Panel: Making a (strong) case for Gateway Center

Four-building complex, built in ’70s and ’80s, is getting makeover but still is ahead of its time in regard to technology

By Tom Bergeron
Newark | Jun 21, 2018 at 2:06 pm

Newark developers and city officials love to talk about the explosion of real estate opportunities throughout the city.

And, while so many new properties are being built, officials at CBRE said companies would be remiss if they overlooked one of the city’s longstanding office landmarks: the four buildings that make up the Gateway Center.

Speaking earlier this week at a panel discussion sponsored by CBRE, “Rising, the Newark Office Market Story,” on the top floor of Gateway 2, CBRE officials said the buildings not only have some amenities few others can match, they are in the process of adding other amenities that could make the buildings regain their prominence.

“This is a building that was built 40 years ago, and it’s still ahead of its time,” Dudley Ryan, a senior vice president who has represented Gateway 2 for more than two decades.

“The building was a design built by and for AT&T as Western Electric’s Northeast Regional headquarters. It was designed by engineers, for engineers.”

Because of it, Ryan said the floors of the building were created with a duct system for power cables you will find in few places today.

“It’s a trench that’s built into the slab,” he said. “It’s about 3×5 inches and they’re every 8 inches. What that gives you is the capability to alternate communication and power and slide it anywhere. So, you don’t need a power pool, you don’t need a column, you don’t need to wire your furniture, you don’t need to put an outlet in a wall.”

And you get more power as a result, he said.

“We typically quote 6 watts per square foot, but we can easily do 8 watts or more as long as tenants justify the need. For many of our tenants in the building with mission-critical operations (including Broadridge Financial, which just moved in), part of the attractiveness of the building is that pre-built infrastructure for the density in today’s office needs.”

The building also has two other advantages.

Ryan said the dark fiber cable that gives Newark some of the fastest internet speeds in the world goes “right by our front door.” In addition, the building is on the same power grid as Public Service Enterprise Group, which has its headquarters next door.

Because of it, Ryan said the building recently received a Wiredscore of 99 (out of 100), making it the only building in the state to get a platinum ranking.

All this being said, the four buildings are decades old.

Gateway One and Two were completed in 1972. Gateway Three was completed in 1985 and Gateway Four was built in 1988.

And, while the buildings have different owners and different leasing agents, they are often viewed as one entity.

An entity that is just beginning to get a much-needed facelift.

“There is an unbelievable opportunity for the new owners,” CBRE Senior Vice President Jeremy Neuer said. “And it will be amazingly creative for all four buildings. When you look at the trend in the market, which is Class A buildings providing over the top amenities and retail, that is not the way it is now. It is old, it’s tired.

“I think whatever they do, it’s going to amazingly increase the value of all four buildings. I’m excited to see what it’s going to look like 12-18 months from now because I don’t think it’s going to look anything like it does right now. What it looks like now is exactly the way it looked 12 years ago. It hasn’t moved forward at all. I think you’ll see a very rapid pace of improvement and I think you’ll see it will be very amenity driven and forward thinking.”

Jeff Babikian, an executive vice president at CBRE, said the time is right.

For years, Babikian said, there was concern about the areas surrounding the buildings — making employees in the building not want to interact with the city.

Babikian said there were exhaustive studies regarding the experience, especially for women. Those concerns, he said, are no longer valid.

“(People are) now going out and saying, ‘What’s the problem here?’” he said. “You didn’t have that feeling five or six years ago. There’s the difference and, boy, Gateway needs it.”

Aisha Glover, the CEO and president of the Newark Community Economic Development Corp., agreed.

“The workforce in Gateway has started to come out and make their way further up Market (Street) because there are more and more restaurants opening,” she said. “But as such a landmark in the downtown core, it’s an important investment to make.”

Glover said Gateway Center needs to both attract people into the buildings and make those in the buildings want to go out.

“It’s not just one or the other,” she said. “I think they can and they should be thinking about the façade … making it more exciting. This is the gateway to the city, it should look like it.”

Ryan agreed.

“We are actively marketing and soliciting people to come inside — to share the complex with the community and the community with the complex,” he said.

Ryan noted the presence of an art museum in Gateway 2 as well as regular jazz events.

“There’s actually an experience that we’re creating.”

That experience, they all agreed, needs a fresh look.

“I think we just want to make sure that Gateway comes into the year 2018,” Glover joked.

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