On Jersey City waterfront, changes coming for venerable office building

On Jersey City waterfront, changes coming for venerable office building

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One of the first buildings in Jersey City's thriving waterfront office market is getting a $20 million makeover.

The 15-story property, known as 30 Montgomery Street, is undergoing major renovations thanks to a new capital investment by owners Onyx Equities LLC and Rubenstein Partners LP. When complete, they hope, the project will transform the interior and exterior of the roughly 40-year-old building, with upgrades including a new lobby, modernized systems and expanded ground-floor retail options.

“We’re trying to elevate the building, trying to upgrade its image and take it to much more of a (Class) A asset in downtown Jersey City,” said Jared Minatelli, Onyx Equities’ senior vice president for asset management. “In order to do that, everything needs to be upgraded.”

The 320,000-square-foot property is about 74 percent occupied. Woodbridge-based Onyx, which has had an ownership stake in the building since 2006, recently formed a new partnership with Rubenstein with the intention of modernizing the structure.

That project calls for a redone façade, including a $5 million investment to replace all 1,800 of the building’s windows, Minatelli said. The façade replacement is already about 75 percent complete, and the firms will soon start on the interior work.

Along with systems upgrades, its owners are adding about 1,300 square feet to the existing 6,200-square-foot ground-floor retail space by enclosing an existing “outdoor portico” that currently hangs over the street.

“The one thing about that area is it’s devoid of a lot of retail options, and we are located on one of the best corners in downtown Jersey City — a block away from Exchange Place, the PATH station, the light rail. All major bus routes drive by our building,” Minatelli said. “So we’re confident we’ll get some quality retailers down there.”

Another rendering of the makeover.
Another rendering of the makeover.

That will take place as Onyx and Rubenstein transform and double the size of the main lobby into a modern, two-story atrium.

The building is following a similar path as other Onyx properties, Minatelli said. The company has launched a similar renovation program at 211 Mount Airy Road in the Basking Ridge section of Bernards, the former Avaya corporate headquarters, as it has at buildings in White Plains and Long Island in New York.

In downtown Jersey City, Onyx and Rubenstein are seeking to capitalize on a market that saw a banner year in 2014. According to brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield, the Hudson waterfront recorded 1.4 million square feet of leasing activity for the year, its highest volume since 2001.

Such demand is largely why Minatelli said, “We see a lot of potential right now in downtown Jersey City and we want to take advantage of it.”

“We’ve got a building that caters very, very nicely to small tenants,” he said. “We’ve got tenants that are 1,000 square feet, and yet we can put together a block of space that’s 45,000 square feet, so we fit very nicely into a niche in downtown Jersey City.”

 

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