A rendering of Riverton, a mixed-use retail village that is planned for a 418-acre site in Sayreville — Courtesy: North American Properties
By Joshua Burd
The developer seeking to build a $2.5 billion, mixed-use destination at a long-dormant site in Sayreville has tapped a veteran real estate executive to lead its leasing efforts at the site.
The firm, North American Properties, said Charles E. Cristella will serve as national director of leasing for what’s known as Riverton, which would repurpose 400 acres along the Raritan River and Raritan Bay, directly adjacent to the Garden State Parkway. The Mount Laurel resident brings some 25 years of retail leasing experience in the region and nationally, having spearheaded efforts at 10 high-profile regional shopping centers comprising 5.5 million square feet of gross leased area, totaling $550 million in redevelopment.
“I am very excited to play a key role in bringing Riverton to life by blending relevant national brands with local favorites into one immersive community,” Cristella said. “Jersey knows Jersey, and we are looking forward to bringing the best of Jersey to the heart of Jersey. Riverton’s connection to the waterfront combined with a series of community gathering spaces, diverse retail, entertainment and dining experiences will make it a go-to destination.”
The developer said planning, design, leasing and procurement are underway at Riverton and that it expects to break ground in spring 2022, with plans to blend retail, residential, office and hotel uses with an abundance of community amenities and gathering spaces. The Cincinnati, Ohio-based firm took over the site in 2017, a decade after O’Neill Properties Group set out to revitalize a property that sits under 24 lanes of traffic on the Parkway and routes 9 and 35.
The former developer’s plans never got off the ground. After being named redeveloper of the highly contaminated former paint pigment manufacturing complex, O’Neill spent tens of millions of dollars on its remediation, hoping to capture the promise of a location that is passed by 400,000 cars daily in the heart of central New Jersey.
In announcing the new addition to Riverton’s team, North American Properties touted Cristella’s skills in market research, demographic analysis and identifying and securing the right tenants and creative uses for each development project he oversees. Most recently, he developed and implemented leasing and merchandising strategies for six super-regional malls in the eastern U.S.: Westland Mall in Hialeah, Florida; the Mall at Wellington Green in Wellington, Florida; Northlake Mall in Charlotte, North Carolina; Blue Back Square in West Hartford, Connecticut; MacArthur Center in Norfolk, Virginia; and River Ridge in Lynchburg, Virginia.
NAP said Cristella has built strong relationships with industry leaders nationwide and in New Jersey, having done deals for properties such as the Shoppes at Union Hill in Denville, Shoppes at Cross Keys in Sicklerville, Shoppes at Hamilton, Shoppes at North Brunswick, Shoppes at Flemington and Shoppes at Old Bridge. He has also spearheaded remerchandising and redevelopment programs for Moorestown Mall, Cherry Hill Mall and Voorhees Town Center, all located in New Jersey.
“Charles has demonstrated the ability to deliver merchandising and leasing strategies for a range of retail projects, combining his industry-wide relationships and national market knowledge with a strong local perspective,” said Kevin Polston, project executive at Riverton. “Between his lifelong connections to the Philadelphia-New York corridor and his national reach, Charles is the ideal leasing professional to share our story with prospective end-users. Charles also is a great fit for our growing team at Riverton, as we build a fun and exciting place for people to live, work, shop, dine and play.”