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Following the donation of 150,000 masks, company now helping to keep payrolls intact.

By Ron Varrial

March 30, 2020

Photo: Retail tenants of Prudential on Halsey Street in Newark, New Jersey, captured prior to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Updated 4/29/20: Prudential has extended rent relief to tenants through May.

Prudential has waived April and May rent for tenants in its retail spaces in Newark, New Jersey—most of whom are small business owners, the company’s latest effort to support the community during the COVID-19 crisis.

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.

“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,” says a letter to tenants from Anthony Stivale, vice president, Corporate Real Estate. 

Prudential serves as landlord to 21 storefronts, including coffee shops, 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.

“I am overwhelmed by your helpful gesture before we even asked,” Jafar Ismail, owner of Global Burgers, told the company. “I hope all you wonderful folks and your families stay safe.”

With New Jersey under a stay-at-home order by Gov. Phil Murphy, all nonessential businesses have been ordered shut, creating a spike in jobless claims. 

“In New Jersey, 155,000 workers filed for unemployment (this week),” Gov. Murphy said on March 26. “That’s 16 times the number that filed the week before.”

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. 

According to Bill Barrett, vice president, Corporate Real Estate, there’s no question that the significantly reduced presence of Prudential employees will have a big impact on the local economy. In fact, about 97% of Prudential employees in Newark are currently working remotely.

“We understand how difficult the current environment is on these businesses and their employees,” he says. “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.

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Harold Banks