As employees settle in, prospects for Prudential Tower to become a center of gravity in its new neighborhood

With this summer’s completion of the new Prudential Tower downtown Newark, West Park Street is again drivable, the sidewalk across from Military Park is newly unobstructed by construction barriers, and 1,900 employees find themselves clocking into spanking new digs every morning.

For employees, the 20-story Prudential Tower is simply a new office. But there’s a little more to the tower than meets the eye in terms of its larger impact on the neighborhood says Richard Hummers, a Prudential executive who oversaw the project during the entirety its four-year arc from conception to completion. (The $444 million project received a nearly $211 million tax credit based on its estimated benefit as a job creation and retention engine in the area.)

“For us, building the new tower wasn’t just about solving a real estate and capacity problem,” Hummers said earlier this week, while sitting in a conference room at nearby Prudential Plaza alongside his colleague, Lata Reddy, vice president of corporate responsibility and president of the Prudential Foundation. Prudential Plaza remains the company’s headquarters, and is located two blocks south of its gleaming, translucent new cousin.

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The “Shoppes on Broad” will feature street-level retail and restaurants.

Hummers said the project team also considered how the building site could fundamentally alter its surroundings. “We chose a site that could transform” its broader neighborhood in Newark, he said. Built on a long-blighted stretch of Broad Street, the new tower is positioned to do just that.

First, said Hummers, together with Prudential Plaza and a third Prudential building on Washington Street, the new tower creates something of a campus for its 6,000 Newark employees, but without being walled off from the rest of downtown. Hummers said “constant interaction” among Prudential employees in all three buildings creates more pedestrian traffic. That not only benefits businesses that are currently and soon-to-be located downtown, but also adds vibrancy to the neighborhood, he said.

The towers also add continuity along Broad Street. Together with the newly renovated Military Park and the in-progress renovation of the Hahnes building, both of which Prudential helped finance, the building addresses a significant gap in activated spaces along downtown Newark’s primary artery.

The project’s planners also added some architectural and design elements that consider the pedestrian experience. Prudential Tower features a parking deck that runs from Broad to Halsey Streets along New Street. Parking garages often make for imposing structures, but “the walk from Rutgers to Military Park shouldn’t feel like you’re passing through a dark cavern,” said Hummers. The solution: vertical green space lines the garage wall facing New Street by way of planters filled with greenery. “We wanted to make these spaces feel inviting,” Hummers explained.

Prudential Tower planters

Planters line the parking garage exterior along New Street. Across the street, the Hahne’s building under construction.

The same goal animated the developers’ decision to install a “green wall” standing 55 feet high on the opposite side of the garage. The varying shades of the plants that comprise the wall, which architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates designed, form a mural inspired by the lower righthand section of Prudential’s “Rock of Gibralter” logo.

Unlike the Hahne’s building, which will be mixed-use, Prudential’s new building is strictly an office tower, intended for its employees and for company-sponsored events. And it is those employees, said Reddy, who will be the primary vectors of the company’s interaction with its broader neighborhood.

Some of those interactions will be organized by Prudential, as with a recent youth-geared community service outing to Military Park.

But on a day-to-day basis, both Reddy and Hummers said, they’ll involve employees’ engagement with area social life and businesses, and vice versa.

green wall prudential

Prudential Tower’s “green wall” mural draws from the company’s “Rock of Gibraltar” logo.

To help facilitate this, Prudential invited owners and managers from neighborhood restaurants, including Burger Walla, Nico, Dinosaur Barbecue, Duke’s Southern Table, Green Chicpea and BURG, the new burger and beer restaurant soon to launch in Military Park, to a “Community Partners Reception” and tasting on the building’s rooftop in early August. And while the tower’s construction caused a significant tightening of foot traffic along the north Halsey Street corridor, businesses are already seeing a surge in customers now that Prudential employees have moved in. All told, the building can accommodate up to 3,000 employees.

The “Shoppes on Broad” surrounding the towers will also be key locations of broader community interaction with the development. The shops will essentially extend the project onto the street level, and offer pedestrians retail and food options including a Blaze Pizza franchise and a reported Nike Factory store.

Taken together, these elements represent an “affirmative and intentional” push by the company to embed and integrate itself into its new neighborhood.


Prudential is planning a grand opening for the new towers on September 29th. Prudential Tower is located at 655 Broad Street in Newark.

Isabel Livingston: The ‘savvy’ behind Closet Savvy Consignment in Newark’s Teacher’s Village

Newark native Isabel Livingston is bringing high-end, designer fashion to Newark in the form of her store, Closet Savvy Consignment.

The shop, which is located in Newark’s Teachers Village, offers a carefully selected inventory of designer items, including brands like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton. Livingston and her daughter, college student Asata Evans, founded the store in 2012 as an online retail business.

