Covering real estate had never crossed my mind when I came out of school and started as a metro reporter in Middlesex County. But it wasn’t long before I found myself at council meetings and planning board hearings, listening to developers make their pitch to a town.
As many of you undoubtedly know, those meetings could last hours on end. And it was eye-opening to watch the utter confusion, apprehension and fierce opposition that would fill the room when it concerned a multifamily project that included affordable housing.
As I sit here a decade later, there’s still plenty of confusion over affordable housing, an issue that is now front and center for hundreds of towns in New Jersey. There’s still much apprehension and opposition, too, but as you’ll find out in this month’s cover story, more than 100 towns across the state are presumably on track to chip away at these obligations after years of uncertainty.
To be completely fair, they didn’t have much of a choice. It was two years ago that the state Supreme Court shut down the Council on Affordable Housing and took matters into the hands of the judiciary, forcing towns to the negotiating table with housing advocates and developers. But it could pave the way for dozens of projects to move forward across the state.
You’ll hear from local officials, builders and insiders who are watching this unfold, but they also remind us that there’s no such thing as a guarantee when it comes to affordable housing in New Jersey. That path forward is still fraught with questions: Can the market support thousands of new units in the coming years? What will happen to the tax credits and other tools that we use to finance affordable housing? What about the 200 municipalities that still haven’t settled?
In other words, this is only the beginning of life after COAH — yes, even for an issue that has been around for more than 40 years. You’ll find that story in the pages that follow. And it’s not the only place where we highlight the intersection of government and commercial real estate. On page 12, we detail a new program that could help retail leasing in five New Jersey cities. On page 25, in our Personalities section, we sit down with Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac, one of the state’s most pro-business public officials.
As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of Real Estate NJ. And don’t forget to visit www.RE-NJ.com, where you’ll find these stories and all of our day-to-day coverage of the state’s thriving commercial real estate sector. We welcome your feedback, news and story ideas. Thanks for reading!