Prudential Financial announced Monday it has waived April rent for tenants in its retail spaces in Newark — most of whom are small business owners.
The decision applies to both restaurants that are still allowed to provide takeout and stores mandated by the state to close entirely. At the forefront of the decision was a desire to help these businesses maintain their payroll.
Anthony Stivale, vice president, corporate real estate, said it is part of the company’s efforts to support the Newark community during the COVID-19 crisis.
“It’s our hope that this rent relief allows you to continue paying your employees while your store is temporarily closed by municipal, state and/or federal order,” Stivale wrote in a letter to tenants.
Prudential serves as landlord to 21 storefronts, including coffeeshops, dry cleaners and retail, in and around its office buildings. About half the tenants are restaurants popular with employees working in the Newark office towers.
In addition to enacting these lease waivers, Prudential continues to pay vendors for building services, such as janitorial, cafeteria, security and van drivers, in the hope they will not lay off any of their workforce.
Prudential said approximately 97% of its employees in Newark are currently working remotely. Bill Barrett, vice president, corporate real estate, said there’s no question that the significantly reduced presence of Prudential employees will have a big impact on the local economy.
In the release, Barrett suggested the company may extend the lease offer.
“We understand how difficult the current environment is on these businesses and their employees,” Barrett said in a release. “We will assess the situation in mid-April to determine whether to extend a similar offering for May.
“Prudential doesn’t want these workers to lose a paycheck because our employees need to work from home.”
The decision to waive rent is just one way the company is helping the local community. As part of $1.5 million in crisis relief funding, Prudential has contributed:
- $250,000 to the Small Business Emergency Grant Fund started by the city of Newark, the United Way and Invest Newark and another $50,000 to support employees of small businesses;
- $600,000 to the United Way of Greater Newark’s Community COVID-19 Fund, which prioritizes public health, relief for individuals and families, support for the nonprofit sector and other emerging needs.
Jafar Ismail, owner of Global Burgers, told the company he was grateful for their gesture.
“I am overwhelmed by your helpful gesture before we even asked,” he said in the release.