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TINTON FALLS, NJ-Cantone Office Center, a two-building, 70,000-sf complex at 766 Shrewsbury Ave. here, has been sold for $7.3 million, or just more than $104 per sf. The seller, represented by the Edison-based Zimmel Associates, was Cantone Research Inc., a privately held small cap stock research firm that remains headquartered at the site and for whom the complex is named. The buyer is the Woodbridge-based Onyx Equities.

The transaction was an off-market deal. “It was never officially on the market,” says Zimmel Associates’ president David Zimmel, who has also been the property’s exclusive leasing agent for the past three years and will retain that role under the new ownership. “We recognized the untapped investment potential and believed it would be an excellent fit for Onyx.

“The principals at Onyx quickly discerned the value potential of the asset,” he says. “This is a win-win transaction in that Cantone, which had owned the buildings for 10 years and built up considerable equity, gained an excellent return.”

Built in 1973, the property consists of the 44,000-sf, four-story East Building and the 26,000-sf, two-story West Building. The complex has not been extensively renovated since the 1970s, but Onyx plans to change that. On tap, according to Onyx officials, are exterior renovations that include a new glass facade and interior renovations to the entry lobbies, corridors, elevator cabs and other common areas. That work is slated to begin by the end of this year.

And because the property is located not far from three major hospitals, Riverview, Monmouth and Jersey Shore medical centers, the ongoing leasing effort will focus in part on that category. “The location appealed to the principals at Onyx, who plan to convert a portion of the complex to medical use,” Zimmel says. “Onyx is in a position to make the building very competitive in the current marketplace.”

With the acquisition, the three-year-old Onyx has now bumped its portfolio of office, retail and industrial properties past the 3.5-million-sf mark. The properties, in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, have an estimated value in the $647-million range.

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