ROSELAND, N.J. - November 2, 2015 - National law firm Lowenstein Sandler has signed a long-term lease for 170,000 square feet at 56 Livingston Avenue in Roseland, N.J. Owned by joint venture partners Mountain Development Corp. (MDC) and Square Mile Capital (Square Mile), the property formerly served as the headquarters of Organon International, a pharmaceutical company acquired by Merck in 2009. MDC and Square Mile have repositioned the property for Class A tenancy.
David Simson, of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, represented the tenant in the transaction.
Lowenstein Sandler will be the marquee long-term tenant at the 433,945-square-foot building, set on a 56-acre campus. In collaboration with ownership, the space Lowenstein Sandler has leased will be custom developed to meet the firm's specifications. The firm is consolidating its New Jersey office and firm-wide administrative center into the new location and is scheduled to move to the property in 2017.
The property is one of the finest office buildings in the State. Originally developed by Prudential at the insurer's former corporate satellite campus, the building was later totally renovated as the U.S. headquarters of Organon International at a cost exceeding $50 million. MDC and Square Mile acquired the property from Merck in 2012 for $20 million.
"This is not just a deal. It's a collaboration. When we first saw 56 Livingston Avenue, we were struck by its size, scale, and quality of design," said Michael Seeve, MDC's president. "We knew it was the ideal corporate home for sophisticated tenants with unique needs unmet by ordinary space. Lowenstein is that kind of tenant, and we are working together to assure that we fill out the rest of the building with equally prestigious co-tenants."
Square Mile Principal Matthew Drummond added, "Clearly 56 Livingston Avenue is one of Northern New Jersey's finest office properties. Well located right on the I-280 corridor in a beautiful campus setting, it has already served two major companies very well, and the MDC/Square Mile venture has modernized and repositioned this irreplaceable asset to serve the top end of the market. As evidenced by the two leases now in place, 56 Livingston can easily accommodate both large and smaller space users from various industry sectors in an attractive multi-tenant environment. We recognized this when we decided to enter into this, our second venture with MDC, and we have great confidence in the ultimate success of this partnership."
Interiors of New Headquarters Custom Designed by Marner & Associates of NYC
The new Lowenstein offices, with interiors to be custom designed by Manhattan-based Marner & Associates, will create a fully branded building within a building, which features its own tree-lined "boulevard" dubbed Lowenstein Way, leading to Lowenstein's own private, grand entryway. Lowenstein will occupy the entire third floor as well as its own vertical townhouse. Under the terms of the lease, the landlord and tenant will share the cost of the renovation, as well as major upgrades to the building overall.
All spaces in the new amenity-packed office - from conference rooms, collaboration areas, coffee bars, exterior lounges and support areas to the gymnasium and the 400-seat cafeteria - will be designed to maximize both the natural light and beauty of the surrounding environment while emphasizing informal, collaborative spaces critical to Lowenstein's culture. State-of-the-art infrastructure, which includes a dedicated data center with a network operations center, communications network, top-level security and primary and secondary power systems, will assure that Lowenstein, like all of 56 Livingston's tenants, is operational 24/7.
"We're creating inviting, efficient and technology-rich offices here in a wooded natural environment," said Gary Wingens, chairman and managing partner of Lowenstein Sandler. "The space will reflect the intense energy and collaborative nature of our firm, which, along with the terrific amenity package, will certainly help us recruit and retain top talent," continued Wingens. "We learned an enormous amount from the recent expansion and remodeling of our Rockefeller Center offices, and we plan to bring much of that learning to New Jersey, while adapting it to the beauty of the local environment."
Tenant/Landlord Development Collaboration
MDC's experience in developing customized space for legal clients is reflected in its approach to the Lowenstein offices. "Our roots go deep within the legal industry," said Robert Lieb, MDC's chairman and CEO. "We are in a unique position to understand and deliver what high-level firms need." For example, MDC recently developed the new offices of Hill Wallack in Princeton. Lieb predicts that Lowenstein's move will lead the way for other top professional firms to cluster nearby. "The new Lowenstein space - truly a 22nd-century law office - will solidify Roseland's status as a center of the legal industry."
"As a developer, we see former corporate headquarters like this one as an opportunity to take an exceptional real estate asset and repurpose it to meet the needs of today's tenants. We're a collaborator and partner, not just a landlord," said Seeve. "In terms of size, the Lowenstein deal may rank as one of the top five leases in New Jersey in 2015."
David Simson, vice chairman/COO-NJ of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, calls the lease a win-win-win. "The tenant, the owners and the township all netted huge benefits," he said, "Lowenstein can consolidate their operations into great space offering their long-term vision and objectives, MDC and Square Mile can turn around a huge property and attract additional high-end tenants, and Roseland will retain its outstanding corporate presence."
Brown & Brown, the international insurance company, currently occupies 29,500 square feet at 56 Livingston Avenue. Mountain expects them and Lowenstein Sandler to be joined by other leading professional firms in the remaining 130,000 square feet of available space. Extensive upgrades, including renovations of the kitchen, cafe and event area, executive dining spaces, meeting rooms, fitness center, terraces, main entryway and lobby, are planned. In addition to a full package of high-end amenities, tenants will be supported by the building's state-of-the-art infrastructure.
About Mountain Development Corp.
Mountain Development Corp. (MDC) is a full-service real estate company with over 30 years of experience developing, acquiring, constructing, repositioning, managing, leasing and operating commercial property. MDC is an active acquirer of a broad range of opportunistic and value-added real estate investments capable of generating attractive, risk-adjusted returns for both its principals and equity partners. Active throughout the Northeast, MDC's accomplished staff includes in-house development, accounting, property management, construction, leasing and marketing professionals.
About Square Mile Capital Management LLC
Square Mile Capital Management LLC is a private investment firm based in New York that focuses on real estate and real estate-related opportunities, including both equity and debt investments on behalf of select institutional and private investors. Square Mile takes a value-oriented approach to its investment activities, with an emphasis on opportunities to acquire or capitalize assets or enterprises that are undervalued, overlooked, complex or mispriced.