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NEWARK, NJ-When Rutgers Business School students arrived for fall semester classes, they were greeted by a new building and headquarters located at the 389,393-square-foot, Fidelco Group-owned One Washington Park here, just a few blocks north of the school’s previous location.

The presence of RBS at One Washington should assist in the ongoing redevelopment of the northern end of Newark’s Downtown/Arts District, and Broad Street station area, which has a number of vacant properties.

Fidelco, based in Millburn, purchased the near-empty space in 2004 and reoriented the front of the building to the north side to emphasize its close proximity to Broad Street station.

The owner/developer then went about revamping the property, including a 15,000-square-foot pavilion connecting the entrance lobby with the south side of the main building. The pavilion also features a new RBS trading room and three primary lecture halls.

While the first 11 of 17 floors house RBS classes, the remainder is designed for office use. To that end, Fidelco has invested $11 million in improvements to upgrade the building to class A status, including a fitness center, high-tech conference rooms, electronic touch-screen building directory and façade signage and lighting. Building improvements also feature refurbished common areas, elevators and bathrooms; fiber-optic wiring and top-of-the line heating and cooling systems; and new electrical, fire protection and video security systems.

Several tenants have entered into long-term leases, including Audible Inc., Trademark Plastics and HealthFirst. However, there is space available for occupancy, including full multiple floors, accommodating up to 150,000 square feet, as well as smaller units.

According to Fidelco chairman, Marc Berson, “The weakened economy is having an effect on Newark just like the rest of the country. But urban centers will be the focus over the next couple of years and will help get the country back on the right track.”

Fidelco is currently working on plans for 494 Broad St., which it purchased in 2007 for $10 million. When all is said and done, the six-story office building will feature a full-service restaurant and renovated lobby, as well as structured parking to accommodate 550 cars and an accompanying 12,000 square feet of retail space fronting Broad Street.

Much of the city’s revitalization efforts have been pushed along following the 2006 election of Mayor Cory Booker. Since taking office, Booker has made it his mission to tout the city’s infrastructure, available land and proximity to employment and capital nodes to investors, developers and business owners.

For businesses located within Newark’s Urban Enterprise Zone–essentially the South and Central Wards–some tax credits and reduced loans are available. Newark tenants can also benefit from the state’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program. Verizon, for one, was able to secure an estimated $20 million in incentives over the next 10 years, thanks to the program. As a result, the wireless giant will remain at its 540 Broad St. headquarters.

Still, the recession has left its mark on the city. Over the past two years, investment activity in this market has declined. The only sale recorded last year was IDT Corp.’s purchase of the full 440,000-square-foot building at 520 Broad St.

“The trading that was going to happen has already occurred,” asserts Cushman & Wakefield executive director David Stifelman. “What happened over the last three or four years was that people bought buildings and then just resold them at a lower cap rate. That’s how they were making their money, but this basically came to a halt over the past year.” According to Stifelman, even if you were able to do a deal now at a better cap rate, it’s hard to get financing. “Most of the A building owners who have favorable financing in place, a strong equity position and good cash flow are just going to wait it out.”

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