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JERSEY CITY, NJ-In a somewhat unusual move for a company that has developed more than 90% of its 35-million-sf portfolio, Hartz Mountain Industries has agreed to buy the 130,000-sf 15 Exchange Place office building here. According to sources, the price tag is in the $24-million range, which would put the transaction at just under $185 per sf. The seller is NOL Properties, a division of shipper Neptune Orient Lines.

Hartz, which helped trigger the building boom on this city’s waterfront several years ago with its 70 and 90 Hudson St., now controls one million sf of office space spanning more than 1,000 linear feet along the waterfront. The Secaucus, NJ-based company also owns the 77 Hudson St. site, which is fully zoned and approved for 1.1 million sf of office space.

“Historically, 15 Exchange Place not only has been a symbolic and important building, it has also been successful in attracting tenants,” says Hartz president Emanuel Stern. “We could never own enough of the Jersey City waterfront, and while there is space available at 15 Exchange Place, when the market returns, it will quickly absorb that and everything else available on the waterfront.

“New Jersey’s economic advantages over Lower Manhattan have cyclically spurred its development,” continues Stern, whose latest acquisition was built in the early 1900′s to accommodate the booming stock transaction clearing flow emanating from Manhattan as a result of a disparity in transaction taxes. “First it was shipping, then manufacturing and more recently residential and office space.”

“We didn’t expect to be acquiring property as part of our focus on building a portfolio of premier locations here,” Stern says. “But this was an opportunity that we could not let pass by.”

“This is one of the most unique office properties in New Jersey, with its direct access to the PATH train and other transportation links,” adds Jeffrey R. Dunne of the CB Richard Ellis Tri-State Investment Team, who represented seller NOL Properties. “It has direct waterfront views, and unlike any other waterfront office property, it offers 13,000-sf floor plates to accommodate smaller tenants. Hartz is certain to do well with 15 Exchange Place.”

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