By Joshua Burd
A veteran development executive has joined Kushner Cos., bolstering its team as the firm continues to grow its pipeline in the region and throughout the East Coast.
Michael Sommer, who brings 25 years of experience, comes to the firm as its executive vice president for development and construction. He joins Kushner from Cedar Realty Trust, a Port Washington, New York-based real estate investment trust, following posts with Edison Properties and other well-known New Jersey real estate companies.
In his new role, he said he is especially excited about the firm’s ambitious growth plans on the development and construction front.
“I’m looking forward to a great opportunity where a company is really looking to expand activities that are already very robust,” said Sommer, who will work out of Kushner’s Manhattan and Florham Park offices. “And that’s certainly the case here.”
He added that the firm “is incredibly well-capitalized, incredibly well-connected and has a pipeline both in New Jersey and in the South Florida market that are almost unmatched. So to be able to step into an already successful existing team, to add my skillset to the mix and to contribute in a meaningful way from day one in order to move things forward is really incredibly appealing.”
Kushner’s list of high-profile projects include One Journal Square, a massive mixed-use development in Jersey City that would include more than 1,700 apartments. The two-tower project won final approval from the city’s planning board last week after a multiyear delay and legal battle, paving the way for construction to begin as soon as June.
“That in and of itself is a very, very exciting project,” Sommer said, noting that Kushner’s development team is focused on both the New York metro market and on locales such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach County, where it has several projects in different phases of predevelopment.
Sommer has developed more than 8 million square feet of residential, retail and office space during his career, which includes having managed the development of more than 4,000 residential units. He most recently served as senior vice president of development and construction with Cedar Realty Trust, a REIT whose footprint stretches from Boston to Washington D.C.
Before Cedar, Sommer was executive vice president of development at Edison Properties, where he led the redevelopment of the award-winning Ironside Newark project in Newark. He also served as managing director of development at Advance Realty after having started his career at Premier Development.
With Kushner, Sommer said he is grateful to join a team with “incredible talents across disciplines” — such as acquisitions, finance, development and construction and operations — adding that the firm is focused on acquisitions throughout the country. He also described it as “a company that always seeks to be a great partner with the communities in which we work.”
What’s more, he said he is eager to return to the New Jersey and New York City markets, where he spent so much of his career.
“Of course I welcome the opportunity to be working in Florida as well, but my main focus will be in the New York metro area,” Sommer said, adding: “And over the last couple of years, really having been focused on Philadelphia and Washington D.C. — I will say that coming back to Jersey and to New York is going to be really refreshing.”
Sommer earned an MBA from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University and a bachelor’s in economics and business from Lafayette College.