NAIOP New Jersey hosted its 36th Annual Commercial Real Estate Awards Gala on Thursday, May 18, drawing a registered crowd of more than 800 to The Palace at Somerset Park in Franklin Township. — Photo by Gary Gellman, Gellman Images/Courtesy: NAIOP
By Joshua Burd
As you might expect in a room packed with property owners, deal makers and service providers, partnership was a common theme at NAIOP New Jersey’s 36th Annual Commercial Real Estate Awards Gala.
That was clear from the remarks of every honoree and every winner of the chapter’s coveted Deal of the Year awards.
“I believe that the real impact that we have had is simple,” said New Brunswick Development Corp. President Chris Paladino, who was recognized for his role in transformative projects in New Brunswick, Atlantic City and elsewhere. “We are leaving cities where we work better than we found them, and this is the impact that NAIOP fosters — the impact that so many of you in this room have had in places where we’ve worked.”
Paladino, who received the organization’s Impact Award, was among five individual honorees at this year’s gala, which drew a registered crowd of more than 800 to The Palace at Somerset Park in Franklin Township. The chapter this year also presented Cushman & Wakefield Executive Vice Chairman Robert Donnelly with the Charles Klatskin Lifetime Achievement Award, Jacobs Enterprises Inc. President George Jacobs with the Impact Award, Sills Cummis & Gross PC Land Use Group Co-Chair Meryl A.G. Gonchar with the Industry Service Award and Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver with the Caren S. Franzini Public Partner Award.
Additionally, the organization unveiled its Deal of the Year winners in the office and industrial sectors, as well as a third that was presented as a special selection by judges.
- Avis Budget Group at Latitude in Parsippany: Avis Budget Group relocated its world headquarters to Latitude, a state-of-the-art, 700,000-square-foot office complex owned by Vision Real Estate Partners and Rubenstein Partners. The creative office condominium transaction resulted in the retention of 600 New Jersey jobs and significant financial benefits to the occupier, owner and the state.
- Involved in the deal: Vision Real Estate Partners, Rubenstein Partners, Newmark, CBRE, Charles Applebaum, Esq., Fox Rothschild LLP, Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis LLP and Giordano Halleran & Ciesla PC
- Home Depot’s lease at Monroe 8A Logistics Center in Monroe: One of the largest warehouses in New Jersey, Monroe 8A Logistics Center, a 1.28 million-square-foot industrial development by Brookfield Properties, was able to secure — with the aid of JLL as its leasing team — a long-term lease with Home Depot, which was represented by CBRE.
- Involved in the deal: Brookfield Properties, JLL, Sansone, QuadReal, Colliers, and Apollo
- Fiserv New Jersey headquarters at The Park in Berkeley Heights: Fiserv Inc.’s 411,954-square-foot, long-term lease at The Park was New Jersey’s largest new office lease in 2022. Fiserv’s financial technology hub, one of the largest on the East Coast, will bring together existing and future New Jersey employees as they collaborate and innovate in an inspiring workplace environment.
- Involved in the deal: Cushman & Wakefield; The Connell Co., Fiserv, VVA Project Management Co., GS Ferguson Group LLC, Mancini Duffy, Ted Moudis & Associates, Structure Tone, Robert Derector Associates and Husch Blackwell LLP
“Our honorees truly represent the best of real estate and economic development,” said Mark Shearer, Rockefeller Group’s senior managing director for New Jersey and Pennsylvania and NAIOP New Jersey chapter president. “We are inspired by their commitment to excellence in transforming New Jersey communities. All of them will have a lasting impact on our state, our industry and our association.”
This year’s event also recognized CEO Michael McGuinness, who will step down this summer after more than 25 years as the chapter’s leader and will be succeeded by Dan Kennedy, currently a senior director at the Utility & Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey. Presenters and honorees praised McGuinness as a constant in an organization that is critical to the industry, citing its advocacy and its platform for networking, dealmaking and education.
“Standing outside, whenever people would walk up to him, they would say to him, ‘You’ve really made a difference in my life.’” said Peter Cocoziello, founder and CEO of Advance Realty Investors. “There are so many people you’ve connected with, and that’s really a tribute to your leadership and what you’ve done.”
Donnelly, who received the chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award, recognized his family and team at Cushman & Wakefield as he reflected on more than four decades with the real estate services firm. He also echoed the importance of “the relationships and friendships I’ve been able to gain through this business” and the connections that have shaped his career, from serving as the agency broker for Morristown’s Headquarters Plaza for some 42 years to representing AT&T as a corporate occupier since 1992.
“If it hasn’t come through in my comments, I just have to say, I love this business. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s competitive,” said Donnelly, a titan of the state’s brokerage community. “You have the thrill of the hunt, then you make the deal and life goes on. But the best part of it all are the people.
“And those people — the brokers, the developers, the lawyers, the architects, all of you in this audience — we literally create what I think is the most exciting industry, certainly in the state, maybe in the world. It dwarfs the stock market — it makes the stock market look like a candy store. So thank you for this honor and thank you for making this so much fun.”