“When my daughter was a junior in high school, it became time to consider college. Tuition and costs became very real numbers, and we realized how unprepared we were. So we decided to go into business,” said Livingston.

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A scene from Closet Savvy Consignment’s Instagram feed

With the goal to bring an extra $10,000 dollars into her home, Livingston purged her designer-laden closet and began Closet Savvy on a self-hosted website. She embarked on the occasional pop-up shop setup when the opportunity presented itself.

Over $10,000 and 10,000 Instagram followers later, Livingston saw the potential in converting the business into a brick-and-mortar store, and eventually launched the cozy and chic boutique in the new development on the south end of Halsey Street.

Livingston said social media created a built-in audience that has benefited the shop since opening day. “Having the time to have built up that social media following made all the difference,” Livingston said. “Without 10,000 people being able to see my stuff everyday and just opening my door to the world, this could have been a completely different situation for me.”

To be sure, in addition to now being a physical store, Closet Savvy is still a thriving social movement. Livingston’s followers talk about everything from the store’s latest designer products to natural hair trends to pop culture. The social platform has also powered Livingston’s buying reach, with Closet Savvy offering customers the opportunity to purchase products directly from the store’s page for an added shipping fee.

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While the social media activity adds dimension to her brand for followers well outside of the city, Livingston says the store itself provides a carefully considered experience for the nearby shoppers who venture in. Walking into the store, it’s clear to see what Livingston is referring to. With a Chanel-embossed drink tray, monogrammed Louis Vuitton trunks stacked against the wall, and Beyoncé blaring from the speakers, Closet Savvy is a dream experience for shoppers in her demographic.

“When you shop with a woman, you’re really on an intimate level. You get to see how she really feels about herself,” Livingston mused. (Closet Savvy also offers a selection of men’s apparel.)

“Women come in here as total strangers, and by the time they leave, we’ve bonded. They leave here promising to come back, and you can’t get that online. People come here, and it really is an authentic experience.”


Closet Savvy is located at 35 Maiden Lane, just off Halsey Street in downtown Newark. The shop is open from Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Shop online here, and visit their thriving Instagram community @ClosetSavvyConsignment.

Images courtesy Closet Saavy Consignment.

 

Mr. Adams Steakhouse unveils riverfront experience with new patio extension

First a new rooftop bar. Now a riverfront patio. With the unveiling of rodizio steakhouse and sports bar Mr. Adams‘ new river-facing patio, a Newark establishment is once again offering some experiential variety to area patrons.

The patio is the latest in a series of upgrades that Mr. Adams, formerly Rio21, has undergone since around the time of its name and ownership change in late 2013. Before those improvements, the establishment comprised its current dining room, its current side bar, and not much else. Management has since converted what were once offices and rentable conference areas into a large, square bar complete with ten flat-screen televisions, booth seating with personal beer taps, and an open space on the south end of the restaurant where a DJ occasionally sets up and spins.

Now enter the riverfront patio. The new outdoor dining and bar area went head-to-head with a basement nightclub for consideration as the establishment’s next big undertaking. Looking to take advantage of the warm months, Mr. Adams’ principals chose the patio, said manager Andrew Ferreira. The bottom-level nightclub is slated to launch next summer.

The patio itself offers a panoramic view of the Passaic River, a full bar with six beers on tap, two flat screen televisions against the bar’s back wall, which is made of unfinished pine, and a bar menu for dining. Four chandeliers made of Coors Light, Bud Light, Corona, Super Bock, Stella Artois, and Sam Adams Summer Ale beer bottles grace the patio covering. (The chandeliers arrived the day of the patio’s July 16th opening on order from Etsy, said Ferreira, and employees had quite a time “emptying” some of the bottles so they could assemble the chandeliers ahead of the unveiling.)

mr. adams beer chandaliers

Visitors should keep in mind that the patio sits on an undeveloped stretch of the Passaic River, and the vistas in the middle distance feature some of New Jersey’s most characteristic industrial topography. The bar itself doesn’t directly abut the river: it is Mr. Adams’ lower parking lot that actually connects the base of the patio area with the Passaic waterfront.

Still, the patio’s considerable height over that lot offers a clear shot of a river that varies from lightly streaming to mildly rolling. The view is unobstructed by tall buildings, making for a decent look at airplane landings and, if one’s visit is well-enough timed, a lovely evening sky as the sun sets opposite the east-facing river view. All in all, the extension adds welcome variety of scenery and atmospherics to the dining and drinking options here in town.

mr. adams tableau

Bartender Jasmine said the patio has seen nice-sized crowds for the 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekday happy hour as awareness of the extension has grown, and added that the new area, which can accommodate 80 people in its dining area and eight comfortably seated at the bar, was packed for the Ronda Rousey UFC rout in the wee hours of this past Sunday morning.

Ferreira said the patio will be open at least through September, and that management is considering adding a glass enclosure and heat lamps in order to extend patio availability deeper into the fall months.


