UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey had planned to be unpacking in its new headquarters by now, but the moving trucks haven’t arrived just yet.
A view of the new UJA-NNJ building. Photo courtesy of UJA-NNJ
UJA-NNJ closed on its new building in Paramus in April, with plans to renovate it and move in on Labor Day weekend. Now, in the middle of October, federation leaders expect the move to likely take place this coming April. The 33,000-square-foot building at 50 Eisenhower Drive awaits its renovations, beginning with the heating and ventilation system, which UJA-NNJ executive vice president Howard Charish said was the source of the delay.
"We discovered some issues that required repair," he said on Friday. "That is being taken care of."
Charish added that the interior has been "completely deconstructed" for the repairs and the subsequent renovations, which include turning a building that had previously hosted three separate companies at a time into one appropriate for a single organization. A contractor has been hired and UJA-NNJ is waiting on permits from Paramus to move forward on the HVAC repairs.
With a price tag of $5 million, the three-floor building in Paramus will provide UJA-NNJ with more than double the space it has in its River Edge headquarters. The federation’s intent is to raise enough money to pay off the new building instead of taking out a mortgage, like the one it maintains on its current office. But, Charish said, the mortgage would be paid off with funds from the sale of the building. The River Edge office will be put on the market "very shortly" and there are "many interested buyers," Charish said.
Fund-raising continues in order to reach UJA-NNJ’s goal, which includes the $5 million cost of the building and $1.5 million for renovations. None of the money would be taken from UJA-NNJ’s annual campaign, Charish noted. Rather, it is being raised in a separate capital campaign. Proceeds from the sale of the current building are also expected to go toward the capital campaign.
"These are benefactors of the community who understand the need for the move and have been extraordinarily generous," Charish said, noting that he does not expect fund-raising for the new building to conflict with UJA-NNJ’s charitable fund-raising.
The campaign had previously received a kickstart from Wilson and Margaret Kaplen, Norman and Barbara Seiden, and the Silna family, who promised major gifts totaling $1.8 million. It has now reached approximately $’.5 million of its $6.5 million goal, according to UJA-NNJ president Dan Silna, who expected that benefactors from the community would step forward after visiting the new building to see how it would benefit the federation.
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.
After UJA Federation of Bergen County & North Hudson merged with the Jewish Federation of North Jersey in ‘004, the new partner to the merger moved into Bergen’s 14,000-square-foot home on Kinderkamack Road in River Edge, creating cramped quarters and a run on parking spots.
"This is going to solidify the merger," Silna said. "One of the mistakes a young couple can make when they get married is to move into either his parents’ or her parents’ house. They don’t have a place of their own. This," he said of the Paramus building, "is a place of our own."