Next step at Kearny Point: The Annex coworking space (SLIDESHOW)

There’s a change that occurs when someone takes their first steps into the Visitor Center of Building 78 at the Kearny Point development.

From industrial to contemporary.

“Over 50 percent (of our tenants) are startups,” said Michael McCarthy, sales associate at Paramus-based real estate agency Equity3 LLC.

McCarthy was speaking at the open house event for The Annex, the close to 88,000-square-foot planned attachment to the already well-reviewed Building 78. Building 78 is a part of a collection of coworking and flexible-use office space on over 100 acres of land in South Kearny known as Kearny Point.

But when you walk from the crowded halls of startups into the unfinished Annex, a 100-year-old steel crane that was used to make ships for the U.S. in World War I and II dominates the landscape.

“At one point, they were making ships every 51 days,” said Rob Morris, Equity3 president.

The crane is set on two massive beams that helps support the integrity of the Annex’s structure. The visitor’s attention is immediately drawn to it.

“We’re continuing the renovated industrial look,” said Nick Shears, director of leasing at the New York City-based global leader in recycling, the Hugo Neu Corp.

Hugo Neu is the owner and redeveloper of Kearny Point. It partnered with Equity3 to fill the still-vacant spots in Building 78 and the spots to come in the unfinished Annex.

“We’re retaining historical features like the craneways, and we’re keeping two of the original steel cranes that are almost 100 years old,” Shears said.

They’re also keeping the polished concrete floors and the saw-tooth roof, which he said was created so natural light could flood into the space while people were working. Shears said the tall ceilings will help with this, too.

“Design is a huge factor for people when they come here. They’ve never seen anything like this before, especially in New Jersey, and we’re proud of that,” he said.

But, while Equity3 and Hugo Neu want to maintain the industrial atmosphere, they have a different idea in mind for the tenants.

“So, one of the goals of the landlord is to eventually replace the industrial tenants that we have right now with more environmentally friendly uses,” McCarthy told ROI-NJ.

It’s the environmental sensitivity of the landlord, he said. And it’s been driven home to them.

“I wouldn’t say that there will not be industrial tenants, but the kind of industrial tenants that we attract will be environmentally friendly and -focused,” McCarthy said.

But, with this common denominator of environmentalism comes a greater sense of community.

“I guaranteed if you were trying to make yourself a coffee (in one of the communal kitchens) and couldn’t figure it out, someone’s going to see you and offer to help,” he said.

And Shears said that collaborative environment goes way beyond that, from a community Facebook group to shared workout sessions on the roof and a buildingwide event every week. There are even companies in the building that have collaborated on projects together.

“Two of our tenants, C&S Wholesale Grocers and Babo, came together and created a joint venture partnership,” Shears said. “They met here.”

He said people have hired one another within the building for work through the Facebook page.

Equity3 and Hugo Neu said The Annex will consist of new high-tech flex office space for lease starting at 1,500 square feet. The asking price for rent in The Annex is $35 per foot.

The space will total 87,934 rentable square feet with 283 workstations, 15 offices and 109 conference seats.

The developers broke ground on The Annex in January of this year and hope to cut the ribbon on the space by December this year or January of the next.

Businesses that start at or relocate there may be eligible for tax incentives and credits through the Opportunity Zone program.

Coworking space Business Energy to use NJ Ignite program to attract tenants

Since opening its doors in October 2018, Business Energy, a coworking and networking community, has had more than a dozen startup companies move to its site in Westfield.

The workspace has now added the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s NJ Ignite Program to its roster of tools to attract more tenants.

The program offers rent support to startups moving into coworking facilities.

“Entrepreneurial talent is one of New Jersey’s most precious commodities, and collaborative workspaces like Business Energy offer environments where this talent can thrive,” NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan said. “Through NJ Ignite, we are investing in founders, their startups and the future of New Jersey’s innovation ecosystem.”

Funding for NJ Ignite is provided by a combination of support from the NJEDA and the collaborative workspaces, with the NJEDA assuming up to six months’ rent and the workspace covering rent for half the length of NJEDA’s commitment.

“In the short time that Business Energy has been in Westfield, we’ve already created an atmosphere that brings together small business owners and entrepreneurs from within the community, and it created an environment for sharing, learning and inspiration,” Steve Silverman, partner at Business Energy, said. “We see NJ Ignite as instrumental to our continued growth and look forward to adding companies from new sectors to our community of entrepreneurs.”

Current tenants at Business Energy include a startup that helps people get organized, a technology company, a media services consulting firm, attorneys and several other businesses.

“Business Energy is a motivating place for local entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, right here in downtown Westfield,” Matt Jarecki, partner at Business Energy, said. “We’re so excited to support growing leaders to give them a place to focus, connect and thrive.”

