Power 75 (No. 25-11)
So, anything new with Kushner? Talk about a tough one to place: Kushner, the son-in-law of President-elect Donald Trump, may rank higher in influence in the federal government than he does in New Jersey real estate. And while some wondered if he may be too busy in New York, now the question is how much time will be spent in Washington, D.C. Regardless of the answer to any of those questions, this absolute remains: Kushner Cos. is a player in New Jersey real estate and Kushner is as well thought of as any of the other younger stars on the industry. “He’s extremely bright and clearly influential,” said one insider, before the election. “He’s one of the more impressive young men we have in the industry,” said another. “He’s bright and poised. I can’t say enough about him.”
So, anything new with Kushner? Talk about a tough one to place: Kushner, the son-in-law of President-elect Donald Trump, may rank higher in influence in the federal government than he does in New Jersey real estate. And while some wondered if he may be too busy in New York, now the question is how much time will be spent in Washington, D.C. Regardless of the answer to any of those questions, this absolute remains: Kushner Cos. is a player in New Jersey real estate and Kushner is as well thought of as any of the other younger stars on the industry. “He’s extremely bright and clearly influential,” said one insider, before the election. “He’s one of the more impressive young men we have in the industry,” said another. “He’s bright and poised. I can’t say enough about him.” Hartz Mountain Industries
President and chief operating officer
The head of Hartz Mountain figures to always be on the list. Milano, in his second year in the role, gets the call. “He’s proved that he’s, no question, running the business,” one insider said. That means transforming some of Hartz’s major properties in North Jersey. “They’ve made great strides. And even though a lot is out of New Jersey, they still own 35 million-plus square feet here. And they are still one of the largest landlords in the Meadowlands in all asset types.” And in the rough-and-tumble world of real estate, Milano gets many a compliment for his character. “A really quality guy,” said one insider. “A phenomenal guy,” said another. “Hartz is just one of those powerhouses in the state. They have to be on the list every year.” Mack-Cali Realty Corp.
Bill Mack wasn’t ranked last year. Or any year of this list. But, truth be told, the chairman of the state’s biggest REIT could have been No. 1 on any of them, if you follow the premise one insider always preaches. This year, we’re listening. “Remember who controls that entity: Bill Mack,” the source said, when asked to judge the difference in influence of the company’s CEO (Mitch Rudin) and its chief operating officer (Michael DeMarco). “If you’re really looking to see where the power is, he controls Mack-Cali. It wasn’t Mitch Hersch before, it isn’t one of the two new guys now. Bill Mack is the chairman. He appoints all the directors. He’s still calling the shots. Here in New Jersey, Bill Mack is the answer.” Garden Homes
It’s no surprise that he’s near David Mandelbaum on the list — many consider them two of a kind. “I don’t know what he’s been doing, but I know they are everywhere around the state,” the insider said of Garden Homes. Then there’s this: “He’s a power guy. They’re everywhere trying to do multifamily. They own so much they’ll be on the list forever.” Of course, Wilf may want to be on an even shorter list: Owners who have won a Super Bowl. His Minnesota Vikings started the 2016 season fast, but are struggling now. If nothing else, another source said, his role with the team has brought him out of the shadows. “Zygi has more of a public persona than in the past because of the Vikings, but it’s not like he’s been in Minnesota all this time,” one insider said. Interstate Properties
Here’s what we know: Mandelbaum is involved in as many real estate deals in the state as anyone. Here’s what we don’t know: Exactly how many it is and where they are. At least, that’s the annual assessment of many of the state’s supposed insiders. “He’s in the background of a lot of deals,” said one. “He’s still behind the deals, but I can’t point to one or two things that he’s out front of,” said another. And then there’s this: “It’s like a secretive choice,” a third insider said. “If you saw what Mandelbaum invested in, he might be No. 1.” Sills, Cummis & Gross
He’s the co-chair of real estate at Sills Cummis and the chair of the redevelopment law and public policy practice groups. An insider described him this way: The top real estate lawyer in New Jersey. “He’s easily the most connected real estate attorney in the state,” the insider said. “He can handle all sides of it, from making the connections, to organizing the deals, to influencing policy and legislation.” Zangari, another said, has built a powerful team. “He’s got over 30 real estate attorneys in Sills Cummis,” the fan said. “He’s on the business side of many deals and he’s still the go-to guy on incentives. There’s nothing he can’t do.” Ironstate Development Co.
