New life for long vacant department store gem

Reprinted from Shopping Centers Today 

For three decades the once-grand former department store stood empty. But a team of developers has restored and converted the 400,000-square-foot Hahne & Co. building, in downtown Newark, N.J., into a mixed-use project with the city’s first Whole Foods store and 75,000 additional square feet for retail.

The renovated building also features an arts-and-culture center operated by Rutgers University–Newark, plus 160 new apartments — 64 of which are set aside for low-income and working families. The new homes are located on the third and fourth floors of the existing building and also in a new, nine-story residential building on the corner of New and Halsey streets, which will connect to the Hahne building through a shared lobby and public atrium. Chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson has plans to open a 2,250-square-foot restaurant in another part of the building.

The Hahne & Co. department store was designed by Goldwin Starrett and built by local businessman Julius Hahne in 1901. It was the first commercial building in Newark designed specifically as a department store. The art-deco store was the company’s flagship and boasted a spectacular four-story atrium in the center of the building. In 1987 Hahne was sold to May Department Stores Co., owner of Lord & Taylor, and the building has remained vacant since then.

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. The restoration preserved key elements of the structure, including the facade, the original signage and the expansive skylight. This skylight was dismantled, fully restored and reinstalled in the new retail arcade as a nod to the department store’s dramatic former shopping atrium.

The $174 million renovation was financed through a partnership of public, nonprofit and private groups, including sizable commitments from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. Private equity was provided by L&M Development Partners, Prudential and Goldman Sachs, and debt was provided by Citi Community Capital, Morgan Stanley and three nonprofit community development financial institutions: New Jersey Community Capital, the Low-Income Investment Fund and The Reinvestment Fund. Beyer Blinder Belle, a New York City firm specializing in historic preservation, was lead architect. New Jersey–based Inglese Architecture & Engineering provided architecture, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and construction administration services.

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