Emanuel Klein (left), co-founder of The Fountain Group, and Philip Evanski, managing member of Equis Realty Partners LLC — Courtesy: PEEK Development
By Joshua Burd
Two New Jersey real estate firms have joined forces with a focus on the new federal Opportunity Zone program, having already teed up more than $85 million in multifamily investments.
The operators, Equis Realty Partners LLC and The Fountain Group LLC, announced the new investment, development and management entity known as PEEK Development. The joint venture said it aims to address the region’s housing needs through traditional development, but also by leveraging the tax benefits of the Opportunity Zone program.
Already, the entity has projects under contract spanning more than 300 market-rate units, according to a news release. Philip Evanski, managing member of Equis Realty, and Emanuel Klein, co-founder of The Fountain Group, are spearheading the joint venture.
“Together with Equis Realty Partners’ operational and finance experience and our development expertise, PEEK is in a very unique position,” said Klein, whose firm is based in Teaneck. “We are addressing the housing-stock needs of local municipalities by transforming a distressed-building landscape into high-quality, income-producing properties to benefit the local economy and its resident base.”
Included as part of last year’s federal tax reform bill, the Opportunity Zone program seeks to drive long-term capital investments to low-income and distressed areas, in part by allowing investors to defer and potentially reduce taxes on capital gains from an unrelated investment. The federal government has approved 169 census tracts in New Jersey that qualify for such projects.
“Partnering with The Fountain Group is a win-win because of their expertise when it comes to knowledge of New Jersey’s urban-core municipalities as well as their extremely impressive track record for getting projects completed and delivered to market,” Evanski said.
Klein serves as vice president of the three-year-old East Orange Property Owners Association, while Evanski serves as the group’s president and founding board member.
The Fountain Group, which Klein founded in 2015, is a real estate investment, management and development firm focused on multifamily and mixed-use assets in northern New Jersey. The company has developed and managed more than 700 units and has a pipeline of projects valued at more than $70 million.
Evanski’s six-year-old, Jersey City-based firm, Equis Realty Partners, owns and manages a portfolio of apartments throughout the region. Its strategy typically involves extensive value-add capital improvements in order that maximize property repositioning.
Under the Opportunity Zone program, investors who redeploy capital gains into a qualified fund can defer taxes through Dec. 31, 2026. Those taxes can be reduced by as much as 15 percent at that point if they have held the investment for at least seven years.
Investors also have the chance to exclude the gains on all appreciation of the Opportunity Zone fund if they hold their investment for at least 10 years.