Mr. Adams is located at 1034 McCarter Highway. Follow Mr. Adams on Facebook and Instagram.

Pro tips

  • To enter the patio, park in the north lot (just past the steakhouse on approach from the northbound side of McCarter Highway/Route 21) and walk to the stairway in the direction of the Passaic River, opposite the road.
  • Device battery power low? There are in-floor outlets between the first and second tables, and underneath the fourth, counting back from the bar on the river side of the dining area.
  • On tap as of this publishing: Bud Light, Stella Artois, Goose Summer Ale, Landshark, Shock Top Lemon Shandy, and Hoegaarden.

With Indian-infused burger joint, Newark economic development pro builds the type of business he once tried to attract

Check out our Halsey Street story map for more articles and previews in this series, and stay tuned to Facebook, Twitter, and our homepage for updates on new stories.

It’s mid-November in Newark, and Kai Campbell is getting ready to realize a dream: the opening of his and his wife Tamara’s new burger joint on his beloved Halsey Street.

That makes Campbell, a third generation Newarker, just the latest small business owner to launch a venture on Halsey Street, a corridor that, thanks in part to its prime location sandwiched just east of University Heights and west of Broad Street, has become a hub of downtown redevelopment.

“It was always my intent to save where I’m from,” said Campbell in an interview conducted in late October, as he oversaw construction at Burger Walla, the Campbells’ unique burger spot. Burger Walla opened its doors to the public with a soft launch on December 2.

Campbell, 33, is a University of Virginia graduate who has spent much of his post-collegiate life trying to bring big businesses to his hometown. He’s held several economic development jobs with the city, and was also was the former Senior Associate of Real Estate for Brick City Development Corporation. “I’ve met with every major retailer you can think of,” he said of his quest to bring business to the city.

Now he’s bringing business in a different way — by launching one himself. Along with his wife, Campbell also runs NewarkPulse.com, a local website that mainly focuses on positive news stories in and around Newark. They’re a true family about Newark: in addition to publishing about the city and launching a business here, Campbell, his wife, and their toddler and newborn live in town, as well.

One factor that can make it tough to attract businesses to Halsey Street and downtown Newark, Campbell said, is that they see Rutgers and NJIT as commuter schools, and consequently assume the coveted student population does not venture past Washington Street. But Campbell thinks Halsey Street is a good investment, and that he can get students to consistently cross that invisible border. “This is the epicenter of where development can take off,” Campbell said.


Social media users review Burger Walla



Thus Burger Walla, an Indian-influenced burger joint that serves everything from beef burgers and flat grilled hot dogs to shrimp and chicken burgers infused with Indian spices. The restaurant also offers an Indian drink called a “lassi,” akin to a traditional milkshake. “Instead of using ice cream, we’re going to use yogurt,” said Campbell.

Why Indian-inspired fare?

For one, Campbell loves Indian food, and he believes others who haven’t yet tried it will love it too if they give it a chance. “People don’t know that they like Indian food,” he mused. “I think by me putting a twist on burgers, which everybody can recognize, I think they’ll be more receptive to Indian food,” he added.

Campbell said the restaurant’s Indian elements are authentic. “I’ve flown halfway around the world to go to a single Indian restaurant before,” he said. In addition, his wife Tamara Campbell is of Indian descent.

The menu is also infused with a couple tastes of New Jersey and the couple’s beloved Brick City: Best hot dogs, Boylan sodas (Best Provision recently celebrated its 75th anniversary in Newark; Boylan Bottling Company was born in New Jersey over a century ago.)

In addition to offering unique food, the Campbells are also looking to infuse their restaurant with a distinct culture fit for a popular neighborhood hangout spot. Campbell said he hopes Burger Walla’s ambiance will keep college students and other community members coming back. “Every Monday night we’re going to be showing independent films,” he said.  Along with the movie nights, they also plan to offer viewings of sports events, outdoor dining — weather permitting — and live music.


Find Burger Walla on Facebook and Twitter for updates on events, and check their website for the restaurant’s menu and blog.

 

Live auction of historic Tudor mansion in Newark’s Forest Hill neighborhood is under way

A public auction for the distinctive six thousand-square-foot, 8-bedroom, 4-bathroom Tudor mansion is underway now, and continues until the afternoon of Tuesday, August 19. The home is over 100 years old.

As of this publishing, bidding for the home is up to $390,000. The property, now in pre-foreclosure, had been sold three times in less than ten years before remaining in its current owner's possession for nearly eight. It sold for $267,000 in 1997; for $347,000 in 2001; for $530,000 in 2005; and for $750,000 in 2006.

According to real estate website Zillow, the mansion's value peaked at $858,000 at the beginning of 2009.

Interested bidders can see details and place bids on real estate website Hubzu.

Image: Hubzu.com