Gov. Phil Murphy speaks in early 2018 during a press conference at the Madison train station. — Courtesy: Governor’s Office
By Joshua Burd
NJ Transit has tapped a former real estate investment trust executive as its first-ever head of real estate and development, seeking to spur new revenue streams and revitalize the many underused parcels around its train stations.
The agency announced Tuesday that Carmen Taveras will serve as its chief of real estate, economic development and transit-oriented development, effective Nov. 18. She joins NJ Transit from Wereldhave USA, a subsidiary of a European-based public REIT, filling a new post that was created by state legislation last November.
“NJ Transit is proud to welcome Carmen Taveras as the agency’s first Chief of Real Estate, Economic Development and Transit Oriented Development,” Kevin Corbett, the agency’s CEO and president, said in a prepared statement. “Carmen brings a wealth of experience to the job and will be a huge asset in our vision to more aggressively use TOD to develop underutilized properties around transit, optimize the value of assets across the state, and generate additional non-farebox revenue, which will ultimately benefit our customers.”
Taveras leads a newly created office tasked with assessing and developing recommendations for transit-oriented development opportunities for sites in which NJ Transit holds an interest, with the goal of monetizing its assets and increasing the agency’s non-farebox revenue. She has more than 20 years of experience managing real estate portfolios and land development across U.S. market sectors and asset class.
While at Wereldhave USA, Taveras’ responsibilities included managing a large staff of direct and indirect personnel, developing and executing the operating and investment strategy for the U.S. portfolio and leading acquisitions, ground-up construction and property valuations, according to a news release. Additionally, she chaired the Wereldhave USA board of directors for seven years.
During her career at the REIT, her notable transactions included the sale of 20 Exchange Place, a 56-story office tower in New York City’s Financial District, and the development of 120 acres of raw land in San Antonio, the news release said. There, she worked closely with the local community, government authorities and the Department of Transportation to achieve a master plan for a 1.8 million-square-foot sustainable, mixed-use project costing some $500 million.
Taveras holds a degree in accounting and finance/business administration from St. John’s University in New York.