“Amazon HQ2 Bid Has Forced Every Single Broker to Take Newark Seriously”

NEWARK, NJ — In many headlines, the story generally goes that Newark’s HQ2 bid (more specifically, the positive reaction from Amazon) turned around the narrative for the famous, but often struggling, city. But for many local Newark developers and insiders, it solidified what many already knew – that Newark has been ripe for a major breakthrough for quite awhile. So the Newark HQ2 was quite the topic of discussion during the Special Luncheon Discussion: The Future of Newark from a Policy and Practical Point of View, Developer-Administration Point/Counterpoint at CapRE’s Newark Commercial Real Estate Summit in July. Below is a snippet of that conversation.

Simoncini: John, when you look at this, do you think that the market is responding to the impetus that Newark had to re-create itself, or do you feel like Newark is having to catch up and re-create itself in response to market demand?

John Saraceno Jr., Co­-Founder and Managing Principal, Onyx Equities, LLC: Look, I think that in most instances in the business world, it’s a herd mentality. So I think that each piece of the puzzle for the last fifteen years was another piece that started to shape the image of what that puzzle was going to look like.

John Saraceno, Jr., Co­-Founder and Managing Principal, Onyx Equities, LLC

But what happened was, in my personal opinion, that Amazon and the selection process validated to corporate real estate people and HR people throughout the country that Newark is not a place you need to be afraid of. It’s not a place that you can’t bring employees to. It’s not a place where money goes to die. It’s a place where you can actually do business and successfully build on the millennial story. I competed against that deal. We have a building in Morris Township. And I lost with half a smile, just a half a smile, when they killed me on that deal and took it to Ironside.

That moment was defining to me. To me, if anything singularly shifted my attention toward investments in Newark, that did it. Because if you look at the employee base that Mars is composed of, I toured those people. If there was a person over the age of 26 on that route, half of them could have been my children, and looking around, all of the HR people on that tour picked that project.

Kudos to that team for having the vision to do it. But I think that that deal, the Amazon HQ validation, has basically forced every single broker in this state, I don’t care if it’s a 50,000 square foot deal or 400,000 square foot deal, Newmark is forever at Newark. It is forever on the list. It will forever be considered for every large corporate apartment in this state going forward. And that was never the case, hell, three years ago. But the game is over. It’s, either get on or get off, because you’re going to miss it. It’s going right by you.

Continue the New Jersey Conversation. Check out our Upcoming Events. For earlier coverage of this panel, check out previous CapRE Insider Reports: