Leasing Surge Hits New Jersey’s Bell Works

With the signing of 16 new tenants, the office space at the 2 million-square-foot former Bell Labs campus is more than 90 percent occupied.

Bell Works. Image courtesy of Somerset Development

Sixteen new leases totaling about 48,000 square feet have brought Bell Works, Somerset Development’s reimagining of the historic 2 million-square-foot Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, N.J., past the 90 percent mark in office leasing.

The largest of those leases was for 18,993 square feet for national tax advisory firm CohnReznick. The other 15 involved various of the project’s “ready-to-wear” offices, which range from 500 to 4,500 square feet. The list of smaller tenants includes:

  • Beverage Works, the world’s largest Red Bull distributor;
  • FFW, a Copenhagen-based web strategy, design and development company;
  • KimShe International Grain and Feed, which exports corn, soy and dried grains from the Midwest to China and Southeast Asia;
  • NutraSourceRD, which provides registered dietitians to health-care facilities;
  • SpoofCard, a telecommunications company.

In all of the lease transactions, Somerset was represented by Garibaldi Group President Jeff Garibaldi, Vice President Tara Keating and Broker Support Analyst Lindsey Florio.

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Dubbed a “metroburb” for its plethora of urban-style amenities in a suburban setting, the mixed-use Bell Works centers around a quarter-mile long atrium that functions as a space for shops, restaurants, health-care, community services, among others. Food options at the building include a bakery and several restaurants.

The project’s other amenities do indeed echo those of a small municipality: an 18,000-square-foot public library, a Montessori school, a community bank branch, a dental office and a weekly farmers market. Entertainment venues include Swing Loose, an indoor golf facility; Escapology, an escape game experience; and OasisVRX, a virtual reality center.

Let’s do another one

The next step for the project will be the addition of a 186-key hotel on its rooftop. The property, which is slated to open in fall 2021, is set to feature a rooftop restaurant, bar, lounge area and infinity pool.

The building was designed by modernist architect Eero Saarinen and was originally constructed between 1962 and 1964. It now hosts more than 3,500 workers daily.

Somerset got the Bell Works redevelopment a boost with a $70 million, three-year loan in mid-2017.

Somerset President & CEO Ralph Zucker evidently has great confidence in the “metroburb” concept. Earlier this year, Somerset and Triangle Capital Group purchased the three-building, 1.7 million-square-foot former AT&T corporate campus in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The partners plan to invest about $200 million into creating Bell Works Chicago, along the lines of the original.

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