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Real Estate Innovators Ready to Unveil Refurbished Complex

Normandy Real Estate Partners in talks for leasing at 178 Liberty Corner Road

A $12 million rennovation project is nearly complete at the former Alcatel-Lucent offices in Warren's Center 78 office development, just nine months after Normandy Real Estate Partners acquired the property.

The work includes updating the interior spaces, with a new entry façade, expanded lobby atrium, new bathrooms and elevators. The building will also include a cafeteria, a conference center, and a fitness center for use by future tenants. Landscaping throughout the complex, and new signage on Liberty Corner Road will also be done.

"The building is going to deliver LEED certification when completed," Normandy Senior Vice President Paul Teti said, noting plans call for new HVA systems and a rooftop solar array.

The Morristown-based company expects to have the first phase of the work done by the end of September—which will be followed by further improvements to leased space meeting tenants' requirements. According to Normandy COO Yorgi Vlamis, those expenditures could reach as much as an additional $20 million.

The Warren project is representative of the properties Normandy seeks out, according to Vlamis: the 371,000 square foot structure was underused, in need of rennovation—and purchased by Normandy at favorable costs through the company's purchase of debt owed by the property's former owners.

But on the plus side, the building is ideally situated off I-78 and near other corporate centers.

The combination gives Normandy prime commercial real estate at "a good basis," Vlamis said, which translates into easier leasing.

"We prefer to buy 'broken,' then fix it," he added.

Normandy has been successful using this combination of advantageous purchasing and aggressive rennovation to turn around commercial properties to build a portfolio topping $1.5 billion in just a decade.

But it's been a decade of real estate upheaval, and the company's vertical integration and shrewd purchasing has helped Normandy turn around such high-profile projects as Boston's 60-story John Hancock Tower, or more recently, an office tower at 1370 Broadway in New York.

"Again, a building that is extremely well-located and needing some investment," Teti said of the Broadway building. 

Teti said the company is engaged in negotiations with some potential clients for Warren's Center 78, but said it is "premature" to discuss the areas under discussion or the tenants.

When completed, the project is likely to become another of Warren's—and Normandy Real Estate's—premier office spaces.

"This building a a very good example of what Normandy does very well," Teti said.

Josephine August 30, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Did we also give them the same tax breaks we gave all the preceding companies as each time the same property is purchased by someone else? Which is outrageous. It's better to have occupied buildings and well maintained, but at the same time the tax rebates on the properties, as with other commercial real estate, is not giving the proportionate amount of property taxes to the townships. If this information is incorrect, please correct me.
John Patten August 30, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Josephine--Thank you for raising a good point. I'll check to see if there were any rebates, but since the property was built already, I don't think any programs would have been applicable. Also, since it's been largely empty, I'm sure the assessment has been reduced—I will follow up with the tax assessor to find out.

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