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Power 75 (No. 75-51)

- Last modified: November 21, 2016 at 11:54 AM
#75. Michelle Pais (NR)
#75. Michelle Pais (NR)
Signature Realty
CEO

A residential realtor on the list? Michelle Pais is worthy, having sold more than 1,200 homes in a career that has paralleled a huge downturn in single-family residential. At 36, Pais is just starting her career and already is part of a development project for multifamily. Another option could be a TV show.
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Signature Realty
CEO

A residential realtor on the list? Michelle Pais is worthy, having sold more than 1,200 homes in a career that has paralleled a huge downturn in single-family residential. At 36, Pais is just starting her career and already is part of a development project for multifamily. Another option could be a TV show.
There are so many people who go up and down as COAH continues to wind its way through the courts. Is this the year final rulings are finally made? If so, the people in this group will rise much higher. Kevin Walsh, the executive director of the Fair Share Housing Center, and Superior Court Judge Douglas Wolfson are at the top of the list. "Every job is waiting for his opinion. Wolfson is setting the judicial decision; Walsh is making the deals with towns. If you make a deal with Kevin Walsh, properties get done. If Kevin says, 'No deal,' you're in court -- how's that for power? I have towns coming to me that say we'll make a deal with you, but you have to get Kevin to sign off on it." Betsy McKenzie also has a role. "She is the special master in numerous proceedings on affordable housing. She is the go-to master of every job in the state on affordable housing. What she says to a judge is incredibly influential." Gin Dawson, vice president of Michaels Development, and Christiana Foglio, president of Community Investment Strategies, are go-to leaders for getting projects done. Minno & Wasko Architects
Principal

You can’t build a building without an architect. And for many projects in New Jersey, that means going to Minno, who returns to the list. Here’s how one insider describes him: “On 50 percent of the deals that I see, when I asked if they have a concept plan, they say, ‘Dave Minno did one.’ If you have to have one New Jersey architect, he’s it.”
Smith Pizzutillo LLC
Partner

He’s one of those people who is connected to real estate. He’s a top lobbyist for NAIOP and one of the lead guys pushing liquor license reform on behalf of the real estate industry, along with George Jacobs. Should real reform ever come, it would be a game-changer for the industry.
Tower Investments; Straub Capital Group
CEO; Owner

Their success in Atlantic City likely depends on the efforts of others, but let’s give them credit for being in the game. Blatstein purchased Showboat. “I think he’s influential in a city that’s under siege,” one insider said. “If he can find some ability to get a return on Showboat and the other stuff, it will be a great story.” Straub purchased Revel and renamed it TEN. “Just imagine if he’s successful,” another insider said. “He only paid $88 million for it. Now there’s some upside.” Another longtime industry insider gives both credit for trying to get something done, even if they themselves would have passed. “It’s a gamble, no doubt about it, and one I wouldn’t have been willing to make. But like all gambling, the payoff could be quite large.”
Clarion Partners
CEO

It is not New Jersey-based, but it is doing big work in the state. “They have two of the Top 10 biggest industrial projects under construction in the state, including one for just under a million square feet in Cranbury and one for 187,600 square feet in Dayton,” one insider said.
Canoe Brook Management LLC
Managing member

If you think Goldberg’s moved along, think again. “He’s doing his consulting thing, but I think he still does a lot of heavy lifting for Mack-Cali and Roseland, especially as they look to turn more of their office buildings into residential,” one insider said. “I think he had a big role in settling that big dispute over the old Pearson site in Upper Saddle River.”
Paul V. Profeta & Associates
Owner and president

This longtime player has taken a higher profile in recent years by trying to help minority business owners in Newark. And he was certainly behind the Rutgers real estate school. “He was very under the radar for years and years with suburban office buildings in Essex County,” one insider said. “He’s been successful and tried and true.”
Greater Trenton
CEO

This is certainly a case of great upside. When a board co-chaired by Carin Franzini and Bernie Flynn taps you as CEO, you know it’s a big deal. Sowa’s job is to help the nonprofit use private funding and its network of relationships to revitalize the state’s capital city. “Imagine if he can help bring the city back to life,” one insider said. “There is so much potential there.”
Bijou Properties
Managing partner

He’s been frequently pitched for the list, and finally breaks through this year. “He has been the most prolific Hoboken developer in the past five years,” one admirer said. “It’s not just one project — it’s a bunch of projects. And he’s done it magnificently.” Another fan is waiting for his next move in the industry. “I don’t know what he does next, but he just keeps churning them out.”
Hugo Neu
Chairman and CEO

Neu is overseeing the redevelopment of Kearny Point Industrial Park, which has 2.4 million square feet of warehouse and distribution space. One insider said she is one to watch in the future. “You’re going to be hearing about Kearny Point in the coming years,” the insider said. “They’ve got a lot of companies coming into New Jersey.”
Elberon Development Group
CEO and president

