Federation one step closer to new home

Federation one step closer to new home

UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey has closed on its new $5 million home last week but the moving truck is not on its way just yet.

On April 6, UJA-NNJ president Danny Silna and Jeff Zenn of the law firm Sokol, Behot & Fiorenzo held the closing of the federation’s new building at 50 Eisenhower Drive in Paramus. To pay for the building, the renovations, and the move, UJA-NNJ took out an interim financing package through Chase Bank, which will be replaced by Economic Development Authority notes issued by United Jewish Communities, the umbrella group of Jewish federations in North America.

A view of the new UJA-NNJ building. Photo courtesy of UJA-NNJ

Now UJA-NNJ will renew its fund-raising efforts for the new property — put on hold after Israel’s summer war with Hezbollah broke out — with a capital campaign that has garnered commitments for $1.8 million. There are no foreseeable problems in raising the rest, Silna told The Jewish Standard last week.

"We have a community that has already, on numerous occasions, stepped up," he said. Three major gifts by Wilson and Margaret Kaplen, Norman and Barbara Seiden, and the Silna family have been promised to the campaign to get it started. None of the money for the new building, Silna emphasized, would be taken from other federation fund-raising campaigns.

According to Silna, the new building is the final step in the merger between UJA Federation of Bergen County & North Hudson and the Jewish Federation of North Jersey, which formed UJA-NNJ in ‘004. The reconstituted federation has outgrown the 14,000-square-foot former Bergen federation building on Kinderkamack Road in River Edge.

"When a young couple gets married, if they have to live in either his parents or her parents’ house the marriage becomes more difficult. It’s not Bergen County’s building," he said of the Paramus location. "This is UJA of Northern New Jersey’s building. There’s tremendous significance in that."

The federation searched for almost three years for a building in the corridor of routes 4 and 17, said Howard Charish, UJA-NNJ’s executive vice president. Space requirements — the organization wanted a building with 30,000 to 40,000 square feet — made the search more difficult. When the Paramus building came up for sale, Charish said, the federation seized the opportunity. It had been negotiating with the building’s owner, Burt Ross Realty, since June.

The Paramus building has 33,000 square feet on three floors for UJA-NNJ’s 60 full- and part-time employees. Previously, three different tenants occupied the building at a single time, so it will need to be remodeled for the needs of one large organization, Silna said.

Also, it was hard to find parking in the current location, which has only 60 parking spaces. The new building, meanwhile, has 140.

Silna expects renovations — at a cost of approximately $1.5 million — to begin shortly and continue through August, allowing the federation to move in by Labor Day weekend.

Once completed, the facility will include a conference center, a campaign suite, a women’s division suite, and an executive suite, as well as space on the first floor available for rent to other Jewish community organizations.

The second floor of the building will be home to the federation’s community service programs such as the Jewish Community Relations Council. The third floor will be for financial resource development, including the annual campaign, marketing and communication, and endowment. In the past, the federation has had to hold large meetings elsewhere. After the move, it will be able to accommodate its entire staff in one location.

Silna predicted that at the end of the capital campaign, including proceeds from the sale of the current building, the federation would have enough money to cover the purchase, renovations, and some savings for future repairs. The federation has at least three buyers interested in the River Edge property, he added.

"We have received numerous inquiries and we are very optimistic," Charish said. "Because of the location of our current building it is a very saleable piece of property."

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