RBH Group and its investment partners, Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, Prudential Financial Inc., and AeroFarms, together with the City of Newark and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), announced the closing of a $30 million project to redevelop a former industrial site in the Ironbound community of Newark, NJ into the world’s largest indoor vertical farm and global corporate headquarters for AeroFarms, an urban agri-tech startup, which provides aeroponic growing systems to produce plants without sun or soil.

RBH Group and AeroFarms are building a state-of-the art 69,000 square foot indoor vertical farm and global headquarters in a converted steel factory located at 212 Rome Street that is owned by RBH Group. Currently under construction, the first phases will open in the second half of 2015, creating approximately 78 jobs in a local community with an unemployment rate that is twice the national average.  Additionally, AeroFarms has partnered with the Ironbound Community Corporation to create a recruiting and job training program targeting local residents. According to CrunchBase, in 2010 AeroFarms had raised $500,000 in Seed funding from clean-tech incubator 21Ventures.

Ron Beit

Ron Beit-Halachmy, founding partner and CEO of RBH Group. Credit: NJBIZ

Ron Beit-Halachmy, also known as Ron Beit, founding partner and CEO of RBH Group, said, “We are delighted to introduce AeroFarms, a farming and technology leader, to the City of Newark, creating jobs for local residents and greater access to locally grown produce for our community. AeroFarms will anchor our broader “Makers Village” development project in the Ironbound neighborhood that will compete toe-to-toe with the Brooklyn Navy Yard in terms of a superior cost structure and greater transmodal access, bringing 21st century “maker-type” businesses to Newark and the State of New Jersey.”

aero-leadership

The AeroFarms Team: (L/R) Marc Oshima, CMO, Ed Harwood, CSO, and David Rosenberg, CEO.

David Rosenberg, CEO for AeroFarms, said, “We are excited to redefine not only the Garden State but also agriculture overall. Partnering with RBH, Goldman Sachs, Prudential, the City of Newark and NJEDA allows us to bring our global headquarters and the world’s largest indoor vertical farm close to where the consumer is, offering a fresher, more nutritious and delicious product while also creating jobs in the community. We are also happy to build on our deep ties within the Newark community over the last 4 years, where we have had one of our working farms in the cafeteria of Philips Academy Charter School, offering the shortest farm to table experience around for the students.”

Mayor Ras J. Baraka said, “Newark is excited to partner with RBH Group, AeroFarms, Goldman Sachs, Prudential Financial and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority on the creation of the world’s largest indoor vertical farm.

“Newark is increasingly becoming a destination City for high-tech and environmentally-friendly commerce, and this $30 million project in the East Ward will bring jobs and prosperity to our City.  It will also expand the role of urban farming and locally-produced vegetables in our City.  This will provide greater access to healthy and inexpensive food choices for our residents, helping them live healthier lifestyles.

“This development initiative is a win for everyone involved, and will have a major impact on our City’s economic and physical health, and our efforts to transform Newark into a City we can all believe in.  I congratulate RBH, AeroFarms, our Economic Development team, and all other partners on making this project happen.”

Margaret Anadu, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, said, “AeroFarms’ innovative vertical farming technology will help boost the local economy, promote healthy food options locally, and support environmental sustainability. Importantly, the project will also create high-quality, accessible local jobs, marking an important step in the continued revitalization of the Ironbound neighborhood.”

“We expect AeroFarms to build on Newark’s history as a hub for manufacturing and innovation by attracting and retaining businesses that will grow through the 21st Century,” said Lata Reddy, vice president of corporate social responsibility and president of The Prudential Foundation.  “Next generation agri-businesses, such as AeroFarms, represent economic opportunity for Newarkers and development that will benefit the entire region.”

The building is located on a 3-acre industrial site in the center of the Ironbound community in Newark, NJ. It is adjacent to elevated truck Route 1 and 9, a freight rail right of way, and to other industrial businesses along Rome and Christie Streets.

