The debate over New Jersey’s corporate incentive programs has been well-chronicled in recent years, but regardless of where you fall on the issue, there’s no denying their influence on the state’s commercial real estate market.
That influence was all but gone for two years after Grow New Jersey and other subsidy programs were allowed to expire in summer 2019, with no immediate replacements in sight until Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers agreed on new incentives late last year. The state is now putting those offerings to work, starting with the jobs-based Emerge program that will fill the void left by Grow New Jersey.
Exactly how much of the void will be filled remains to be seen, but it’s a question we attempt to tackle in this month’s cover story. As you’ll read, the state has approved its first two awards under the new Emerge program, including a high-profile, $109 million tax credit for Fiserv that will allow the fintech giant to create a new hub in Berkeley Heights. State officials and other insiders say there are more awards to come, but caution that New Jersey may not see a flurry of new applications in the near term. For one thing, Emerge was designed to be more discerning and targeted than its predecessor, given concerns about excessive subsidies of the past. Experts also point to the complexity of the application process — again, by design — and the time needed for businesses, attorneys and brokers to get up to speed on the new program.
In other words, be patient. There are likely more high-profile awards on the way that could breathe new life into suburban office parks or bring jobs to a major city, but they may take some time.
Our October issue also features an interview with the leaders of the New Jersey Builders Association, as the group marked the return of the Atlantic Builders Convention after an 18-month hiatus. According to CEO Jeff Kolakowski and Josh Mann, NJBA’s board president, members were eager to return and reap the benefits of in-person networking. The conference also figured to provide a forum for the association’s top issue, New Jersey’s undersupplied housing stock and the affordability crisis that comes with it. As Mann and Kolakowski note, the pandemic shined a light on such challenges, making them all the more timely as thousands of homebuilders, service providers and vendors prepared to descend on Atlantic City.
Elsewhere in this edition, we detail Fidelco Realty Group’s latest investment in downtown Newark — namely, in the north end of the central business district. Following its purchase of a well-known, 18-story office tower at 550 Broad St., the company has kicked off a $30 million upgrade of the property. That includes a full renovation, new flexible workspace for startups and the addition of an upscale bar and restaurant in the lobby, in a project that promises to create a new destination for office users.
You can find those stories and more in our October issue. As always, we encourage you to subscribe to The Briefing, our daily email blast, to help you stay up to date on all the latest industry news in New Jersey.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the issue!