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Report finds N.J. retail market gathering strength

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New Jersey's retail real estate market continues to strengthen, as vacancy rates decline and new restaurants and specialty retailers are attracted to the state's strong demographics, said Chuck Lanyard, president of the Goldstein Group, the Paramus-based commercial real estate brokerage.

Chuck Lanyard

"A lot of new retailers are coming to New Jersey for the first time and taking advantage of some really good deals," Lanyard said. Retail lease rates declined in New Jersey and nationwide during the recession, and as the economy improves, rents are starting to rise, but landlords continue to offer incentives, he said.

"For a long time, New Jersey rents were so much higher that people were shy about trying to do deals in New Jersey. But because of the strong demographics that we have, and the reduced rents as a result of the economic downturn, rents are lower and landlords are creating incentives for tenants," Lanyard said. "Landlords with national tenants are participating in tenant improvement allowances, which give tenants some capital to build out their stores."

See also: The Bergen retail landscape in our June 3 Real Estate & Construction Report

Twice a year, the Goldstein Group surveys retail vacancies in New Jersey, canvassing about 92 million square feet of space on 25 highways. In January the vacancy rate was 7.9 percent, and when the next report comes out in July "we are projecting that the rate will be down to about 7.7 percent," compared to about 10 percent nationally.

Retailers entering the New Jersey market include the fast-casual restaurants Garbanza and Blaze Pizza, and Hobby Lobby, a crafting store. Lanyard said "a lot of the vacant big boxes are leasing up — the former Pathmarks and larger boxes that were empty are now filling up again."

Recent leasing transactions by the Goldstein Group include Planet Fitness, in Clifton; Family Dollar, in Rutherford; Marburn Curtains, in Paramus; and Panchero's Mexican Grill, in Watchung.

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Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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