The former home of the Ocean County Observer on Robbins Street, in the heart of Downtown Toms River, has been vacant since the publication downsized two years ago. Now, the revamped building will be almost completely leased out by the new year, the property’s realtor said.
“It’s totally new,” said Ron Rosetto, the property’s realtor. “We gutted and demoed the building until it was just a shell, and then rebuilt it from the ground up.”
After the Observer left the property, Rosetto said about a year was spent completing renovations. Once those were complete, the property had been vacant for an additional year. Now, the basement floor will be leased to framing contractor Michael J. Wright, a consulting firm will take an office on the first floor, and the additional three floors will be executive office space. The tenants are expected to start moving in by March.
The five-floor building now features four office suites on every floor, each one with about 1,500 square feet of space. The base price to lease offices is $17.50 per square foot, annually. Rosetto added the electrical wiring and plumbing have also been renovated, as well as the elevator, which is now state-of-the-art.
Since the property is in the heart of Downtown Toms River, Rosetto said many prospective tenants were concerned about adequate parking for their employees. While the site has about 55 parking spaces, the building can house upwards of 80 employees. After doing a scan of the area, however, Rosetto found that there are over 250 parking spaces within a half-block of the property that can be used by employees.
While the vision for Downtown Toms River is more focused on boosting retail and restaurants in the area, Rosetto and the Business Improvement District said finding occupants for this property was a crucial first step in that direction.
“If the building leases 150 to 200 employees, that’s 150 to 200 people who will shop here and eat here on their lunch breaks or before they head home,” said Jody Alessandrine, the executive director of the Toms River Business Improvement District.
“Any type of synergy can be created by more people heading to the area,” he added.
Rosetto said because this space is now occupied, it might be a selling factor to bring more restaurants and retailers into the Downtown, because they will have the security of a regular client base.
“Now that this building is leased out, let’s work on tenant support,” he said, adding that he hoped to add restaurants where these employees could get lunch, like Surf Taco or a coffee shop, to the Downtown. “You need those services,” he said.
Besides tenant support, these services would also entice more people into the downtown on the weekends. Rosetto said he remembered when Downtown Toms River was the main location for shopping in the area, but since the opening of the Ocean County Mall, that has died out.
“When you have all offices and no retailers, you have no downtown,” Rosetto said, so with new employees making their way into the downtown area, this may spark an interest in offering more retail and restaurants.