Gibbons’ Sostowski inducted as president of NAWL

Gibbons P.C. announced Friday that Kristin D. Sostowski, a director in the firm’s Employment & Labor Law Department, was inducted as president of the National Association of Women Lawyers.

NAWL appointed Sostowski at its Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon, held Thursday at the Grand Hyatt New York.

Sostowski has been active in NAWL for more than a decade. As president, she will help develop and support research and programming that address the organization’s mission of advancing both women in the legal field and women’s rights under the law.

“As NAWL’s founders have taught us, we can truly advance in this profession only when we achieve broader equality, and we must not rest until we do,” Sostowski said in her induction speech.

“Given her longstanding commitment to the promotion of women in the profession, Kristin has already had an incredible, positive impact on the legal community at large,” Patrick C. Dunican Jr., chairman and managing director of Gibbons, said. “In her new, well-earned leadership position with NAWL, she will no doubt help the organization, its members, and women attorneys nationwide to achieve new heights.”

In addition to NAWL, Sostowski has served as a trustee of the New Jersey Women Lawyesr Association since 2008. At Gibbons, she practices employment litigation and counseling, representing New Jersey and national employers in a variety of industries.

N.J. firm shares in $2.3M EPA environmental tech funding

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday it has awarded $2.3 million in funding to 21 small businesses to develop environmental technologies that will help protect human health.

Parsippany-based Brisea Group Inc. will receive $100,000 in the first phase of funding to help develop a microwave-assisted membrane for pretreatment of PFAS — certain chemical substances — in industrial wastewater.

“These funds support small businesses that have developed new technologies to monitor air quality, test for PFAS and address other pressing environmental challenges,” Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the EPA, said. “Through EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research program, we provide important assistance to entrepreneurs as they develop innovative solutions that will strengthen both environmental protections and economic growth.”

“EPA is fostering innovation and improving people’s health and the environment,” Pete Lopez, regional administrator for the EPA, said. “This program is helping advance technologies like the Brisea Group Inc.’s system, which is designed to reduce or eliminate PFAS discharged from industrial sources and prevent them from flowing into our waters.”

Each of the 21 businesses will get Phase I contracts from the EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research program, which awards contracts annually through a two-phase competition. Companies competed for a Phase I award of up to $100,000 by submitting research that addressed key environmental issues. Once companies get their first award, they are eligible to compete for a Phase II award of up to $300,000 to further develop the technology.

To be edible for the award, a company must be an organized, for-profit U.S. business and have less than 500 employees.

JLL closes sale of University Square in Princeton

JLL announced Friday it has closed on the sale of University Square, a five-story, 300,000-square-foot office building in Princeton.

The sale also includes an adjacent one-story, 33,600-square-foot building at 115 Campus Drive, JLL said.

Jose Cruz, Andrew Scandalios and Kevin O’Hearn, senior managing directors at JLL; Stephen Simonelli and Michael Oliver, senior directors; and J.B. Bruno, associate; represented the sellers, RXR Realty and the Blackstone Group, and procured the buyer, New York City-based Argent Ventures.

University Square offers amenities including a two-story atrium lobby, gourmet cafeteria, large media/conference room, fitness center, and more.

Located on 18.5 acres, the property is within close access to Route 1 and downtown Princeton, as well as the Princeton Junction train station.

“The quality of University Square along with its location and tenant line up brought investors from all over the country,” Cruz said. “We are seeing many more buyers for suburban office product these days as attractive current going in yields and upside in the leasing continue to drive interest.”

Financial terms were not disclosed.

One of N.J.’s biggest firms just bought naming rights to Rutgers’ stadium … but do you know its name? Stadium is no more, as Rutgers University’s football stadium has a new name and, with it, a new partner.

And that partner may be one of the biggest companies in the state you’ve never heard of.

Rutgers announced Friday its new multiyear naming-rights partnership with SHI International Corp., a Somerset-based information technology solutions firm that has some 4,000 employees around the globe and upwards of $10 billion in revenue.

The agreement will name the 52,454-seat venue, which serves as home to Rutgers football and men’s and women’s lacrosse, SHI Stadium (pronounced using its initials “S.H.I.”).

The Rutgers Department of Intercollegiate Athletics said the school will host its first sporting event at the newly-named stadium on Aug. 30, when the Scarlet Knights celebrate their history as the “Birthplace of College Football” and the sport’s 150th anniversary.

“This partnership formalizes the strong bond that has existed between Rutgers and SHI for almost 30 years,” SHI International CEO and President Thai Lee said. “Nearly 350 Rutgers alumni currently work at SHI, and more of our employees earned their degree at Rutgers than any other single college or university. With deep roots in New Jersey and influence felt around the globe, both SHI and Rutgers share a history, culture and commitment to excellence that will make this partnership especially rewarding.”

