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NEWARK, NJ-Standard Chartered Bank has signed a 10-year lease for 45,000 sf at Two Gateway Center, an 18-story, 780,000-sf office tower in this city’s Gateway complex adjacent to Newark Penn Station, a major commuter rail hub. With the signing, the London-based Standard Chartered will move between 250 and 300 staffers across the Hudson River from the company’s US headquarters at One Madison Ave. in Manhattan.

The move involves about half of the bank’s Manhattan operations, according to company officials, and is related to its acquisition of American Express Bank Ltd. from the American Express Co. That deal, valued at $823 million, closed this past month.

Additional details of the lease transaction were not immediately available, but space in the building had been listed with an asking price of $35 per sf. The ownership was represented by CB Richard Ellis, and Standard Chartered was represented by Jones Lang LaSalle.

Building owner 2 Gateway Partners LLC, an affiliate of New York-based C&K Properties, acquired the asset two years ago from American Landmark Properties for a price variously reported as between $156 million and $165 million, and subsequently picked up $140.5 million in financing to cover the transaction. Other major tenants include Prudential, the Port Authority of NY/NJ, the State of NJ, Wachovia and the US government.

“With more businesses coming into our city, Newark is constantly raising the bar for urban transformation,” says Mayor Cory Booker, in a statement. “Standard Chartered Bank’s move is a validation of the efforts being made on behalf of the administration and our resident to revitalize our city.”

Brick City Development Corp. is being credited with those efforts, and SCB is said to have picked the Newark location over competing bids from Jersey City, Princeton, Manhattan, White Plains, NY and Utica, NY.

“Standard Chartered Bank understood our position and made a strategic investment in the ongoing revitalization of our downtown,” says Joe Ritchie, CEO of BCDC, the non-profit group established in 2007 by the Booker administration to facilitate economic development. “BCDC is well-positioned to assist businesses in relocating and expanding in Newark from the point of interest to close of the deal.”

In this case, SCB is benefiting from the state’s Business Employment Incentive Program, a tax rebate program tied to number of jobs created. “SCB received the maximum amount available in the program,” says a spokesman. And SCB will also take advantage of the state’s urban enterprise zone sales tax exemption relating to construction materials and other taxable purchases. A spokesman for SCB declined to comment on the transaction.

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