Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Tuesday joined L+M Development Partners, Prudential Financial Inc. and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group (UIG) in partnership with Citi Community Capital to formally open Walker House, the fully restored, landmarked former home of NJ Bell in the heart of Downtown Newark.
The opening of the 264-unit mixed income residence with office and ground floor retail space at 540 Broad St. was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, marking the complete restoration of the Art Deco masterpiece, portions of which were added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
L+M Chief Executive Officer Ron Moelis and Managing Director Jonathan Cortell, Prudential Vice President Ommeed Sathe, and Goldman Sachs UIG Managing Director Sherry Wang were joined by Mayor Baraka, New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) Executive Director Charles Richman, Citi Community Capital Head of Municipal Finance John Heppolette, New Jersey Community Capital President Wayne Meyer and National Trust Community Investment Corp. Project Manager William Fiederlein to commemorate the Newark landmark’s reopening.
“The renovation and revitalization of this historic building is an important step in transforming our downtown,” said Mayor Baraka. “In the past few years, we have seen the renovation of Military Park, a new Prudential skyscraper, restoration of the Hahne’s Building and the grand opening of Mulberry Commons, just to name a few. In Walker House, the partnership of L+M, Prudential and Goldman Sachs UIG, has proven once again, that the inspired repurposing of our landmark buildings is a necessary part of planning for Newark’s future.”
“Walker House lies at the intersection of history and the revival of Downtown Newark. We are proud to partner with L+M, Prudential, and Goldman Sachs on this impactful project,” said Fiederlein, who facilitated a historic tax credit equity investment in Walker House.
Designed by famed architect Ralph Thomas Walker in the 1920s, the 21-story Walker House will feature a brewery and rock climbing gym, and in April welcomed Per Scholas, the tech training nonprofit, to its office space. The restoration of the building includes the renovation of its majestic lobby and brick-and-sandstone exterior, both of which are on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The project received tax exempt bond financing and also was awarded 4 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits from NJHMFA, as well as key support from the City of Newark. Additional financing for Walker House was provided by Citi Community Capital, National Trust Community Investment Corp. and New Jersey Community Capital. Also, Freddie Mac provided a forward commitment for a permanent mortgage.
L+M, Prudential and Goldman Sachs UIG launched leasing for Walker House’s 211 luxury residences just last month, offering potential tenants first-rate amenities with high-end finishes in a landmarked building. Each unit includes stainless steel appliances, solid quartz countertops, full-height porcelain backsplashes, and in-home washers and dryers. Select homes include private terraces. The building’s top floor is fully dedicated to resident amenities, including a state-of-the-art fitness center and yoga studio, library lounge, game room, private catering kitchen and dining room, along with a rooftop terrace with outdoor seating and dining, a fire pit and BBQs.
Walker House is located across the street from light rail service, blocks away from the New Jersey Transit Broad Street Station, and is a 10-minute walk from Newark Penn Station—with access to Amtrak, PATH and NJ Transit rail. It establishes an ideal fit for a mixed-use project that includes Class A office space, retail and mixed-income housing.
Walker House fronts Washington Park and is across the park from the Newark Museum. It sits three blocks from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Express Newark, Rutgers University-Newark’s Arts incubator.
The Cedar Grove-based Inglese Architecture & Engineering (IAE) acted as project architect on the repositioning of Walker House. The Project team received vital design support from CetraRuddy, the NYC based architecture, planning and interior design firm, which was engaged to bring its acumen and experience from its several prior conversions of Ralph Walker buildings, including the Stella and the Walker Tower in Manhattan.
The project is L+M, Prudential and Goldman Sachs UIG’s latest Downtown Newark investment in partnership with Citi Community Capital. In 2017, the partnership re-opened the historic Hahne & Co. building blocks away at 609 Broad St. The former iconic department store, which sat abandoned for nearly 30 years, was transformed into a mixed-use complex featuring residences, an arts and cultural center operated by Rutgers University-Newark, Newark’s first Whole Foods Market and a Marcus Samuelsson restaurant, Marcus B&P.