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Power 75 (No. 50-26)

- Last modified: November 21, 2016 at 11:54 AM
#50. George Norcross (1)
#50. George Norcross (1)
Conner Strong & Buckelew
Executive chairman

From No. 1 to No. 50? Say it ain’t so. But don’t necessarily say it means Norcross’ power and influence in the state is any less. Last year, Norcross soared to the top of the list because of his leadership in getting so many companies to come to Camden. This year, he returns to his normal role as a force in business, politics, education, social issues and, of course, health care.
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Conner Strong & Buckelew
Executive chairman

From No. 1 to No. 50? Say it ain’t so. But don’t necessarily say it means Norcross’ power and influence in the state is any less. Last year, Norcross soared to the top of the list because of his leadership in getting so many companies to come to Camden. This year, he returns to his normal role as a force in business, politics, education, social issues and, of course, health care.
Otteau Valuation Group Inc.
President

Don’t worry about the ranking here, one admirer said, because Otteau is No. 1 at what he does, and no one else is close. “He is a voice that is most influential in New Jersey and could be on the rise. “If the economy is great, you don’t have to think that hard, but if the economy bumps, you have to think a lot. As our economy bumps and changes, more people will go to him. He’s very astute.”
CBRE
Executive vice president

Opper is another name given when asked about the next generation of stars in the industry. “He’s hitting it out of the park all the time,” said one fan. Said another: “He’s getting so many of the big deals, now you have to think about putting him on the list.” And then there was this one. “It’s about time. When I think of the brokers I want to work with, he always is on the short list.”
Cushman & Wakefield
Executive vice president

If you’re looking for a next-generation leader, some insiders say look to Gary Gabriel at Cushman & Wakefield. “He’s more out front at Cushman & Wakefield these days,” said one fan. “There are a lot of players looking to come up. Watch Gary Gabriel, I think he’s the most talented. He’s every bit as important to Cushman.”
Newmark Grubb Knight Frank
Vice chairman and COO

The longtime broker is a longtime member of this list. And for good reason, sources say. “He’s always at the right place at the right time, most of the time,” one insider said. “Newmark is in a competitive market; a bunch of people want to be in that spot. David is a phenomenal broker and helps keep them there.”
CBRE
Executive vice president

Babikian returns to the list, correcting what some felt was an oversight a year ago. “After Dan Loughlin, I bet Babikian is the next office leasing broker of note,” one insider said. “He’s getting a lot of deals done and he’s doing it while maintaining being a good guy.” Said another: “If you’re looking for new names for the next decade, Babikian is a good place to start.”
Cushman & Wakefield
Executive vice chairman

This longtime icon returns to the list. And if you think Donnelly’s biggest days are behind him, think again, said one insider. Donnelly still knows the art of the deal. “He’s still active; he did MetLife,” the insider said. “He may not be as prominent as he was, but are you going to penalize a guy because he’s been around a while? He’s still doing big deals.”
Cushman & Wakefield
Vice chairman

Merin is a longtime regular on the list. One admirer said he earns his spot because of his willingness to prove himself every year. “He’s like the Benjamin Button of real estate. He does not age,” the insider said. “He looks like he’s 50 and he’s just as energetic as he was 20 years ago. Any guy who could lose Jose Cruz from his team and not miss a beat deserves to be on the list. That says a lot.” Said another: “He’s still the business generator and in this business that counts for a lot.”
Windels, Marx, Lane & Mittendorf
General partner

What’s the chairman of Amtrak doing on the list? Good question. Easy answer: For all of Coscia’s work with Amtrak and other big-picture items (more in a minute), he’s still regarded as one of the top lawyers in the state and is often brought in on big deals. He plays the political game as well as anyone (“No one is smoother than Tony,” one insider said), and that’s a skill he’ll need when he helps orchestrate one of the biggest real estate plays in state history: A new tunnel to New York City.
Fidelco Group
Chairman

