Editor’s Note

Hear directly from Editor Joshua Burd as he brings you the highlights of this month’s issue of Real Estate NJ and his observations from recent interviews.

A closer look

I’d venture to say that green design is still underappreciated as a practice and as an industry within the broader commercial real estate sector. I’ll even take some ownership of that, as someone who is meant to highlight where the market is and where it’s going in the great state of New Jersey, including the increasingly important topic of sustainability. That’s our focus in this month’s cover story, where we explore some of the more cutting-edge, eco-conscious features that multifamily builders are weaving into their projects. That includes everything from rainwater recycling to on-site composting systems that produce fertilizer for landscaping, as we find in a new luxury rental property in Jersey City. Halpern Real Estate Ventures, the developer of what’s known as Birch House, says those choices stem from the firm’s own corporate philosophy and a desire to meet the market where it’s going, even if those features are not quite widespread in New Jersey (not yet, anyway).

Meeting a need

There’s a group of towns in New Jersey that have the ultimate name recognition for those who live nearby or even those outside the state. As many of our readers can attest, Montclair is clearly one of those communities, with the vast selection of shops, restaurants and cultural spots that line its downtown and residents who are as engaged as any in the state. As you’ll read in this month’s cover story, Montclair is also increasingly popular with office tenants, but with a lack of Class A space, those requirements are largely going unmet. BDP Holdings aims to change that with a newly unveiled project known as The Iris, a proposed ground-up development that would include 124,000 square feet of office space, street-level retail and structured parking — all of it in the heart of the central business district.

Another chapter

As you’ll read in this month’s cover story, the city of New Brunswick ended 2023 on a high note when Nokia announced that it would become the new home of its iconic Bell Labs division. The company, which will move from its historic campus in the Murray Hill section of Union County, plans to occupy a built-to-suit, 360,000-square-foot research tower at the new HELIX campus by 2028. It’s slated to do so under a lease with SJP Properties, which will build the facility in partnership with New Brunswick Development Corp., the project’s master developer, in a signature deal for the city and for the three-building, multibillion-dollar redevelopment project.

The best of The Briefing 2023

With the holidays upon us, we’re excited to bring you a look back at our top stories of 2023, including our most-read items and a few editor’s picks. You can catch up on our daily “best of” emails below. We will also keep you updated in the event of any breaking news.

Win-win

It doesn’t take long to realize that golf and commercial real estate go hand in hand, but it was only recently that I learned of a new, rather unexpected connection. It comes by way of Old Bridge in Middlesex County, where the developer of a new nine-building, 4.2 million-square-foot industrial park has just opened an 18-hole public golf club on more than 200 acres. As you’ll read in this month’s cover story, the two properties are roughly three miles apart but are both critical pieces of the plan by 2020 Acquisitions.

A proud moment as NJIT’s Newark Startup Studio graduates 45 minority entrepreneurs

I hope you’ll indulge me this morning as I highlight a proud moment for all of us at Real Estate NJ. It came at this week’s Newark Summit, where New Jersey Institute of Technology President Teik Lim addressed the hundreds that were assembled in downtown Newark.

On the job

As you’ll read in this month’s cover story, veteran planner and public policy expert Dan Kennedy has a full plate of advocacy issues ranging from flood hazard and stormwater regulations to infrastructure and stranded assets. Fortunately, he brings nearly two decades of experience that includes key roles in state government and six years with the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey.

Adaptation

The glory days of near-zero vacancy and hard-to-fathom rent growth in the industrial market always came with the slightest bit of tension, especially among veteran landlords who know full well that nothing lasts forever. And with good reason, as we now know, as the asset class grapples with new headwinds that may not have seemed likely only two years ago.

Changing times

As you’ll read in this month’s cover story, redevelopment is coming to some of New Jersey’s largest malls — from the mecca of Paramus to Burlington County — as owners and local officials mull the future of their cherished shopping centers. Increasingly, those plans call for bringing new apartments, health care facilities and vibrant public spaces meant to create new foot traffic. Many of these projects are now moving forward in the Garden State, with more to follow, despite pockets of opposition and the challenge of repurposing a sprawling property with longstanding anchor tenants.

At the ready

The issue of so-called stranded assets is a recurring theme in New Jersey commercial real estate, regrettably so, one that often finds public officials on their heels when they’re left with a vacant, obsolete office park or mall. That is seemingly not the case in Bedminster, where local leaders spent nearly a decade preparing for the possibility that AT&T, its largest taxpayer and employer, would vacate its iconic, 1.1 million-square-foot campus in the township.