For all of the panel discussions I’ve been to while covering commercial real estate, this was uncharted territory when it came to the subject matter: Cannabis Policy in the Garden State.
It was early March at the annual New Jersey Future Redevelopment Forum and I chose this particular session knowing that it could provide some useful background for an upcoming story. That turned out to be true, thanks to a group of expert panelists that included Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca, who has come out in support of legalizing recreational marijuana in New Jersey.
That caught the attention of a real estate executive in the audience.
“I’m going to look for property in Maplewood,” the person told me as he headed for the door.
To be fair, DeLuca’s support is tied largely to a social concern — addressing what he feels is an unfair pattern of possession arrests that falls disproportionately on African Americans. But he certainly didn’t ignore the economic windfall that could come from allowing a marijuana dispensary or growing facility in his town.
As you’ll find out in this month’s cover story, insiders say that now is the time to discern which municipalities will be receptive to the cannabis business, if and when it becomes a legal industry in New Jersey. That prospect is likely many months from being a reality, if not more, but the concept has the support of Gov. Phil Murphy and several well-known lawmakers.
The impact on commercial real estate could be substantial. Data from Colorado, where recreational use has been legal since 2014, show it to be a natural fit for older, Class B and C warehouse buildings. You could argue that New Jersey’s industrial market is doing just fine already, but experts also say cannabis could provide a second chance for outdated office buildings in bad locations.
Our story also details some of the risks and complexities of being a landlord or operator, considering marijuana is still illegal under federal law. But New Jersey’s real estate community knows all about risk and complexity, so you can bet there will be plenty of interest.
Our April issue also includes a profile of David Brogan, the popular leader of the New Jersey Apartment Association. The organization has recorded some impressive growth in the roughly three years since he took over as its executive director, thanks in part to his background in government affairs and a strong team that he has built around him.
We bring you those features alongside other stories, including a look at how a group of female attorneys have helped drive the growth of the real estate group at Chiesa Shahinian and Giantomasi. We also bring you a detailed look at Avora, a truly high-end condominium project that is set to open along the Hudson waterfront in Weehawken.
You can find those stories and more in our April issue, as we eagerly await the warm weather and what will hopefully be a busy second quarter. In the meantime, thank you for reading and allowing us to become the top source for New Jersey commercial real estate news. And please continue to reach out with your questions, feedback and story ideas. Enjoy the issue!