The Jersey City Apartment Owners Association on Oct. 19 hosted its inaugural awards ceremony, honoring developers and industry players who have made significant impacts in the multifamily sector. From left: Gordon N. Gemma, general counsel of Panepinto Properties; Daniel Reiser, director of leasing, marketing and public relations at Panepinto; Joe Rodrigues, consultant to Panepinto; JCAOA Executive Director Wendy Paul and Joseph A. Panepinto Jr., president of Panepinto Global — All images courtesy: JCAOA
By Joshua Burd
Real estate leaders along the Hudson waterfront took center stage last week when the Jersey City Apartment Owners Association hosted a newly launched awards program.
The Oct. 19 event, which took place at the Sophia Rooftop downtown, paid tribute to developers and industry players who have made significant impacts in the multifamily sector. That included honorees in four categories:
- Affordable Housing: Eugene O’Connell of Cara Squared LLC
- Sustainability: Anna Malhari of Veris Residential Inc.
- Building Trades: Pat Kelleher of the Hudson County Building & Construction Trades Council
- Philanthropy: Joseph A. Panepinto Sr. of Panepinto Properties
“As one of the fastest-growing cities in America, housing is a keystone to enabling Jersey City to reach its fullest potential,” said LeFrak’s Jeremy Farrell, board president of the JCAOA. “This growth has led to unprecedented demand for housing that is only going to become greater as we look to the future. The event represents the first time that we are recognizing contributions from people that have helped to meet the tremendous housing demands of Jersey City.”
Organizers of the inaugural JCAOA Honors Awards ceremony noted that O’Connell, president of Cara Squared, is a renowned attorney, developer and master mason whose achievements include the development of more than 1,200 units of affordable housing in New Jersey. Notably, he completed the award-winning 306 Bergen Avenue Apartments and Ocean Green Senior Apartments, a 44-unit building for seniors and clients with special needs.
Additionally, O’Connell has been recognized by The White House and received accolades from Hudson County, the city of Jersey City, the state of New Jersey and other entities.
Malhari, for her part, is Veris’ chief operating officer and has been a driving force in the firm’s sustainability efforts at both the property and corporate levels, according to a news release. Under her leadership, the real estate investment trust became the first U.S. real estate company to endorse the Climate Group’s EV100 initiatives and achieved the WELL Equity Rating portfolio-wide, making a significant impact on the sustainability landscape.
JCAOA added that Malhari was named to GlobeSt.’s Fifty Under 40 list in 2023 and its Women of Influence list in 2022.
“At Veris Residential, we understand the built environment’s significant impact on our global ecosystem and carbon emissions,” Malhari said. “We are committed to mitigating our footprint by creating greener, more resilient properties that benefit not only our organization but also the Jersey City community at large. As such, I am honored to be recognized by the Jersey City Apartment Owner’s Association for our accomplishments in sustainability.”
Kelleher, meantime, has been instrumental in advancing the interests of building trades in Hudson County, the news release said. The association also pointed to his role in growing and developing the region’s construction industry.
Panepinto’s award was a nod to his distinguished record of service and support for Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City. The JCAOA noted that, for more than 50 years, the iconic developer has demonstrated unwavering dedication as an alumnus, benefactor and member of its board of trustees, citing the naming of a recently completed 285-bed residence hall on Montgomery Street as Panepinto Hall.
“As a native of Jersey City it has long been my aim to help in the revitalization of this city,” said Panepinto, the CEO and president of Panepinto Properties. “Some of the most important parts of our community are its charitable and nonprofit institutions. Education is certainly a very important one. Therefore, by supporting Saint Peter’s we are supporting the future growth of our community.”