Staying in Newark, we move to Berson. “He’s got his fingers on everything that goes on in Newark,” said one fan. Said another: “He’s still heavily involved there and with charitable causes. He’s the real deal.” Berson is well-known, but his efforts are not always. A longtime philanthropist, Berson donates his time and money to many efforts in the city. He just doesn’t necessarily promote all the good things he’s doing. “He’s steady behind the scenes,” said another insider. “He’s a poor man’s Zygi Wilf, which, for almost everyone, that’s a great thing to be.”
Dranoff Properties; NJPAC
Founder; CEO

The duo makes it with one project. But what a big project it is. One Theater Square not only is a $116 million, 22-story high-rise residential building in the heart of Newark, it is the first of its kind in decades. Placed near NJPAC, Military Park, Penn Station and the Prudential Center, it could be a catalyst for bringing residents back to the inner city of Newark. “It’s an effort to make Newark a live-work-play destination again,” one fan said.
Normandy Real Estate Partners
Co-founder and partner

Often overshadowed by partner Finn Wenworth, Welsh is more than capable of standing on his own. “Day to day, David runs it,” one insider said. “Finn has this amazing presence and that helps Normandy, but they are partners.” It’s simple, said another. “Finn wouldn’t do a deal without David’s consent, and David wouldn’t do a deal without Finn’s consent,” the insider said. “Finn has the name, David doesn’t. While Finn is higher-profile and transcends real estate, people have said that David is the hands-on, day-to-day operator of the real estate.”
Forsgate Industrial Partners
General partner

Klatskin is drawing attention for partnering with Ed Russo on the Kingsland site in the Meadowlands, but he’s far from a newcomer. “Even though he’s in his early 50s, he feels very much like an elder statesman in our field,” one admirer said. “He’s sort of a professor of real estate, and it’s not just because of the bow tie. He had the benefit of the big running start, but Alex has made changes and made it his own. You could argue it’s a year away from being a big move, but once you see steel going up over there, it’s all anybody is going to be talking about for a while.”
Edgewood Properties
CEO and president

Morris is another longtime industry great that many have pushed for before. This year, the head of Edgewood Properties makes the list. “Jack Morris is as prolific as the other guys on your list,” one longtime fan said. “He owns property in a number of asset classes and all over the state.” Said another: “He’s just a brilliant guy with a keen eye for what works and what doesn’t work. He knows how to get things done and he understands the shortest distance between an idea and a completed project is a straight line.”
Matrix Development Group
CEO and president

A longtime leader in the industry, Taylor just keeps rolling along. “For a company that's not a national, publically traded real estate industrial company, Matrix is the standard,” one insider said. Another insider spoke to the quality and vision of the firm. “They just keep doing great products,” the source said. “It's very easy to go invest in Exit 8A. And Matrix has been willing to try out the next exit, if you will, too. Their next big one is in Staten Island, which is in our market. And they are pushing rents there that will impact us here.”
G.S. Wilcox & Co.
CEO and president

Some will point out she’s one of the top females in a male-dominated industry, but most have long taken gender out of the equation with Wilcox. They just see her as one of the best in the business. “She’s one of the Top 2 mortgage brokers in the state, period. That’s all that matters,” one insider said. Another noted the length of her career. “She’s connected to a lot of people on this list,” the insider said. “She definitely belongs.” Said another: “Gretchen is one of the go-to people on the list for so many in the industry.”
Fox Rothschild
Partner

He makes a return to the list this year — an omission that was noted by many. Here’s how one insider summed him up: “When I see Bob’s name on a deal, I get excited, because he’s a dealmaker. I know things are going to get done correctly and quickly.” It doesn’t matter the deal or the asset class. “I think Bob has become the top block-and-tackle lawyer in real estate. He understands and is responsive to owners, developers and occupiers and that’s a recipe for success. He understands what all sides are going through.”
JLL
Director of life science practice group

Loughlin is a big key to JLL’s success because of his hold on the pharma and life science business in the state. “He’s the leading pharma broker in the state,” one insider said. “The pharma health sciences and biotech work that Dan does is off the charts.” The notion was confirmed by many. “In that industry segment, he’s just the go-to guy,” a fan said. “There has been a lot of activity in that sector and Dan’s been a part of all of it. He should always be on the list. If he’s not the No. 1 broker in the state, he’s No. 2 or No. 3.”
HFF
Senior managing director

