Historic New Jersey Bell building in Newark sells for $16.5M

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on May 05, 2016

The historic former New Jersey Bell building in downtown Newark, which has been sold to a developer for $16.5 million.

 

NEWARK – Verizon's iconic downtown headquarters has been sold to a developer that plans to turn it into a modern high-rise apartment building.

The 20-story building at 540 Broad Street, known for its art-deco design, was sold to a company affiliated with New York-based L&M Development for $16.51 million, according to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. The board, which must approved the sale of any assets by Verizon or other utilities, signed off on the deal in January.

A source familiar with the deal said L&M plans to convert its 436,000-square feet into a residential tower.

Plans unveiled by Connecticut-based architectural firm Amara Associates indicate the building will undergo a wholesale renovation to create 246 units across 19 floors, and a basement complete with a gym, storage space and bowling lanes. The building's fourth floor is home to a Verizon switching station, which will continue to operate.

Built in 1929, the structure was initially home to the New Jersey Bell telephone company before being taken over by Verizon. While no larger than many other building in downtown Newark's skyline, it is widely known for its distinctive brick and sandstone façade, much of which is awash in orange lights after dark.

The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, meaning the National Park Service will also need to approve all renovation plans.

Verizon spokesman Raymond McConville confirmed the building's sale, but said he could divulge where existing jobs in the building will be relocated.

Verizon had a deal in place to sell the building for approximately $35 million in 2008, but eventually opted to stay after receiving more than $20 million in tax breaks from the state.

L&M owns several properties in the Newark area, including the former Hahne's department store building just a few hundred feet south of the Verizon property – where a Whole Foods is set to open as early as next year.

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