Barclays Buys Revamped Office Complex in North Jersey

By Keiko Morris Features Dow Jones Newswires

A joint venture that revamped a bland New Jersey office campus into a modern complex with an amenity building, a bike-share service and walking trails has sold the property to Barclays PLC.

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The venture of Rubenstein Partners L.P. and Vision Real Estate Partners closed the $69 million sale to banking giant Barclays, a tenant at The Crossings at Jefferson Park campus, at the end of May. Rubenstein and Vision bought the 500,000 square-foot property at 115 South Jefferson Rd. in Whippany for $25 million in 2012, said Stephen Card, a principal at Rubenstein.

A Barclays spokesman said in an email the company intends to redevelop the site in the coming years "to create a world-class campus for our technology, operations and functional teams in the U.S."

The joint venture of Rubenstein and Vision invested more than $10 million in improvements, including the creation of an 11,000 square-foot amenity building at the campus, where three top-tier office buildings are located. The amenity building houses a fitness center, cafe and conference center.

"When we started building the interior of the amenity center, we leased 145,000 square feet," Mr. Card said. "Once we committed to the amenity center, the leasing activity skyrocketed."

Rubenstein, a real-estate investment management company, has used a strategy of buying suburban office properties, making them over and then selling. The company has taken the idea of creating stand-alone amenity buildings to several of its other properties, including office complexes in Warren, N.J., Indianapolis and Atlanta.

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At the Whippany campus, the joint venture also tore down an industrial building on the campus to create a great lawn and plush landscaping.

The team installed a bike-sharing program and added a walking trail to connect to a local recreational trail known as Patriots' Path.

Although the New Jersey office market continues to struggle with vacancy rates above 20% and many companies are looking for urban settings to recruit workers, Mr. Card said there is still demand in the suburbs of New Jersey.

"You generate demand by giving high-level, high-quality products," Mr. Card said.

Write to Keiko Morris at Keiko.Morris@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 04, 2017 12:06 ET (16:06 GMT)