Will Speedwell become Valley Avenue? Bank breaks ground for headquarters in Morristown

Mayor Tim Dougherty, second from left, with officials from SJP Properties, Valley Bank and Scotto Properties, at Valley Bank groundbreaking, June 9, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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At Thursday’s groundbreaking for the future headquarters of Valley National Bank, CEO Ira Robbins grinned and noted how Wayne Township renamed a street for the bank when it set up shop there.

Ira Robbins, CEO of Valley National Bank, at Valley groundbreaking, June 9, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The odds of Speedwell Avenue becoming Valley Avenue are pretty remote, Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty responded.

An even bigger wager is whether giant corporate headquarters have a future, after a pandemic that has accustomed employees to the traffic-free convenience of telecommuting.

Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin. Click/hover on images for captions:

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Steve Pozycki, founder and CEO of SJP Properties, is banking on it. His New York-based company has placed two big bets in Morristown, as developer of the Valley National project and, around the corner on Morris Street, of M Station, future regional headquarters of the Deloitte accounting firm.

“It’s a perfect time, if you want to get employees back to work, you want to bring them into a great ecosystem that is ripe for office use. And these tenants are ecstatic about being in Morristown,” Pozycki said, citing the downtown’s amenities and train station.

SJP CEO Steve Pozycki speaks with Ben and Anthony Scotto, at Valley Bank groundbreaking, June 9, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

DeLoitte is anticipated to move into its new six-story building this year, adjacent to a traffic roundabout at Morris and Spring streets that is on schedule for completion in October, Pozycki said.

A second, seven-floor office building on the M Station property–a former strip mall owned by Scotto Properties, also partners in the bank project–has town approvals. But no construction plans or tenants have been announced.

“We have a lot of interested parties,” Pozycki said.

When completed next spring, the Valley National headquarters will be the home office for 660 bank employees, and double as a training center for hundreds more, Valley National CEO Ira Robbins said.

As the sun danced in and out of puffy clouds, dozens gathered for brief speeches outside the Hyatt Regency, across from the construction site. When a breeze toppled a row of ceremonial shovels, Dougherty insisted it meant good luck.

Mayor Tim Dougherty speaks at Valley Bank groundbreaking. Beside him is a rendering of the project, behind him, the construction site, June 9, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“It is crucially important to our future that we invest in our downtown. And investments like Valley National are second to none,” the mayor said. Working with SJP Properties has been “a home run,” he added, predicting these projects will bring jobs for local youths.

Ari Robbins, 12, views Valley Bank groundbreaking from the driver’s seat, June 9, 2022. He’s the son of Valley CEO Ira Robbins. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“The future is bright. People may say it’s a tough world we’re living in, the economy is crazy, New Jersey’s a tough state.

“But you know what? We’re doing it here in Morristown, and we’re grateful for the investment we’re getting…thank you for your investment in our community,” Dougherty, re-elected for a fourth term last year, said.

Council members Stefan Armington, Sandi Mayer, David Silva and Nathan Umbriac joined the mayor and developers in tossing shovel-loads of dirt at photographers, busily snapping the obligatory pictures.

Robbins’ son Ari, 12, enjoyed the view from the cockpit of an enormous earth-mover.

‘A REAL DOWNTOWN’

Designed by the Gensler architectural firm to incorporate many energy-saving features, the six-story, 125,000-square-foot bank structure will replace Olive Lucy’s, Pazzo Pazzo and Danny’s Pub, all demolished over the winter. Commercial storefronts are envisioned for th ground level.

Robbins, a former Morristown resident, said the town won out over locations in Manhattan and Florida because the town shares the bank’s philosophy that “community is important.”

“We’ve been a New Jersey community bank for 95 years, and to stay in New Jersey, in a local community, is really important to us,” Robbins said.

RIGHT NOW: Cleared site of future Valley Bank headquarters, June 9, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
COMING SOON: Rendering of future headquarters of Valley National Bank on Speedwell Avenue in Morristown.

“Morristown is a business-friendly community that enabled us to have the atmosphere and environment of a real downtown…when we think about the next hundred years of Valley, we couldn’t think of a better location to continue the growth story of who we are as an organization.”

SHOVEL-READY: Valley Bank groundbreaking, June 9, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Robbins thanked the Scotto brothers, Pozycki and the mayor. Details of the bank’s parking arrangement with the Headquarters Plaza garage still are being worked out, he said.

Established in Passaic County, Valley National is New Jersey’s largest bank and 29th biggest in the country, and also has operations in the United Kingdom, Robbins said.

As for renaming Speedwell Avenue–home of Historic Speedwell, birthplace of the telegraph–Morristown is off the hook.

“It’s a state-owned road,” Dougherty told the crowd, “and I know how difficult it is to get a permit from the state. So getting a name change for this is going to be nearly impossible.”

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6 COMMENTS

  1. lol Brad c’mon – what in the heck made those dilapidated buildings there historic in any sense? A huge company building their HQ in Morristown is beyond excellent for the town vibe and all local businesses.

    True historic buildings and modern buildings can co-exist, but don’t confuse old with historic.

  2. Looks like it will be an attractive building to replace the run down businesses that were there previously. Now let’s tear down the run down buildings on both sides of Speedwell from St. Margaret’s Church to HQ Plaza and make that stretch really shine. Oh, but no, Mayor Dougherty calls that a historic immigrant neighborhood, because that makes a better sound byte than saying that would displace his voting block. How much cash in a coffee cup would kick start some renewal in that neighborhood?

  3. Sad that yet another section of Morristown is being torn down for some sterile, unattractive building, and then the ego of the company to even suggest changing the historic name of Speedwell Avenue, when it reflects the ever-disappearing history of Morristown is just shameful and sad. The sterilization of Morristown continues. It’s beginning to look like generic-town USA, void of any history, character or charm. Just so sad.

  4. This has to do with M station. Four years New Jersey has been trying to get rid of traffic circles because they’re so dangerous and now Morristown is about to allow a traffic circle, under the European name roundabout, at one of the busiest intersections in Morristown, spring Street in Morris Street. Can somebody explain to me the logic of this? Jim McKenna, born and raised in Morristown 85 years ago and still here.

  5. “Details of the bank’s parking arrangement with the Headquarters Plaza garage still are being worked out.”

    Why does this not surprise me. All of these employees will end up improperly crossing busy Speedwell Ave to get into their building.

  6. All of these corporate people who will be working downtown and still there is only one downtown hotel?
    Am I missing something?

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