By Mihaela Coste
Meridian Capital Group negotiated a financing in the amount of $70 million on behalf of Somerset Development, for the repositioning of Bell Works, a 475-acre, two million-square-foot office campus located in Holmdel, N.J.
The three-year loan provided by OceanFirst Bank, as Yardi Matrix data shows, features a prime-based floating rate and full-term interest-only payments. Prior to the current financing, in March 2016 the property became subject to a $7.5 million loan through the same lender.
Located at 101 Crawfords Corner Road in close proximity to Garden State Parkway, Bell Works was formerly a research and development site for Bell Labs and Alcatel. The six-story asset designed by architect Eero Saarinen became one of the country’s most architecturally significant office buildings after the owner managed to modernize the building to accommodate today’s technology tenants, while preserving the existing architecture.
Managing Director Shaya Ackerman and Vice President Eli Serebrowski of Meridian’s New York City office led the negotiations.
Somerset is transforming the property into an indoor “downtown” with stores and restaurants lining the ground floor, offices and a hotel on the upper floors, a public library, state-of-the-art fitness facility, entertainment, health and wellness centers, educational facilities and indoor and outdoor sports complex. A portion of the site will feature single-family homes and townhomes developed by Toll Brothers.
According to Yardi Matrix data, Bell Works last traded in 2013, when Somerset Development acquired the asset from Lucent Technologies for a price tag of $27 million.
“Somerset plans to create a unique asset that will serve as a benchmark for developers around the country,” said Ackerman in a prepared statement. “Many have found it impossible to find the best use for underutilized suburban office campuses, but Somerset recognized Bell Works’ full potential and designed a phenomenal improvement plan,” he added.
Somerset recently signed a leasing agreement with Guardian Life Insurance Co., one of the largest mutual insurance companies in the United States. The company will occupy 90,000 square feet of space at Bell Works by 2018, moving hundreds of employees to the facility.
“Our agreement with Meridian further affirms our vision for the transformation of this once-underutilized gem into a ‘metroburb’ – a metropolis in suburbia,” said Ralph Zucker, president of Somerset Development. “With approximately 75 percent of the building’s office space already under lease agreement, it’s clear that there is immense enthusiasm in the market for this type of reinvented suburban asset.”
Images courtesy of Somerset Development and Bell Works