Gov. Phil Murphy will give his budget message to the Legislature on Tuesday, March 5. As the voice of the commercial real estate development industry in New Jersey, NAIOP’s attention will be focused on the messaging that emanates from Trenton. Given the headlines over the last several months, we are rightly concerned about the state’s fiscal health and its ability to withstand a recession, which is all but certain by 2020.
A newly elected Congress returns in January with Republicans enjoying a slightly expanded majority in the Senate and Democrats taking charge of the House of Representatives for the first time since 2010. I believe that the shift of power in the House to a Democratic majority has opened some opportunities for those of us in New Jersey commercial real estate.
The influx of “big data” can be overwhelming and complex — coming with privacy concerns and other challenges — but it provides a great opportunity to help developers and landlords improve operational efficiencies and attract and retain tenants.
Business as usual is just not possible anymore. New Jersey’s underperforming economy, bloated public sector spending and rising cost of living, along with Congress’s decision to reduce the state and local tax deduction, are forcing our collective hands to do better. There is no better place to start than at home in our local municipalities and school districts, where consolidations and sharing of services can produce both real financial savings and better outcomes. Simultaneously, state and county governments need to do likewise. Taxpaying businesses and residents deserve accountability, and this may require audits of how and where every dollar of taxpayer money is being spent.
With the incredible growth of this sector in recent years, could logistics help make New Jersey cliff-proof? I think so, but only if we take steps to address serious workforce challenges, especially those related to affordability and accessible transportation. With the increasing likelihood of a recession in 2020, we need to act now. The importance of the port region to New Jersey’s economy cannot be overstated, and continued investment is critical. We also need to solve the “last mile” conundrum that presents transportation and lifestyle challenges.
No one infrastructure project has the potential to cripple our economy, disrupt our lives, lower real estate values and drive employers to seek alternative locations than the Gateway Project to expand and repair the Hudson River rail tunnels and replace the Portal North Bridge. Why, then, haven’t our local, state and national leaders yet secured the funding, approvals and entitlements needed to get this project done, despite the wakeup call back in 2012 when Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on a single tunnel in an area responsible for 20 percent of the U.S. GDP?
Experts see a significant conundrum in the office market, as every economic indicator used to forecast absorption performed at or above the forecast level. Further, closely related macroeconomic variables — such as office-using employment — grew steadily, meaning that more office employees were added without much corresponding space leased over the previous six months. While the first quarter reading of just 1.3 million square feet absorbed may be a one-time anomaly, it cannot be ruled out that a structural shift in the office space market has occurred or is occurring.
Supply or cargo chains are complex ecosystems involving multiple organizations, infrastructure modes, carriers and workers that comprise the movement of commodities from their point of origin (factory, farm, mine, etc.) to the retailer and consumer. They include beneficial cargo owners (BCOs), ocean carriers, port authorities, regulatory agencies, marine terminal operators, port labor, rail and motor carriers, warehouse, distribution, fulfillment and e-commerce centers and retail businesses. A problem at any link in this chain can cause the entire system to back up.
I am convinced more than ever that forward-thinking New Jersey suburbs are poised for a comeback. Many city residents, especially those in their 20s and 60s will seek alternate residences. Towns that have invested in their infrastructure and assets for the long term and are ready to accommodate this exodus of consumers and their preferences will be able to compete for this wealth of talent and the resources they bring to the community.
In listening to the presentations by the eight finalists for NAIOP’s annual Deal of the Year competition, what struck me most was the collaborative nature and level of cooperation that is taking place among all the participants in both the public and private sectors. It wasn’t always this way.