Mikula makes a return to the list this year; one expert said it’s much-deserved. “He’s a guy who has been undervalued,” the insider said. “He’s the No. 1 mortgage broker in the state of New Jersey. Not even close.” Mikula makes quite the dynamic duo with Jose Cruz, No. 10 on our list. “When Jose does sales, John arranges financing.” Mikula’s expertise is valued throughout the industry, said one insider: “Whenever anybody wants a loan and they want to use a third party, they’ll call Mikula. He’s at the top of his profession. He’s as good as anybody on the debt side of the business.”
JLL
Executive managing director

Kossar has helped JLL to its best year — and with good reason: “They are the leading industrial brokers — and by a wide margin,” one insider said. “Kossar runs the show, but he’d be the first one to tell you that he has a top quality staff, including David Knee and Dan Loughlin.” The firm is poised to continue its growth, another insider said. “It’s a good time to be on the services side of industrial. JLL know their stuff as well as anybody and Rob has them running with precision. They specialize in industrial and have a very dominating practice.”
Liberty Property Trust
CEO

Hankowsky and Liberty Property jumped onto the list in the closing days of last year with the announcement of their $1 billion project on the Camden waterfront. A year later, there’s no reason to take Hankowsky and the Philadelphia-based REIT off the rankings. “It’s just one deal, but it’s so massive and so transformative for Camden that they have to be on the list,” said one insider. But don’t be confused, Liberty Trust is not a one-trick pony. “From a national real estate perspective, Bill has done a great job,” another insider said.
Triple Five

They have been regulars on the list for many years now. That’s what happens when you are in charge of what would be the biggest real estate play in memory. Of course, some don’t see the American Dream project as a traditional real estate play. “Look at it as an entertainment center,” one insider said. For now, much of the entertainment has been watching the project sluggishly move forward. Now, with the financing finally set and any lawsuits seemingly dropped, it’s closer to reality than ever before, with some estimating it will open in September 2018, giving it time to properly prepare for the holidays. “They come down this year, but they’re going to shoot up,” one insider said.
Advance Realty
CEO and president

His transformational project in Bridgewater continues to draw raves and wows. He has now landed all of his approvals. “That deal is amazing,” one insider said. “He’s getting ready to make more announcements and they’re all big names.” A few big names have left his firm, but Cocoziello carries on, something that was not lost on others. “That’s the beauty of Peter; he’s always been able to get it done,” said another fan. “He’s an icon in New Jersey; he’s earned his place on the list.” And when the Bridgewater site is finished, it likely will be much higher.
Sitex
Principals

The firm has seized an opportunity that most others have overlooked — buying and modernizing small and midsized properties in North Jersey. With most of the attention on big box projects, Sitex has captured the demand for “last mile” distribution space around the Meadowlands, but on a smaller scale. The firm is also doing ground-up development in Ridgefield, Woodbridge and elsewhere. “I think they are one of the most overlooked companies in New Jersey,” one insider said. “They are everywhere, doing a lot and doing it well.” Said another: “Sitex is one of those companies that has come onto the scene and found its niche in the marketplace. They deserve to be on the list.”
Prologis
Senior vice president

He was a newcomer on the list last year and Prologis has continued to shine in the past 12 months. “It is still very active,” one insider said. “They are the trendsetters in the industrial sector in New Jersey, which is either one or two or three in the country.” Said another: “If you’re looking backward, Pete had a great, great year. He’s has had a good a year as anybody we’ve talked about. They’ve developed like crazy. They are leasing up their space and Pete is clearly running the show, no question where it’s coming from.” The catch: Crovo has done such good work he’s been tasked to do more outside of the state of New Jersey for the company. “He’s been promoted to a wider geographical role,” said an admirer. “Pete came in and turned everything around. I think he’s still covering New Jersey, but he’ll be covering a broader area moving forward. He’s one to watch and I would not be surprised to see him somewhere in the C-suite at Prologis.”

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