Romano: A Turnaround In Office Leasing Is Starting To Occur In NJ
FAIRFIELD, NJ - Joseph Romano is a co-principal with Jason Bogart of Accordia Realty, which has just completed seven leases for Greenbrook Executive Center in Fairfield, bringing the 203,000-square-foot building to 90% leased. Statewide, the office vacancy rate has been stuck over 20% for more than two years.
GlobeSt.com: How do you explain your success in keeping a 22-year-old office building in western Essex County nearly full in this climate?
Romano: We think it is paramount to have the best possible building in a marketplace. We are repeat winners of the TOBY (The Outstanding Building of the Year) award from the Building Owners and Managers Association for Greenbrook. We’ve invested $2 million in renovations and we constantly look for anything that is starting to age.
GlobeSt.com: Greenwood lost Grubb & Ellis as a tenant this year after bankruptcy and a takeover – but found other tenants quickly?
Romano: Pretty quickly. We think the office market is starting to turn around. After a three-year drought in leasing, companies are starting to make deals for space. Everyone was so uncertain which way the marketplace was going to go - and there were a lot of unrealistic expectations about fantastic deals that mostly didn’t materialize. Eventually, companies have to make deals.
GlobeSt.com: Are you seeing a trend to tenants taking less space-per-employee?
Romano: There is much denser use of space, as part the move across-the-board to whatever is most economical. At Greenbrook some tenants are increasing their space, and others who come to us are consolidating from a larger space.
GlobeSt.com: Who are the new tenants?
Romano: One of them is a local entrepreneur Jason Cohen, who has a new company,Rickland Orchards that makes Greek yogurt products. He previously had his headquarters here for the company that created the Sensible Portions snack brand, which he sold to Hain Celestial Group. Also, Woodmont Properties is going to relocate its headquarters here in order to grow its space. The Chadler Group (insurers) is relocating and so is Quadrant Capital Management. Synergy Professional Associates is opening an office.
GlobeSt.com: How about the in-house expansions?
Romano: Strategic Family Wealth Counselors is expanding by 6,000 square feet, andBleakley, Schwartz, Cooney & Finney, which has been a tenant for 15 years, is taking about 3,000 square feet additional.
GlobeSt.com: What is the plan for when the building does slide toward obsolescence?
Romano: We don’t think it will. The building has a timeless, class design. We’ve replaced the HVAC system to be energy-efficient, redone the lavatories, re-paved the parking lots. If a good building in a good location is maintained, it is always desirable to tenants.