The Lotus Equity Group has announced plans to develop the United States’ largest mass timber office building as part of Riverfront Square, Newark’s most ambitious redevelopment project. Designed by visionary architecture firm – Michael Green Architecture – the first commercial building in the project will encompass up to 500,000 square feet of Class A office space designed to enhance tenant wellness and environmental sustainability.
Riverfront Square will transform one of the downtown area’s most important sites into a thriving 24/7 community. The 11.8-acre site sits adjacent to the waterfront, steps from NJ Transit’s Broad Street station – accessible to Midtown Manhattan in 18 minutes – and complements the future Riverfront Park designed by the internationally acclaimed James Corner Field Operations. Riverfront Square is Newark’s most ambitious mixed-use project and is expected to provide up to 2,000 residential units, large and small-scale retail, cultural and public open space, a hotel, 2 million square feet of office space, and parking spaces in the heart of downtown.
“To build the nation’s largest timber building in Newark speaks to the confidence and belief we have in the city and Riverfront Square as a worldclass location that can compete with any great city around the world,” said Ben Korman, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Lotus Equity Group. “The vision we share with Michael Green is to design the most environmentally sustainable office tower that enhances the health of tenants and the surrounding communities through efficient planning and green design. When you merge these benefits with Newark’s emerging technology sector, Riverfront Square is primed to help companies attract and retain valuable talent.”
Korman envisions the roughly USD 1.7 billion Riverfront Square as a project that could help push Newark into the next phase of steady and organic growth. Located at the north end of Newark’s central district, the project would include about 2,000 apartments, a public square, more than 100,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, 2 million square feet of offices as well as hotel and entertainment space, all within seven to ten buildings.
The building will rise in three separate sections to six, eight and eleven storeys tall and have a concrete foundation. Its columns, exterior panels, elevators, stairwells and floor systems will be made of mass timber. In addition, the interiors will boast exposed wood with a facade covered in metal panels, brick or wood. According to the architects, timber-built buildings reduce the number of greenhouse gases emitted and more importantly save developers overall time on construction. Plus, wood connects workers to nature, creating a more pleasant and productive environment.
“This project represents an opportunity for MGA, in collaboration with Lotus Equity Group, to lay the foundation for the future of Riverfront Square and the city of Newark more broadly. Good buildings are good neighbors and we envision a sustainable, efficient and architecturally-stunning future for Newark,” said Michael Green, Founder and Principal of Michael Green Architecture.
Environmental advantages of timber-built buildings are largely derived from its construction. Trees absorb and hold carbon until they decompose or are burned, while the manufacture of concrete and steel accounts for an estimated 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
While Newark’s building code limits heavy timber construction to six storeys, a spokesperson for Lotus stated that wooden towers in other states have received exemptions to local code limits by showing the safety of this type of construction. The developer expects New Jersey will be open to similar exemptions.
According to Green, the manufactured wood that will be used for this office building is different from the typical woodstick construction used in low-rise residential buildings. Traditionally, the products used for wood towers consist of pieces or layers of wood glued together to form massive, solid columns or panels. Under fire, these engineeredtimber products create a char layer, sealing and protecting the main structural components and allowing buildings to remain standing for longer periods. More importantly, this type of wood construction can shave months from the construction schedule, eliminating the lengthy time it takes for wet concrete to dry and set and providing often faster assembly times for wood components.
Four renowned architecture firms will lead the development of Riverfront Square, including TEN Arquitectos, Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners and Michael Green Architecture. Each of the selected architects have been chosen for their own commitment to responsible community development, acting as visionary leaders who seamlessly combine architecture and design with urban sensibility. AJohn Picco, Peter Van Duyne, Sean Brady, Alex Lachmund and Christian Politan of Cushman & Wakefield have been selected as the project’s exclusive commercial brokerage team.
“As companies continue to prioritize sustainability, wellness and innovation, buildings like this have become extremely attractive to tenants across industry sectors. Newark is a growing business community, already home to noteworthy companies like Audible, Panasonic and Prudential, and Riverfront Square represents an opportunity for companies growing in or moving to the New York metro area to enter a highly desirable live, work, play development unlike any other,” said John Picco, Executive Director of Cushman & Wakefield.
Lotus Equity Group is a socially conscious developer and owner deeply committed to revitalizing downtown Newark and creating a 24/7 live-work-play community. Lotus has been an integral force in Newark’s recent business development; Ben Korman is also the operating partner of C&K Properties, the longstanding owner of 2 Gateway Center, Newark’s largest office building. With its deep experience in Newark and in delivering complex projects around the world, Lotus is uniquely positioned to do its part in advancing a shared vision for Newark.