UJA finds a new home

UJA finds a new home

The UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey is picking up and moving west. At least a few miles.

The local federation announced Monday that it had contracted to buy a three-story building at 50 Eisenhower Drive in Paramus and that it will leave its current offices at 111 Kinderkamack Road in River Edge sometime after April ‘007.

UJA-NNJ will more than double its workspace when it moves into 50 Eisenhower Drive in Paramus next year. Photo by ken hilfman

"We’re looking at this new facility as the next level of performance and geographic cohesiveness for our community," said UJA-NNJ executive vice president Howard Charish. "We have outgrown our current facility, and we need a place that is more hospitable for volunteers and staff."

Federation officials said that the move was made necessary after the UJA Federation of Bergen County & North Hudson and the Jewish Federation of North Jersey merged in the summer of ‘004 to form the UJA-NNJ.

After the merger, the staff of the former North Jersey Federation moved into the Kinderkamack Road building, the offices of the former Bergen federation, causing a crunch in what the federation says was already cramped quarters.

The current three-story facility has only two stories and 15,000 square feet of usable office space and 60 parking spots, but the Paramus building has three stories and 3′,900 feet of usable space, along with 141 parking spots.

The federation now spends $8,000 a year for off-site storage space and another $9,600 a year to rent additional parking, and it has no up-to-code restrooms for the handicapped.

The move west will also provide a more central location for the UJA’s entire catchment area, as it will now be closer to Wayne and Franklin Lakes, areas that the former North Jersey Federation covered.

UJA-NNJ president Dan Silna said that the federation is also excited to be a part of what it sees as a growing corridor of Jewish institutions in western Paramus, as The Frisch School and Yeshivat Noam will soon move into buildings close to the federation’s new digs.

But, he said, the move was also necessary because of security concerns about the Kinderkamack Road building. That building is on stilts, which makes it vulnerable to explosive-packed cars.

"After 9/11, this became a concern," he said. "Anyone can park under that building and walk away. Since the second intifada started, yeshivas and synagogues and Jewish institutions have been tightening security. We should probably have a guard and a gate around the current parking lot."

The federation agreed to buy the building for $5 million, and will likely spend up to another $750,000 to $1 million on renovations, according to the UJA-NNJ’s Charish. The federation, said Silna, will not use money from its annual campaign to finance the project; instead it has started a separate campaign that has already raised $1.8 million. It also expects to raise somewhere around $1 million from the sale of its current facility, which is not yet on the market.

The federation did not look to spend lavishly on its new building, said Silna, and it was not looking for a showplace, merely something that would provide more working space and a more central community home. He believes that it found what it was looking for on Eisenhower Drive.

"It’s a good building for us," he said. "It’s not the Taj Mahal, but it will satisfy our immediate needs."

The sale is scheduled to close in April of ‘007, and then the federation will begin to make necessary repairs on the ‘0-year-old Paramus building. Now owned by Burt Ross Realty, the building, according to a Condition Assessment Report, is in good condition and has been well maintained.

The building has a cellular tower on its roof that generates approximately $’0,000 in income, but the federation also hopes that it can entice some tenants of its own to generate a bit more.

March of the Living and Israel Bonds now rent office space from the UJA-NNJ, and they will be given the opportunity to do so in the new building, Charish said. He added that the federation would like to make space in the top floor of the new building open to other local Jewish institutions.

"Our priority is to be a Jewish community headquarters," said Charish.

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