River Development Equities’ proposal for a 44-acre redevelopment in East Brunswick includes a hotel with outdoor dining, as depicted in this conceptual rendering. — Courtesy: River Development Equities LLC
I’ve grown accustomed to the fact that most of the big-ticket development projects are concentrated in northern New Jersey, so I never seem to mind when a story brings me just a little farther south to my old home of Middlesex County.
One of my latest trips came in early February when I ventured to East Brunswick, an area that I know well from childhood and from covering it as a young reporter. The occasion? Local officials and their designated developer, River Development Equities, were unveiling what could become one of the state’s largest projects in recent years — a $500 million plan to raze and repurpose 44 acres of blighted retail property along Route 18. I know firsthand that such a project is a long time coming, as someone who saw many of the highway’s strip malls and big-box stores deteriorate over time. So it came as no surprise that township leaders and the developer were seemingly in lockstep and eager as ever to get the project underway.
River Development’s Warren Waters said it best.
“It’s New Jersey,” he said. “Nothing happens overnight, although I have to say, in East Brunswick, you have to run to catch up with them, not the other way around.”
As you’ll read in this month’s cover story, the project aims to revive what should be prime real estate, one that hugs a highway with daily traffic of 100,000 vehicles. River Development is now focused on acquiring the parcels within the redevelopment zone, where plans call for a dynamic, mixed-use destination with residential, commercial and hotel components, along with a mass transit hub and a network of trails and park space.
Our February issue also features an interview with Bill Bumber, a veteran development executive who recently joined Advance Realty Investors. He is now tasked with spearheading the firm’s pipeline of industrial projects, including a high-profile, 4.1 million-square-foot logistics park in Linden. Advance and its partners, Greek Development and PGIM Real Estate, are now set to begin vertical construction, meaning interest at the site is set to rise to another level.
Elsewhere in this issue, we bring you an update on the Rutgers Center for Real Estate, which is marking just over five years since its launch. Backed by a stable of high-powered industry advisers, the program has grown to more than 500 students during the current academic year after starting virtually from scratch in 2014. The center’s leaders now have their sights set on continued growth on all fronts, but know they must navigate the challenges of fundraising and scaling up their operation in order to do so.
You can find those stories and more in our February issue. With the year well underway, January proved to be a busy month for New Jersey commercial real estate news. Early February has seemingly followed suit, so let’s hope that’s a sign of things to come for the rest of 2020. As always, thank you for reading and please continue to share your questions, feedback and story ideas. Enjoy the issue!