Page 16 - 2021 Spotlight NJ's Top Law Firms
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14 MARCH 2021
Larken sees towns in central, western New Jersey as growth markets for luxury rentals
Larken Associates knows Lopatcong well. The Branchburg-based developer
has been doing business in that
part of Warren County for about 20 years, building over 1,000 mostly for-sale homes, age-restricted homes, townhouses and condos, CEO and President David Gardner said.
So as the firm moved into luxury apartments, the township was
a natural location. Its new development, Autumn Ridge, is a mix of 198 market-rate and age-restricted rentals at 1500 Hyde Blvd., offering the types of amenities you’d find in an established urban submarket.
“We’ve been trying to up the game for suburban apartments by bringing
in all sorts of amenities and really first-class finishes, more in line with what you see on the Gold Coast in Jersey City and Hoboken,” Gardner said. Yet the larger properties
offer more room for dog parks
and walking trails, he added, and “with the interstate system in New Jersey, nothing’s really that far from anything.”
Larken is taking that approach
with its pipeline of more than 1,000 apartments at properties across New Jersey and Pennsylvania, following
a decades-long focus on commercial buildings and for-sale housing. The developer now has multifamily projects underway in communities such as Hillsborough, Readington and Bordentown, seeing continued
demand for upscale rentals in suburban settings.
Those plans are off to a promising start. Autumn Ridge, which began taking applications in October, offers 148 luxury apartments and
a 50-unit, age-restricted section known as Horizons at Autumn Ridge. Amenities include a clubhouse with an outdoor heated pool, a grilling station, a lounge and a dry bar, with monthly rents starting at $1,595. Gardner said that it was 88 percent leased as of mid-February.
What’s more, he said the complex
is well-situated because of nearby projects such as the redevelopment of the former Ingersoll Rand plant in Phillipsburg and Lopatcong, which is
slated for a six-building, 3.85 million- square-foot industrial park, and of the Phillipsburg Mall.
“We see it as boosting the employment in the area,” Gardner said, and people will need places to live.
In addition to its residential projects, Larken owns and leases buildings
in office, medical, industrial and retail centers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with a commercial portfolio of nearly 3 million square feet.
“I’ve always said that our business is half commercial-oriented and half residential-oriented,” said Gardner, the son of founder Lawrence W. Gardner. The pandemic has made retail more difficult, “but the residential, so far, knock on wood, we’ve been pretty successful.”
He has high hopes for the next multifamily project, Hillsborough Village Center, at 650 Route 206. The mixed-use property of duplex garage apartments, elevator apartments and 28,000 square feet of ground- level retail will feature a two-story clubhouse with a business center, a game room and a theater, along with a heated pool, a dog park and a pet salon. The 191-unit development is scheduled to open later this year.
Larken Associates is also familiar with this area, since its main office was in Hillsborough for 30 years.
“My father started building in Hillsborough in 1969,” Gardner said. Lawrence Gardner founded Larken Associates in 1965 and remains chairman of the board, while David Gardner joined the company in the 1980s.
Another project, the Oaks at Copper Chase, a 107-unit project renovating and expanding an existing complex in York, Pennsylvania, is planned
to open in the spring. It will feature high-end appliances, a new gym and
By Marlaina Cockcroft
 Larken Associates Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Lenny Tartamella (left) and David Gardner, the firm’s CEO and president, visit the mixed-use Hillsborough Village Center project at 650 Route 206 in Hillsborough.
Photo by Aaron Houston for Real Estate NJ

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