The transformation of Newark's second-tallest building (see the last two days' entries to this blog), from offices to luxury apartments, takes a big chunk of capacity
out of the office-space market
in Downtown Newark. At the same time, it signals to the real-estate world that Newark is safe
not just for daytime visits but also for late-nite and indeed 24-hour business and residency. Once that message gets out, continued development of suburban office campuses inaccessible to public transportation will become unnecessary, and businesses of many types can return to the convenient confines of New Jersey's greatest and most cultured city. That is good news for defenders of open space in this most densely populated of all the states.
The foto below shows the Raymond-Commerce Building centered in the skyline as seen from the Jackson Street bridge at the dawn of a new day. The luxury apartments in Downtown Newark into which that building is now being converted begin a new day for Newark, for residential real estate to be sure, but perhaps also for commercial real estate.
It is unusual for the tallest buildings of any American city today to be old, but both of Newark's two tallest buildings were built in the 1930s.
My friend Gaetano, who lives in the Ironbound, said some months ago that his company in Cranford was outgrowing its suburban space, and he suggested to management that they relocate to new digs in Newark. A few years ago, Prudential Financial decided to round up its dispersed North Jersey operations and bring them all together in Newark, for the economies and indeed synergies that such consolidation would entail. Good thinking. But, then, Prudential has, almost unarguably, been Newark's best friend in the corporate world.
Still, Prudential's world headquarters
here in Newark are in a relatively modest building, only third tallest in this mid-size city, and not ranked among even the 200 tallest buildings in the world
. As you can see from the foto below, it's a nice enuf little building, clad in white marble. But it's stubby. It should have been built two or three times as tall as it is.
By contrast, Prudential has built a bunch of much taller buildings all over the world most notably in Chicago (995 feet), Boston (750 feet), and Tokyo (520 feet). I find it very odd indeed that Prudential's world headquarters building is only 374 feet tall.
Indeed, even the Prudential entertained thoughts, decades before it built its current headquarters, of building a 45-story, ornate masonry HQ in the same "Romanesque Gothic" style as its old headquarters. (See the drawing at http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=103166
.) Prudential never did build that however, but instead erected a streamlined 24-story HQ in 1960.
If Prudential doesn't want to put its imprint on a new skyline for Newark, perhaps some ambitious megacompany will. Maybe Prudential's major competitors would delite in sliting Prudential in its own city by building really tall and exceptionally innovative and beautiful buildings all over Downtown Newark, dwarfing Prudential Plaza as to mock Prudential visually. Might that get Prudential's dander up high enuf to build a superskyscraper for Newark, tallest in the world?
Wouldn't that be something!
Alas, New Jersey has too long been the home of "Think Small". That's one reason I left in 1965, for Manhattan, and did not return until 2000, when Manhattan became oppressively overcrowded and expensive.
In the 1980s, an ambitious developer, Harry Grant, proposed a 121-story tower for Newark that would be the world's tallest building. The website http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=103094
shows an architectural rendering of it, along with this description:
- The Grant USA Tower was an extravaganza planned by now-bankrupt developer Harry Grant in the mid-1980's. Its promoters claimed it would become the tallest building, the tallest structure, and the tallest hotel in the world.
- Plans called for condominium offices up to the 100th floor, a 500-room hotel from floors 100-121, and a 21-story atrium at the very top.
- A green-gold glass facade was meant to symbolize New Jersey, the Garden State. More obvious symbolism was planned in the form of a golden eagle atop a flagpole displaying a huge American flag, and enormous letters "USA" emblazoned across the building's top.
I remember seeing a model of that building in its city setting in a case perhaps six feet square in Newark Penn Station. It would seem that Harry Grant (is he still alive?) was the only architecturally ambitious New Jerseyan in recent history. Where is the new Harry Grant to take us into a new magnificence for Newark?