From left: Structure Tone Vice President Client Services Erik Sletteland, former Pfizer CFO Frank D’Amelio, United Way of Northern New Jersey CEO Kiran Handa Gaudioso, Greater Trenton Senior Vice President Bryan Evans, United Way Senior Vice President of Resource Development George Xuereb, JLL Managing Partner Blake Goodman and Turner Construction Co. Vice President of Global Development Team Mark Romanski attend the 22nd annual United Way Commercial Real Estate Network Legacy Event. — Photo by Karen Fucito/Courtesy of United Way of Northern New Jersey
By Joshua Burd
Mark Romanski took the stage Friday to receive the United Way of Northern New Jersey’s Spirit of Philanthropy Award, evoking the names of past honorees before recalling the origins of the chapter’s Commercial Real Estate Network Legacy Event.
More than 20 years ago, he said, developer Mark Yeager and the United Way’s Theresa Leamy came together with the belief that the real estate sector had much more to give to the organization than the individual contributions and fundraising that it currently provided.
“That does some good,” said Romanski, a vice president with Turner Construction Co.’s Global Development Team. “But collectively … (as) developers, brokers, architects, engineers, contractors, owner reps, furniture vendors, movers, if we’re able to band together and work as one, we could make a formidable team and really move the needle, really make a difference in the lives of everyone who needs the help.
“And with everyone’s hard work, we have moved the needle,” he added. “And this event has grown into one of the premier New Jersey networking events in our industry.”
Those efforts were clearly on display as some 400 turned out for the annual spring luncheon, raising more than $365,000 in support of asset-limited, income-constrained, employed individuals, or ALICE. Those on hand included many of the state’s top development executives and service providers, who descended on the Hilton Parsippany for the United Way of Northern New Jersey’s first in-person Commercial Real Estate Network Legacy Event since 2019.
In the process, they honored Romanski, a trustee of the chapter and co-chair of its real estate committee, and two of the state’s highest-profile development projects from the past year. Receiving the organization’s Impact Award were Valley Bank’s new headquarters in Morristown, where it will lease a 120,000-square-foot building developed by SJP Properties and Scotto Properties, and Bridge Industrial’s 2.2 million-square-foot logistics park in Warren County known as Bridge Point 78.
Friday’s event also featured a conversation with former Pfizer Chief Financial Officer Frank D’Amelio, who was interviewed by Greater Trenton Senior Vice President Bryan Evans, rounding out an event that included 37 sponsors.
“Since before the pandemic, we knew that ALICE struggled,” said George Xuereb, the United Way of Northern New Jersey’s Senior Vice President for Resource Development. “Often ALICE did not get to choose to work remotely and ALICE showed up in jobs that were riskier than most. At the United Way of Northern New Jersey, we have made a commitment to show up for ALICE through signature fundraisers such as this luncheon.”
He added that, during the last two years of holding the event remotely, “this industry continued to stand by us and we raised over $560,000 for our programs.” He also noted that the CRE Legacy Event has now raised nearly $4 million since its founding.
“The money you raise has a tremendous impact on our work,” he added. “With your support, we’re able help ALICE workers better manage the challenges of balancing work and caregiving, help stay in the workforce and help build a pathway to financial stability.”
The Valley Bank headquarters team received the Commercial Impact Award for transforming a string of vacant Morristown structures into a new, modern headquarters for Valley Bank, bringing 400 construction jobs and more than 600 employees to the area. The winning team includes SJP Properties, Scotto Properties, Valley Bank, Newmark, Walsh Co., Gensler, Barr & Barr, Sills Cummis & Gross PC, Thornton Tomasetti, AMA Group, Stonefield Engineering and Design, Syska Hennessy Group and Cerami & Associates Inc.
The Bridge Point 78 team received the Industrial Impact Award for its extensive remediation and transformation of a former brownfield site in Phillipsburg and Lopatcong Township into 2.2 million square feet of Class A industrial space for high-profile tenants, according to the United Way. The winning team includes Bridge Industrial, CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, JLL, Mark Anthony Brands, OMLog, ScottsMiracle-Gro, UNIQLO, Cornerstone Architects Ltd., Dynamic Engineering Consultants PC and PREMIER Design + Build Group.
The winning projects were among seven combined finalists within the award’s commercial and industrial categories. The other commercial finalists were CSG Law’s headquarters at 105 Eisenhower Parkway in Roseland, Edge Works at SciTech Scity at 222 Jersey City Blvd. in Jersey City and PIM Brands Inc.’s global headquarters at 225 Brae Blvd. in Park Ridge, while the other industrial finalists were Bob’s Discount Furniture at 150 Old New Brunswick Road in Piscataway and Phillipsburg Logistics Center at 78, at 39 Stryker Road in Lopatcong.