RBH Group announces $21M sale of industrial brownfield property in Newark

A brownfields property and industrial manufacturing facility in the Ironbound district of Newark that was successfully transformed into an environmentally safe, entrepreneurial and green manufacturing center that has generated hundreds of local jobs was recently sold for $21 million.

A Thursday announcement from RBH 212 Rome Real Estate and Makers Village QALICB LLC, subsidiaries of RBH Group, said the 69,000-square-foot commercial property located at 212 Rome St. was sold to an affiliate of Cabot Properties Inc.

RBH purchased the industrial property in 2014 and set out to make a positive social impact in redeveloping it into an industrial/commercial use that would minimize negative effects on the community, while maximizing economic and environmental benefit. RBH met with local residents and the Ironbound Community Corp. to understand concerns and interests in attracting and retaining “green” manufacturing to increase local employment and to promote economic development without increasing pollution and traffic in a neighborhood that is ideally located near highways, transit, the Port of New York and New Jersey, and Newark Liberty International Airport.

The property was fully leased to AeroFarms, the world’s largest indoor aeroponic farm, which operates its corporate headquarters and farm operations at the 212 Rome location. Cabot will continue to operate the facility as AeroFarms’ headquarters and indoor farm.

Marc Oshima, a co-founder and chief marketing officer at AeroFarms, said the sale has no impact on the company’s long-term plans to have Newark as its global headquarters.

RBH, the ICC and AeroFarms signed a memorandum of understanding in which the partners committed to attract and retain local, Newark residents as well as to train residents for good-paying jobs, including benefits, at the facility. As of today, AeroFarms has far surpassed that commitment.

RBH employed a public-private partnership approach to the financing of the project, securing a Community Development Block Grant from the city of Newark, $30 million in Federal New Market Tax Credits, state of New Jersey Grow New Jersey tax credits and Economic Recovery Growth Grants, tenant sources, private debt sources and private equity. RBH also assisted its tenant, AeroFarms, in securing tax credits and equity for the build-out of its headquarters, farm and expansions on the property.

Walker & Dunlop’s Thomas Walsh and Joseph Garibaldi were retained exclusively to arrange the sale on behalf of RBH Group to Cabot Properties.

The facility is located on a 3-acre former steel factory site in the center of the Ironbound community in Newark. It is adjacent to truck Route 1 and 9, a freight rail right of way, and to other industrial businesses along Rome and Christie Streets.