“As the State University of New Jersey, we are thrilled to partner with SHI,” Pat Hobbs, director of athletics at Rutgers, said. “Headquartered right here in Somerset, SHI proudly embraces its strong Rutgers ties. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of college football here at the ‘Birthplace,’ we are delighted to partner with a company that shares in our relentless pursuit of excellence. This partnership will positively impact athletics, the university and the New Jersey community.”

Under the deal, SHI will receive brand exposure through signage in and around the stadium, including on the scoreboard, campus directional signage and logo placement on the field. Additionally, SHI will receive promotion through a variety of print, digital, radio and television assets.

NJ Advance Media reported that the deal is for seven years, starting at $1.25 million in 2019 and increasing by $100,000 each year, to $1.85 million in 2025.

In addition to its Somerset headquarters, SHI has a major integration center in Piscataway.

Rutgers, which debuted the first college football game in 1869, began playing in Piscataway at the Old Rutgers Stadium in 1938. Rutgers Stadium was then built on the site of the Old Rutgers Stadium in 1994. The stadium was expanded in 2009.

Read more from ROI-NJ:

Christie’s Int’l. Real Estate expands North Jersey affiliate

Christie’s International Real Estate, the real estate arm of Christie’s, announced Wednesday its Northern New Jersey affiliate has expanded further into the state and will begin operating as Christie’s International Real Estate Northern New Jersey.

The company also said owner Ilija Pavlovic also recently expanded under CIRE in Westchester and Hudson Valley, New York.

Since 2017, Pavlovic has opened 11 brokerages and currently serves clients in Bergen, Morris, Somerset, Passaic, Hudson, Warren, Union, Essex and Sussex counties as well as northern Hunterdon county.

“My responsibility is to entrust our branded brokerages to those proven most capable of being a standard-bearer for the esteemed Christie’s brand,” Dan Conn, CEO of Christie’s International Real Estate, said. “Ilija not only embraces our corporate culture, but has successfully leveraged its marketing power by participating in Christie’s and other lifestyle events to the full benefit of his real estate clients. I am excited to see the Northern New Jersey market flourish under Ilija’s leadership.”

In January 2018, CIRE opened its first brokerage in New York City, serving clients in the Tri-State area, including northern New Jersey.

“I am delighted for the opportunity to deliver to our customers the next level of service and the ultimate Christie’s experience,” Pavlovic said. “This new venture sets us apart in our reach in the tri-state metro area, and represents a further assurance that our home sellers and buyers of all price points are receiving the highest industry standards in brokerage service.”

Colliers arranges $19.5M sale of Hamilton office portfolio

A two-building office portfolio in Hamilton has sold for $19.5 million, according to real estate services firm Colliers International Group Inc.

The buildings at 5 and 8 Commerce Way total more than 120,000 square feet in the Princeton submarket, Colliers said in a news release.

The properties are 95% occupied by tenants including the state of New Jersey, GSA Mid-Atlantic Region, Lumber Liquidators and more.

A Colliers team from the New Jersey office represented both the buyer and seller in the deal, neither of which was disclosed.

The team included Jacklene Chesler, executive managing director, Matthew Brown, managing director, and Frank Summers, senior financial analyst.

Why Gibbons was eager to increase its participation in VOICE Summit

As a longtime steward of Newark, Gibbons P.C. was more than happy to get involved in the inaugural VOICE Summit last summer.

“When Pete Erickson decided Newark was the place to establish the VOICE conference, we saw it as an incredible step for them to take,” Mark Kuehn, counsel in the firm’s corporate department and director of corporate business development, said. “We’re proud of our connection to Newark and feel very fortunate to be anchored in Newark, so we knew what it meant.

“For folks outside the New Jersey, New York and the Northeast corridor, coming to Newark is probably not something they think about. Now, they do think about it and we’re honored to be a part of it and a part of that brand.”

Gibbons’ connection to the event, which will take place next Monday-Thursday on the campus of New Jersey Institute of Technology, is even greater this year.

In addition to having six panelists — Kelly Ann Bird, Frank Cannone, Robert Coyne, Robert Johnson, Robert Rudnick and Steven Sholk — Gibbons will host, at its offices in One Gateway Center, the official welcoming center for visitors arriving at Penn Station and Newark Liberty International Airport.

Representatives of Newark Happening, an arm of the Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau, will direct attendees to Gibbons’ headquarters, where they will have access to docking stations and charging stations, as well as food and drink.

Cannone said the firm was eager to increase its relationship with the event.

“Last year’s event showcased Newark and showed how it is an anchor for technology, particular voice technology, with Audible there,” he said. “We view this conference as an industry-leading event. We thought it was such a wonderfully well-done event last year that we wanted to be even more involved this year.”

Gibbons certainly hopes its involvement goes beyond hospitality.

Cannone, the chair of firm’s corporate practice, said so many of the firm’s assets work well with those attending the event.

