For Carl Goldberg, joining the New Jersey Builders Association some 30 years ago was an opportunity to not only network with fellow development professionals, but with regulators in state government.
That became clear very quickly.
The first committee he served on was the NJBA’s environmental committee, at a time when the Department of Environmental Protection was crafting policies to protect the state’s wetlands. That meant Goldberg would meet several times a year with the DEP commissioner and other administrators.
“Human nature being what it is, you sit in these committee meetings once a quarter over a period of two or three or four years, and you begin to develop relationships,” he said. “And you begin to understand the mindset of how the building industry is regulated and you get involved in legislative issues, and it’s a tool that allows you to become more valuable to the company that you’re working for.”
Goldberg, who at the time was working for BNE Associates, called that experience “an integral part of my career advancement.” And his role with the NJBA has evolved, to say the least, as has his career and standing in New Jersey’s business community: Today, he is among the state’s most accomplished and influential developers, one who is highly respected in political and legislative circles.
It’s why the NJBA honored Goldberg last week as part of a fundraiser for its Builders Political Action Committee of New Jersey. Held at the Vail Mansion in Morristown, the event drew a who’s who of fellow developers, service professionals and lawmakers who have worked with Goldberg over more than three decades — highlighting his place at the intersection of politics and commercial real estate.
The honor comes as Goldberg continues to look to the future: He recently formed Canoe Brook Advisors after spending decades with the former Roseland Property Co., and he co-chairs the executive committee of the quickly growing Rutgers Center for Real Estate.
It’s why Carol Ann Short, CEO of the builders association, said the timing was right to honor the industry veteran.
“His goal is to reinvigorate the PAC,” Short said. “He wants to make sure the NJBA is in a position to promote housing policy that is good for everyone in New Jersey, that will provide places for people to live and work — from entry level to luxury and everything in between — for rent, for sale, all avenues, to provide safe, affordable, decent places to live and work.
“So that’s his focus, and it’s ours as well.”
She added that it was critical that Goldberg was “generous enough to give us this opportunity to raise funds to replenish our PAC, so that we can do the job that the NJBA and the BPAC is there to do.”
“He’s clear we need a very well-funded PAC — we need to promote state incentives that will make housing more affordable and deliver shelter across the board,” Short said. “So, in doing that, we need to make sure we’re mindful of those candidates that have the unique capacity, have the understanding and the willingness to improve housing conditions in the state but stimulating housing production.”
Goldberg, who chairs the PAC, said he took up that role as the years went on because “I was very interested in legislative issues that impacted our industry’s ability to deliver quality housing for the residents of New Jersey.” He noted that there have always been policy issues involving the association that have been controversial — such as wetlands, affordable housing and construction codes — and being involved with the PAC allowed him to interact with key lawmakers.
Those relationships were important because they ensured that “the people who were writing these bills had an appreciation from the industry’s perspective of how those bills would impact our ability to deliver housing to the residents of the state.”
That impact was highlighted by several speakers at the Nov. 5 event, as were Goldberg’s personal relationships with executives and policymakers across the state. Chief among them was his friendship with U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, who was the mayor of West New York two decades ago when Roseland began to transform the Hudson waterfront in the town and in neighboring Weehawken.
“The best thing about this relationship that I have with Carl is that we developed a friendship beyond the fact that I was a mayor and he was a developer,” Sires said. “He’s been very good to me over the years, and we’ve worked together on a number of issues.”
Short added that “Carl’s name is virtually synonymous with building in New Jersey and building up New Jersey to what it is today.” That has meant his reach now extends far beyond any one project, industry or public policy.
“It seems as if everybody has a connection and a warm story with Carl, a history with Carl,” she said. “So he has really made a tremendous impact on many, many folks — not just in the real estate industry, but more broadly than that.”
“And it’s not just professional. It’s personal and professional. So he is the ultimate statesman.”