sharpe James labels the “crown jewel of Broad Street.”

Fleet’s Real Estate Finance group has completed a $72.1 million financing and syndication of an interim loan for 744 Elroy Urban Renewal Investors LLC, for the refinancing of 744 Broad St., a landmark office building also known as the National Newark Building. The refinancing is one of the largest commercial real estate transactions completed in Newark.

Fleet acted as administrative agent and arranger for this transaction, which supports activities that revitalize or stabilize low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Other banks participating in the transaction are Citibank, City National Bank of New Jersey and Sovereign Bank.

“Its refurbishing to its former grandeur sets an example for other office buildings along our downtown corridors to follow,” says James.

“Our significant investment in Newark through this financing will provide jobs to individuals within the community, as well as help to revitalize the city’s business district,” notes Philip G. Grossman, executive VP and market manager, community real estate finance at Fleet.

The 34-story, 615,000 sf facility is more than 80% leased and includes such tenants as Starbucks, Kinko’s, Lexis-Nexis, Duane Morris, Chase Bank, and PSE&G. The building is operated and managed by Cogswell Realty Group, a full service real estate company that acquires and repositions older and/or underutilized office buildings in the Tri-State area.

“We believe this show of confidence by Fleet also will encourage other developers to invest in the City of Newark,” adds Mark E. Kabakow, vice president, community real estate finance at Fleet, who negotiated the financing for Fleet and the other participating banks. Since 1998, Fleet has provided more than $315 million in financing for the creation of 4,000 units of affordable housing in New Jersey and more than 850,000 sf of commercial space.

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