“We’re a firm that promotes (entrepreneurial) thinking — and emerging growth tech is an important part of that,” he said. “And it comes out not only on the corporate side, but also from our Intellectual Property Department. We have one of the leading IP groups in the area for trademark, patent and copyright, which lends itself to the tech community.

“This is something we’ve been involved in for a while and it’s something that we want to promote and educate more of the community about our depths in the area.”

That depth leaves the state, too.

Cannone said the event’s international flavor — attendees are expected from more than two dozen countries — fits Gibbons’ multinational work, too.

“I humbly say, I don’t believe anybody in New Jersey has a cross-border practice like we do,” he said. “We represent major international institutions routinely for their work in the U.S., and that lends itself to emerging growth technology from overseas that are looking to expand within the voice industry.

“We have 30 lawyers who are fluent in 10 languages in which we transact business.”

Kuehn, the founding chairman of ACG New Jersey and well-known for his work in the entrepreneurial space, said he is thrilled the event is another way Newark is rebranding itself as a center for business.

“We’re fortunate to be an anchor of the Newark community and the expanding economic community here,” he said.

Read more from ROI-NJ:

Is Newark good (and inexpensive) place to put company HQ? This study says, ‘Yes’

How does Newark rate for companies seeking a new headquarters?

Pretty high. At least that was the take of The Boyd Co., a Princeton-based site selection firm.

When it comes to annual operating costs of $22.1 million, Newark was fourth-lowest among the 25 cities ranked — and the lowest of the 12 U.S. companies ranked.

The costs were based on a facility occupying 75,000 square feet of Class A office space and employing at least 250 nonexempt workers.

According to The Boyd Co., the annual operating costs in Newark are $22.1 million, compared with the top U.S. city, San Francisco, at $28.5 million.

John Boyd Jr., principal of The Boyd Co., said the location of headquarters offices is now in play like never before.

“As companies continue to examine their bottom line in response to global competition and uncertainties in the economy, their focus is increasingly turning to the remaining piece of the restructuring pie: the corporate headquarters,” Boyd said. “For good reason, the corporate headquarters is the ‘holy grail’ of business attraction, given the prestige, human capital and the economic and philanthropic stimulus a new head office can bring to a city like Newark.

“Make no mistake about it, corporate headquarters mobility is not going unnoticed by mayors, governors and economic development foot soldiers around the country.”

Boyd also emphasized the potential social impact of corporate business coming into Newark and providing a transformative number of jobs.

“With the highest unemployment and poverty rates, the second-lowest median income and largest concentrations of people of color of all the 20 finalist HQ2 cities, Newark would be in a position to award a relocating company a very significant social standing boost,” he said.

“Social impact is meaningful, as corporations increasingly focus on building their brand and currying the favor of a socially conscious millennial workforce, not to mention, generating goodwill among lawmakers looking for a social good to rationalize incentives.”

The report said cost is only one of many variables in Newark’s favor.

Crucial factors that made Newark a finalist for Amazon’s second headquarters search last year remain in place, led by a highly skilled talent base of people who already live throughout New Jersey and the surrounding New York metropolitan area. A company moving into Newark would not have to relocate a large workforce.

Newark also offers corporations access to a wide range of employees from diverse backgrounds. The city is one of the few nationally that is directly accessible through air, rail and water.

In addition, Newark has a strong technological infrastructure, including an intricate fiber-optic network that has proven invaluable to corporations that are already based in Newark, including Prudential, Panasonic of North America, Audible, Broadridge Financial Solutions and, soon, Mars Wrigley.

Newark Alliance CEO Aisha Glover said the report is another potential point in the city’s recruitment.

“The collective community of Newark sees this as an opportune time for the city’s future,” Glover said. “We want to make sure we are incorporating the hard data from third parties like The Boyd Co. into our day-to-day activities as we communicate Newark’s messages to potential corporate partners.”

Here is a ranking of the cities included in the study (with operating costs, in millions):

  1. Hong Kong ($38.1)
  2. San Francisco ($28.5)
  3. Stockholm ($28.4)
  4. Zurich ($28.3)
  5. New York ($28.0)
  6. Tokyo ($27.2)
  7. San Jose ($26.7)
  8. Brussels ($25.7)
  9. Paris ($25.7)
  10. Oakland ($25.6)
  11. London ($25.2)
  12. Boston ($25.2)
  13. Washington ($25.1)
  14. Sydney ($24.3)
  15. Milan ($24.2)
  16. Los Angeles ($24.2)
  17. Stamford ($24.1)
  18. Chicago ($23.6)
  19. Osaka, Japan ($23.6)
  20. Orange County, Calif. ($23.6)
  21. Frankford, Delaware ($22.8)
  22. Newark ($22.2)
  23. Shanghai ($20.0)
  24. Madrid ($18.7)
  25. Singapore ($17.3)