As one of the state's top developers — and one of the few that has continued to build new Class A office space in recent years — the Rockefeller Group is now practicing what it preaches.
It’s been doing so for about four months, ever since it moved its New Jersey office to downtown Morristown from its longtime home in Mount Olive. The move has given the firm many
of the same amenities and features that tenants are seeking when they look to partner with a developer on a new home for their workforce, all with an eye toward the future of the business.
“We’ve been preaching about new office space, and that’s what has been driving the new development business — the benefits of new space,” said Clark Machemer, Rockefeller’s senior vice president and regional development officer for New Jersey and Pennsylvania. “And we’ve tried to implement that here in our own office.
“We’re not doing 100,000 square feet, but trying to get some of those elements in, and I think people are reacting positively to that.”
Designed by Gensler, the 7,000-square-foot space occupies the ninth floor of the north tower of Morristown’s Headquarters Plaza. Its cubicles are low-walled, and common areas abound, while the offices and conference rooms that line the perimeter are separated by glass panels and sliding doors.
It all contributes to a bright, airy and modern feel for about 16 employees who relocated from about 20 miles away in Mount Olive, a suburb on the western edge of Morris County, where the firm had its office for some 25 years. Machemer said there was nothing wrong with the physical space in its former home, but it lacked “the proximity to the folks that we were doing business with.”
A bigger look ... in a smaller space
Granted, it was space the Rockefeller Group didn’t need, but in its move from Mount Olive to Morristown, the developer has given up about 2,000 square feet for its team of New Jersey and Pennsylvania employees.
Don’t tell that to anyone who is visiting the space for the first time.
“Everyone who has walked in has said, ‘Boy, you have more space,’” said Clark Machemer, Rockefeller’s senior vice president and regional development officer for New Jersey and Pennsylvania. “And we’re still not packed in.”
“That’s a key. I’d always be talking to someone on the phone as opposed to just ‘Let me stop by your office,’ like we’re doing today,” he said. “When you’re having people call and say ‘Hey, can I swing by?’ instead of being on the phone — nothing beats that face-to-face.”
For instance, its employees are only an elevator ride or short walk from two well-known commercial real estate services firms — Cushman & Wakefield and Avison Young — both of which have space in the Headquarters Plaza complex.
“We’re working better with our consulting teams and clients and partners,” Machemer said. “We’re glad to be here and I think it’s making us more effective in what we’re doing and who we’re interacting with.”
That’s not to mention that the Rockefeller team is now just a five-mile, 10-minute drive from one of the New York-based firm’s signature projects in New Jersey: The Green at Florham Park. The 268-acre master planned development, already home to the North American headquarters of BASF Corp. and Summit Medical Group, has been more than a decade in the making and is continuing to move ahead.
It’s why the proximity is a major plus for the Rockefeller employees who are based in New Jersey, such as its design, construction and underwriting teams. That is especially true as it proceeds with new phases at The Green, such as an upscale, 161-room hotel that will operate under the ARCHER hotel brand.
“These are people that need to be out with clients and towns and consulting teams every day. Being here was key,” Machemer said, adding that “we’ve got enough projects that we’ll be having to support those projects, so we’ll have some future growth here.”
Efforts to bolster its team and recruit new talent will also benefit from the move to Morristown, which has become one of the state’s most vibrant residential communities for young professionals. If they join the Rockefeller team, they’ll find themselves in an office that invites collaboration and in the type of mixed-use, walkable environment with retail and restaurants that the workforce is increasingly seeking.
To Machemer, it all ties together.
“I can understand why, 15 years ago, people would want to work at home, because most of the office space … really wasn’t good,” he said.
“It didn’t make you want to go there, so if you get places that people like to be in … that’s where the collaboration happens.”
Machemer also noted that “social media has proven to me that people want to be social, but you’ve got to put them in an environment where they want to be, because you have a lot of different options.”
“Personally, coming in here, I feel a little bit rejuvenated. The new space just feels good.”