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NEWARK-Wells REIT II has acquired 80 Park Plaza, a one-million-sf Downtown office tower. The seller was Newark Urban Renewal Investors LP, an affiliate of Lehman Brothers.

The deal was brokered for the seller by Gary Gabriel and Andrew Merin of Cushman & Wakefield’s Metropolitan Area Capital Markets Group, East Rutherford and the reported sale price of $147.5 million factors out to about $144 per sf.

The building, a Downtown landmark, serves as the headquarters of its sole tenant, utility giant Public Service Electric & Gas. It was completed in 1979 as a build-to-suit for PSE&G by the New York-based Rockefeller Group Development and has undergone significant improvements in the past three years. The asset consists of a 26-story main tower and a three-story plaza.

“This is a fine addition to the portfolio for our investors,” says Jeff Gilder, managing director of acquisitions for the Norcross, GA-based Wells. “It’s a quality property with a very stable tenant in PSE&G.”

“Newark is undergoing a notable resurgence,” says Wells investment officer Heather Griner, who teamed with Gilder to represent the buyer. “It’s a strong class A market with limited availability, excellent transit and proximity to New York City.”

While PSE&G is booked into the entire building under a lease that runs into 2015, there had been some questions very recently about how much of the asset the state’s largest utility would actually continue to occupy. PSE&G had last year agreed to be acquired by the Chicago-based Exelon in a $28-billion deal, but earlier this month Exelon backed out in the face of opposition by the state’s Board of Public Utilities.

The building houses 2,500 of PSE&G’s 10,500 employees, and while the merger was still on, company officials indicated that some 1,500 jobs would be trimmed post-merger, with about half of those cuts coming at 80 Park Plaza. Company officials did indicate that the utility would continue to occupy all of the building with the trimmed staff. For now, at least, PSE&G’s occupancy is at status quo.

For its part, new owner Wells REIT II is a public non-traded REIT that specializes in office buildings, with a total of 54 assets in 18 states. Its portfolio is currently valued in the $2.5-billion range.

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