Gabe Alexander, CEO and founder of Alexander Property Holdings said he thinks 9 Polito Ave. in Lyndhurst has the potential to lead the charge in a new form of investment.
“In general, I like to do something that others haven’t done yet,” he said. “Any idea we can come up with where we’re implementing something else. Anything we can do that others haven’t thought of, we try to do.”
Alexander and Cushman & Wakefield executive managing director Curtis Foster have marketed standard amenities for a Class A property – a gym, cafeteria and conference center – but they have also added car-charging stations to attract new tenants.
Now, Foster and Alexander are looking to attract investment with Uber. Instead of offering a shuttle service to and from the property, Foster and Alexander have begun marketing monthly Uber rides according to a tenant’s square footage.
Uber, Foster said, is an alternative to a shuttle service at a lower basis and with increased flexibility.
“Each tenant that tours the property is asking the question ‘How are we going to get our employees here? What is the commuting opportunity?’” he said. “All of the buildings (in the Meadowlands) whether it’s Secaucus, Rutherford and East Rutherford have shuttles to the train station. We felt that this is more flexible because of the hours that tenants work today as opposed to having a bus sit in front of the building as an expense to the property.”
At 9 Polito, for example, a tenant like a law firm that may consider 20,000 square feet may receive 80 rides per month, Alexander said.
And unlike a traditional shuttle service, Uber rides can be scheduled irregularly and don’t restrict employees to set destinations like a shopping center or the Secaucus Junction station.
“Down in Secaucus there is an aggregate of 3 or 4 million square feet, so that offers the ability to have transportation every 12 minutes and shuttle services,” Foster said. “You have much more demand in downtown Harmon Meadow, and this basically takes what Harmon Meadow has, which is the best transportation hub in northern New Jersey, and expands it to the west to give multi tenanted buildings of all sizes a leg up on the competition.
“Obviously, a small building doesn’t support the budget (for a shuttle), so it benefits smaller buildings to have the ridership program.”
Nine Polito Avenue will serve as the pilot for Alexander Property Holdings’ Uber concessions program. But, the CEO and founder thinks the program has the potential to attract – and drive rents – at an additional two properties in Lyndhurst.
Alexander recently acquired 125 Chubb Ave. in Lyndhurst, a 135,000-square-foot property and owns 290,000 square feet of office at 160 Chubb Ave. in the same township. He is in talks with Foster and his own team about offering the same amenity to the properties, but he understands Uber rides are not for everyone.
“If you’re talking about a back office tenant, if the headquarters are in New York and this is just a call center, I don’t think they’re going to appreciate it as much as getting a full-service law firm,” he said. “It really depends on the tenant.
“It’s also the fact that one person may want to leave a 2 p.m., the next person wants to leave at 2:15 and the shuttles, if you have two shuttles, they work on half an hour increments. Here, people have the luxury of choosing if they want to have a car there at 3:15 or 3:30. It’s convenient as well.”
The property, 9 Polito, is 75 percent leased, Foster said, but the ability to offer Uber riders for a given square-footage, and the demand for office space in the region, will make the program a success.
“This is on the softer side of a cool amenity as opposed to a shoe-shine guy or a pick up and drop up dry-cleaning,” he said. “This is on the same track, but it’s much more important to have a ridership situation than it is to have another soft amenity in the building.
“As we move forward with this program and we get more action, we’ll probably expand it. (My partner) and I have like a dozen properties in the Meadowlands and we have not rolled out this particular program yet… but this gets us on the map.”