When completed, AeroFarms will have the capacity to grow up to 2 million pounds per year of baby leafy greens and herbs in an environmentally controlled, safe, and sanitary facility. It will provide healthy foods to the local community as well as to other markets. AeroFarms is a model for successful, sustainable farming offering 75 times more productivity per square foot annually than a traditional field farm while using no pesticides and consuming over 95% less water.

“The New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act is effectively working to spur growth in our cities and create new job opportunities for our residents,” said NJ Economic Development Authority President and Chief Operating Officer Timothy Lizura. “The transformation of a vacant warehouse in Newark into a headquarters and manufacturing facility for an emerging company is exactly the kind of project the Act was created to advance. The novel technologies that AeroFarms is developing could affect growers around the world, placing New Jersey once again at the forefront of innovation.”

Ron Beit is the founding partner and CEO of RBH Group, LLC and president of RBH Management, LLC, asset and property management companies. RBH has acquired, developed, rehabilitated, and/or operated over 1 million square feet of existing commercial and residential real estate in numerous projects throughout the U.S. It has over 6 million additional developable square feet in institutional-grade sites throughout downtown, Newark, NJ.

RBH Group has been an active participant in helping the city of Newark become New Jersey’s business and entertainment capital and a downtown, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week attraction. It has acquired 79 parcels through 30 separate transactions in Newark’s downtown core. The company’s efforts there to date have been in land assemblage and land entitlement in order to create a large-scale platform for institutional-grade development. RBH is currently developing the groundbreaking Teachers Village project and the Four Corners Millennium project in the historic core of the city.

AeroFarms Indoor Vertical Farming System

The AeroFarms Indoor Vertical Farming System

AeroFarms, founded in 2004,  is a mission-driven company and environmental champion leading the way to address our global food crisis by building, owning, and operating throughout the world responsible farms that grow safe, nutritious, and delicious food, setting a new standard for culinary freshness and flavor. AeroFarms has been fundamentally transforming agriculture and disintermediating the supply chain by enabling local farming at commercial scale all year round. Led by CEO David Rosenberg who has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as one of the “Transformational Leaders in Agriculture”, AeroFarms was just profiled by Bloomberg TV for their annual program Year Ahead 2015 highlighting companies that are poised to disrupt business. AeroFarms is a Circular Economy 100 company, was voted Most Innovative Company at the Future Farm World agriculture conference and the Best Growth Company to invest in at the Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics conference. AeroFarms is also the past Winner of Red Herring’s Top 100 North America and Global Finalist for Innovative Companies, Finalist for Silicon Valley’s TiE50 Awards for Energy/CleanTech, Finalist for World Technology Awards for the Environment, and Finalist for CleanEquity Monaco for Technology.

The City of Newark is enjoying a strong revival. With its world-class entertainment venues (e.g., the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Prudential Center, the Newark Museum), and its art galleries and restaurants, Newark is increasingly becoming a destination for visitors. Its six major colleges and universities are further expanding their presence, and major corporations like Panasonic USA, Manischewitz, Wakefern, PSE&G, Prudential, and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield are based here.

In July 2014, Mayor Ras J. Baraka appointed Deputy Mayor Adofo-Wilson to oversee the City of Newark’s Department of Economic and Housing Development.  The mission of this Department is to create economic opportunity for Newark residents and enhance the vibrancy of the City.  The Department seeks to position Newark to take advantage of its unique assets, including its strategic location, a diverse and under-utilized workforce, a large amount of developable land, concentration of corporate and business service firms, several major universities, and a wealth of arts and cultural assets.

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments, and high-net-worth individuals. Founded in 1869, the firm is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in London, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Hong Kong and other major financial centers around the world.

Established in 2001, the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group deploys capital to benefit urban communities. Through its comprehensive community development platform, UIG is a catalyst in the revitalization of underserved neighborhoods. UIG has committed more than $4.1 billion, facilitating the creation and preservation of over 14,000 housing units – the majority of which are affordable to low, moderate and middle-income families – as well as over 1,700,000 square feet of community facility and over 5,000,000 square feet of commercial and retail space.

Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader with more than $1.1 trillion of assets under management as of December 31, 2014, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.  Prudential Financial Inc.’s diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential Financial, Inc.’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century.

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