Why Not Newark?

Last week, the CEO and Founder of Audible, Donald Katz, told a crowd of 700 people at a TEDx Navesink event that companies who move their businesses to Newark could see a financial benefit while providing a social benefit to the city.  What I find most interesting about this statement is the fact that he feels the need to “sell” Newark.

After all, Newark features:

  • Superior public transportation. Newark’s Penn Station provides one stop express service to New York’s Penn Station, one stop service to Newark Liberty International Airport, Amtrak service from Washington DC to Boston, as well as PATH service to Jersey City, Hoboken, and New York City.
  • Unmatched fiber connectivity.
  • Entertainment venues including The Prudential Center and New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
  • Higher education including Rutgers-Newark, NJIT, UMDNJ, and Seton Hall Law School.
  • Federal and County Courts.
  • Ironbound. Portuguese Food.

Yet, Newark has historically been an office market that has resembled a game of musical chairs.  Tenants move from one building to the next, and rarely do new tenants enter the market.

But given the connectivity to Manhattan, the students, the infrastructure, and the transportation option, why is Newark not a hot, vibrant, and in-demand market?  Why hasn’t WeWork made Newark its first New Jersey location?

Unfortunately, the crime rate in Newark is one of the highest in the state, which contributes to the perception of the city.  However, if I told you that the precinct in New York City with the lowest crime rate was in the South Bronx, would you believe me?  Maybe you wouldn’t.  But what if I told you that the precinct that included Yankee Stadium, in the South Bronx, had the lowest crime rate on nights that the stadium was being used?  Point being, we aren’t talking about all of Newark.

You might argue that the parking costs are high and that the highway infrastructure isn’t as easy to navigate as other markets in the state. But you could make the same arguments for Jersey City and Hoboken.

Given the investment by companies like Prudential and Panasonic, Newark is a changing market.  There have always been great restaurants, but the retail is changing, for the better, almost daily.  If you don’t believe me, take a walk around Broad Street near the new $444 million Prudential Building.  Better yet, give me a call and we can walk it together.

Personally, I am rooting for Newark.  Why not?