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NEWARK-Newwork Real Estate has retained Tekton Development Corp. as the general contractor for the Richardson Building Lofts. Built in 1912, the six-story, 66,000-square-foot former jewelry factory located here at 50-60 Columbia St. will be converted into a 67-unit, loft-style apartment building.

“Richardson Lofts is an architectural and historical gem,” says Brendan Murray, president of New Brunswick-based Tekton Development. “We are delighted to be involved in the restoration of a building that represents such a significant contribution to the revitalization of downtown Newark. The project also allows us to draw on Tekton’s expertise in green building techniques.”

While Tekton prides itself on its commitment to green building, Murray tells GlobeSt.com that the $17-million restoration of the Richardson building has posed some special challenges, including recycling as much of the original building material as possible.

“The original brick has been restored, with brick from demolished areas being used to fill in where needed; the original fire escapes are being repurposed into private balconies; and the original cement floors will be retained,” Murray says. “Wall panels will be prefabricated to exact specifications in order to reduce waste and the building will use only the most advanced and efficient energy and ventilation systems.”

Murray is an avid champion of the notion that green need not cost more. “You just have to change your approach,” he says. One key to this approach is bringing a general contractor experienced in green construction aboard early, thus creating a collaborative relationship between owner and builder.

The Richardson Building Lofts will have some novel green features, including a two-story addition capped by a green roof that will bring the building to eight stories. “The green roof, which will decrease runoff and provide insulation, may even include a vegetable farm,” says Michael Saltzman, managing principal of Newwork. The upper floors and roof will offer views of downtown Newark and the Manhattan skyline. Another feature Saltzman points to is the original spiral staircase, a dramatic steel structure that will serve as the centerpiece of a common skylighted atrium/gathering place.

Ranging in size from 750 to 1,300 square feet, the apartments will feature open floor plans, expansive windows, high ceilings, exposed brick, private terraces and ample underground parking. Double-height duplex units are also available. Amenities will include a high-tech business center, two fitness rooms and FreshDirect-ready cold storage. The building is slated for completion in September 2009.

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