Tim Touhey makes no secret of the threat faced by the New Jersey Builders Association as the Garden State navigated “what probably was the most devastating time in the history of housing,” the 2008 recession. The group maintained its ranks, but “the concern from our perspective was how long that downturn would have a severe impact on the survival of the association.”
"I can tell you that we're on the other side of that now, both from a financial perspective and as a group," said Touhey, who steps down next week after six years as CEO of the builders association. "And (we're) beginning to realize that there is a percolation of recovery going on in the housing industry, so that I kept it alive and relevant is one major accomplishment I'm very proud of."
Touhey and the NJBA announced today he will join Investors Bank as a senior vice president. The bank, based in the Short Hills section of Millburn, said Touhey will lead a growing real estate finance unit as Investors expands into central and southern New Jersey, coinciding with its pending acquisition of Roma Financial Corp.
The former Fannie Mae executive said he was proud to have helped bring attention in Trenton to the importance of the state's development community. During his time at the helm, the NJBA lobbied for key legislation, including three permit extension acts, a law to speed the foreclosure process and another that allowed developers and towns to convert age-restricted housing projects to housing without such restrictions.
Touhey said those bills allowed the industry to "keep a lot of businesses alive" during the recession. He also pointed to the importance of incentives legislation like the Urban Transit Hub tax credit program, which benefited the group's emerging multifamily sector and dovetailed with the birth of its Mixed-Use Developers Association offshoot in 2011.
"Creating the MXD affiliate will be part of the growth membership of our association," he said. "I think it was critical at the time and very important."
Investors announced late last year it would acquire Roma Bank, based in Robbinsville. Touhey will lead an expanding team of lending officers at that location who will finance real estate in central and southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Rich Spengler, Investors chief lending officer, called it "a perfect storm, to tell you the truth — the combination of Roma and Tim being available both at the same time." He said Touhey "has worked in Trenton, he's a known entity down there, and we just think this was a perfect fit for us."
"The fact that these two forces collided at the same time made this an easy decision," Spengler said.