He and his brother, Michael Barry, are a force. “He’s basically taken over his father’s company and taken it to another level,” one fan said. “What’s he doing on the Gold Coast is amazing.” Said another: “He’s a smart guy, well balanced, a nice human being. His father has schooled him in real estate and he learned well.” Nowadays, it appears he’s passing it along, too. “Whenever there is anything I want to know about urban multifamily, Dave is my first call,” one source said. “Ironstate continues to do great things, and I think they’re still incredibly focused on the Gold Coast.” Boraie Development
President; Vice president
Omar Boraie’s visionary lens on real estate in New Jersey is paying off again. Ahead of the curve on New Brunswick, Boraie is looking smart with two patient plays in Newark and Atlantic City. A $75 million project featuring 168 market-rate units is under construction in Newark and an $80 million, 250-unit project is under construction in Atlantic City. “Timing has been everything for Boraie,” one insider said. “They wouldn’t start in Newark or Atlantic City until they knew both places would be ready when their buildings were ready.” Omar Boraie has been a titan in New Jersey for decades and still plays a strong role in the family business. And while our insiders pay deference to him, they do so while acknowledging that his son, Wasseem Boraie, slowly is taking the leading role. “It’s been a smooth transition that has been happening for a while,” said one insider. “It happens in all businesses, but this is truly is family business first. Wasseem Boraie’s talent and skills assure the fact that Boraie Development will be a force for years to come.” There’s that, and another reason. “He’s a great negotiator, and he does it in a unique way. He’s tough but fair, polite and professional. He always seems to win and manages to do it with the other side feeling good.” Vision Real Estate Partners
Founder and managing member
It would be easy to identify Morreale as one of the new breed in New Jersey, having (again) made his mark in Whippany with the opening of the MetLife Investments building. There’s just one problem: One insider said that what makes Morreale great is the fact that he’s so much like the previous generation. “Of any real estate developer under the age of 55, he looks at real estate like the old-timers,” the insider said. “He can look at real estate projects, he can conceptualize their redevelopment in his head and he can do the numbers on the back of a napkin. And then you give it to all the young kids who do the analysis and the models and they come very close to the back of the napkin. Sam talks the language of the developers of New Jersey from the ’60s and ’70s; he has that old-school feel to him as a developer and it works.” That doesn’t mean he’s reached the end of the road. Far from it, one fan said. “He’s working on a couple of deals that might blow your mind.” Normandy Real Estate Partners
Founding managing partner
Two things kept coming up with Wentworth, an iconic player in the industry: 1) He’s still deeply involved in New Jersey real estate; and 2) It’s time to recognize his less-heralded partner, David Welsh, which we do at No. 39. “He is surprisingly and continually behind the deals and influential among a whole bunch of people,” one fan said. “He’s a titan in New Jersey. When you think of Normandy, you think of Finn.” In doing so, insiders acknowledge Wentworth’s influence stretches far beyond real estate, as evidenced by the fact he was co-chair of Chris Christie’s presidential bid along with close friend Jon Hanson. Rockefeller Group
Senior vice president
It's another big jump up. But one many felt was long overdue. “He's another next-generation leader and he's the president of NAIOP,” one admirer said. “He's everywhere, and he planted those seeds years ago.” Last year marked the opening of a major Summit Medical Group building. This year, he introduced a corporate housing community, a high-end hotel and a cancer center to be jointly run by Summit Medical and MD Anderson. And it's all being done on land in Florham Park that so many wanted to build on for so long. Machemer is getting it done. “He's definitely coming into his own in our business,” one insider said. SJP Properties
Founder, chairman and CEO
It’s always the same with Pozycki, a longtime heavy hitter on this list and previous No. 1 (2012). Some say he’s spending more time in New York; others say he’s still getting it done here. Everyone says he’s an icon. “He’s Steve Pozycki. When he moves, mountains move — and if you can’t move them, he’ll figure out how to move them,” one insider said. And he’s still active in New Jersey, having started construction on a second glass residential tower in Fort Lee, next to his 47-story luxury high-rise known as The Modern. “What he’s doing in Fort Lee is amazing,” said another fan, who is eager to see the future. “He’s got to decide what happens next, but no matter what, he is a titan of New Jersey real estate.” Somerset Development
Zucker continues to get recognition for the Bell Works project, which has been leasing at a steady pace. “I think Bell Labs is such a transformative property and he's gotten so much notoriety out of it,” one fan said. “He continues to find a way. That deal alone gets him up high. Everybody knows about it; it's a really cool building.” And it's not, another supporter said, the only thing Zucker is up to. “He deserves to be up high not only because of Bell Works,” the insider said. “He's doing Aberdeen and Somerville, too.” And while so much is coming together now, another source said Zucker deserves credit for his long-term plays. “He has been the patient guy. Everybody laughed when he bought the Wood-Ridge site because it was an environmental disaster. Today, it's being utilized heavily with a train station. That was a 10-year-plus odyssey. It required patient private money and a developer who understands government with a site like this. Ralph is somebody who understands policy. When he bought Bell Labs, everybody laughed. Look at it now.” Bridge Development Partners
Doing what no one else can do, or — perhaps — wants to do, is the impetus behind Milanaik’s big jump. And it speaks to the business model at Bridge. Here’s how one fan described it: “To have no income-producing property and to put such a heavy bet on industrial in New Jersey — buying land, and it doesn’t matter what the environmental condition is and it doesn’t matter what the level of improvement is needed — is incredible. He’s taking on all the risk that nobody is willing to take on these sites. He buys them, gets the buildings up quick and leases them before they are done. It’s his sheer will that makes them so successful. In the industrial world, Jeff is knocking it out of park with the value he’s creating, despite the difficulty level of the sites. These are Superfund sites, not just sites that have contamination. These are serious business sites that he’s putting back into production — and quickly.” Mack-Cali Realty Corp.
Rudin’s the other half (the equal half) of the Rudin-Michael DeMarco pairing that has helped Mack-Cali rebound. Rudin, as CEO, is a key part of dictating the moves of the state’s biggest REIT, moves that one insider said have a domino effect on the state. “They’re repositioning their portfolio so much, they are going to reposition real estate in New Jersey because of their repositioning,” the insider said. “That’s how powerful they are. What they do affects everything. Whatever Mack-Cali’s strategy is influences the strategies of other companies in New Jersey.” Size alone, another said, is the reason why the company occupies two spots in the Top 11. “Their sheer size warrants it,” the source said. “They occupy enough space that allows them to have this influence.”