Along a two-mile stretch of Newark’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. you’ll find some of the stateliest mansions. The strip was known as the city’s illustrious High Street during America’s Gilded Age, during the late 1800s. It’s where some of Newark’s industrial magnates, bankers and barons of yesteryear built a neighborhood that would be envied by residents and visitors alike. And it’s where three young entrepreneurs—Robert Demetrio, Pietro Calabretta, and Allan Suarez—decided to put down roots.
But instead of building a residential unit, the trio created a place where future barons could work, now called the Newark Foundry. “We started out renovating old brownstones in Brooklyn, but we were looking to move away from residential homes and into more commercial spaces,” explains Suarez.
With more than 30 years of construction, carpentry and restoration experience, the developers invested more than $350,000 to restore the charm of a neglected 6,200-sq-ft. mansion and convert it into a community hub for Newark entrepreneurs, professionals and freelancers.
Modern Technology Runs Throughout
“We strongly believe that Newark is on the cusp of being recognized as a legitimate tech hub leader,” foresees Suarez. The team recognized the importance of marrying contemporary technology with vintage architecture, which now makes the four-story Victorian-style building equipped with all the efficiencies necessary for a budding business. “Of course, we’re hardwired for Internet, data and phone on all three floors. And we didn’t have to destroy any of the original construction in the process.”
Co-founder Demetrio adds, “We added security cameras to each floor and the exterior, we use a Ring doorbell system that chimes through your smartphone, and there’s low-energy-use LED lighting.”
Sorry, No Vacancies
Combining these amenities with central heating and air conditioning, and a dedicated parking lot with an adjacent overflow lot, has not only made professionals come knocking, it’s made them rush the door.
As of August 1, 2017, just three short months after the Newark Foundry’s ribbon cutting, all 15 permanent offices have been rented, and the co-working space on the first floor has been converted into an office suite to meet popular demand.
Some of the businesses now calling Newark Foundry their corporate headquarters include law firm Irving and Mendenhall, Qunnections Management Group., and MCI Property Management.
Eyes on Newark
“We love reactivating old buildings. If there’s anything we can save and restore, we will,” shares Suarez. But it isn’t just a love of interior carpentry that led the developers to Newark’s doorstep.
“Newark could be a viable alternative to New York City’s overcrowded and expensive co-working options. We want to be a part of how Newark’s growing,” adds Suarez, who says this project was in the back of his mind for almost four years.
In 2013, a staffer for former Mayor Cory Booker invited the Newark Foundry owners to tour similar types of working space on the west coast, hoping to entice them to do that kind of work in Newark. “From there, it just grew,” recalls Suarez.
Next came location scouting, financing and, ultimately, the Newark Foundry.