Onyx Equities, hoping to capitalize on corporate moves to suburbs, buys 10-property portfolio in Morris County from Mack-Cali for $160M (UPDATED)

Chief investment officer: ‘Our goal is to continue to attract tenants already in the suburbs and also potential relocations out of New York City’

7 Sylvan Way in Parsippany. (Onyx Equities)

Will companies in New York be looking for more office space in New Jersey due to the impact COVID-19 has had on the workspace? Onyx Equities appears to be making that bet.

On Wednesday, Onyx — along with partners Taconic Capital Advisors L.P., Axonic Capital LLC and Machine Investment Group — announced it has acquired a 10-building, 1.5 million-square-foot office portfolio in Morris County from Mack-Cali Realty Corp.

On Thursday, Mack-Cali said the purchase price was approximately $160 million.

The portfolio consists of nine buildings in Parsippany and one building in Madison. The purchase adds to Onyx’s already diverse base of office holdings throughout the state of New Jersey.

The 10 properties are:

  • 1, 3, 5 and 7 Sylvan Way in Parsippany;
  • 4, 6 and 8 Campus Drive in Parsippany;
  • 2 Dryden Way in Parsippany;
  • 2 Hilton Court in Parsippany;
  • 1 Giralda Farms in Madison.

Onyx acquired Mack Cali’s Bergen County office portfolio in 2018 and announced the acquisition of three of the four Gateway buildings in January 2019.

The deal is one of the largest office transactions since the beginning of the pandemic. John Saraceno, managing principal at Onyx, said the firm was not slowed by the times.

“Historically, Onyx has completed some of our most complicated transactions in difficult economic climates, and closing during COVID-19 certainly provided some unique challenges,” he said. “Special thanks to the effort of the Onyx and Mack-Cali teams for never giving up and finding a path to get this transaction closed.”

“This transaction is exemplary of Mack-Cali’s broader strategic vision moving forward,” MaryAnne Gilmartin, Mack-Cali’s interim CEO, said Thursday in a statement. “As we look to focus on our waterfront assets in Hudson County, we will continue to divest of noncore assets in the suburban office markets and build long-term value for our shareholders.”

Stephen Sullivan, the chief investment officer at Onyx, said the buildings will be updated and then marketed to tenants looking for high-quality buildings that are easily accessible to major highways and in close proximity to urban downtowns.

“We look forward to implementing our typical value-add capital improvement business plan in order to upgrade assets that we already feel are some of the best in Morris County,” he said. “Our goal is to continue to attract tenants already in the suburbs and also potential relocations out of New York City who desire both a superior product and the best locations.”

Onyx officials said its suburban office portfolio includes a diverse base of office buildings in New Jersey, Westchester County and Long Island.  Onyx is one of the largest office landlords in New Jersey and the largest landlord in Bergen County.

JLL facilitated the transaction.