We get it, most of what Elberon does is in Elizabeth. Of course, the company dominates Elizabeth with nearly 2 million square feet of space. “Dave Gibbons is Mr. Elizabeth,” one insider said. “But with the ever changing nature of the Port, that’s a good place to be.” He also is the president-elect and the vice president of public affairs for NAIOP New Jersey.
New Jersey Apartment Association
Executive director

Brogan’s fans are far and wide. “Multifamily and mixed use are still driving so much of the market; he’s done a great job of staying out in front,” one insider said. “He knows multifamily; that’s clear.” Another noted his demeanor. “He’s not only smart but he’s easy to work with. That’s why he’s been able to be so effective right from the beginning.”
New Jersey Builders Association
CEO

Support for Short comes from all over. “She represents a lot of different interests and does it well; that’s not an easy job,” one insider said. Said another: “In this market with these personalities, this is truly a thankless job and she does it very well. The industry is changing and she’s helping the builders adapt.”
NAIOP New Jersey
CEO

The case for McGuinness is the same every year: Tough job and he does it well. “He’s always influencing New Jersey real estate with his public service,” one insider said. “He always working behind the scenes.” Said another: “If you look around the country and look at NAIOP as an organization, New Jersey has the strongest chapter by far. That’s a testament to Mike.”
JLL
Senior vice president

If you’re looking for the next-generation leader for retail brokers, look no further. Villa, who recently joined JLL, is not just going to be a force, she is a force already, one insider said. “She’s killing it,” one admirer said. “JLL went after her and she was a great pickup. In the coming years, she’s going to dominate retail.”
Goldstein Group
President

The longtime retail broker is a well-known commodity in the state. “He’s definitely an authority on the asset class,” one insider said. “He speaks on a lot of panels — and you want him on panels. He has seen it all.” Said another insider: “When you’re looking at retail, and you should because it’s a big part of the state, you need to have Chuck.”
Colliers International
Executive managing director

Another next-generation leader, Simon heads up Colliers in New Jersey. “He’s a smart guy, doing smart things,” said one insider. He’s still young (early 50s), but he’s been in the business more than 25 years, said another. Experience, they said, is not a problem. “He’s one to watch.” Another insider said Colliers is making a move. “It is a becoming a big player in the state.”
Onyx Equities
Co-founders

They had the Daiichi Sankyo deal at the Avaya building rehab and are buying other office buildings with a similar strategy. One insider feels they not only belong on the list, they need to be watched for a big jump. “They are the No. 1 distressed debt workout guys. With the impending bubble to burst, they are to be kept an eye on.”
More lawyers, because we felt that segment of the industry has been underrepresented in years past. Edward McManimon, Glenn Scotland and Joseph Baumann like to say they bring private-sector expertise to government and public-sector insight to the business world. Here’s what an insider said: “That firm is the preeminent firm in state for RABs (redevelopment area bonds) and PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) on the municipal side. These guys are wicked smart and have great political astuteness.” Gibbons P.C.
Partner

Russ Bershad is a newcomer to the list. But, according to one fan, he’s been in the mix for quite some time. “He was involved in the Roche deal, he represents David Barry in Jersey City. He’s doing a lot of good things there.” Said another: “You know every detail is going to be pored over when you hire Russ.” Said another: “If you’re going to add more lawyers to the list, and that’s a good idea, Russ is one of the people you need to have.”
Law Offices of W. Lane Miller
Owner

He goes it alone, but he gets it done. At least that’s how insiders described Miller. “He might be the busiest guy in New Jersey,” one insider said. “He does all the (Bridge Development) stuff and a whole lot more.” The reason, the insider said, is simple: “He’s a dealmaker and well respected across all asset types.”
New Jersey Economic Development Authority; Choose New Jersey
Chief operating officer; CEO; CEO

They are the leading organizations bringing business to the state. And though the incentives may not be what they once were, they still mean a lot. “Tim hasn’t changed his approach; he’s user friendly,” said one fan. “There’s a different climate, but we’re lucky to have the programs we have in this state.” Michele Brown headed the EDA before moving to Choose. Some feel as if she never left. “You would think she’s in the first year of the Christie term. She’s just as active.”
Biggins, Lacy, Shapiro & Co.
Executive managing director

Jay Biggins returns to the list, but he never stopped doing what he does best: Advising companies going in and out of the state of New Jersey. “I really think Jay Biggins is the best at what he does,” said one longtime fan. Another said his deep-seated knowledge sets him apart. “When I have something that’s hairy, I always recommend to clients that they hire Jay.”
Investors Bank
Senior vice president

The selection of Touhey is easy. Listen to this insider, who summed up the view of many: “He’s the best-known banker in the state in the real estate spectrum. He has Fannie experience and he understands economics better than anyone in the industry. And he speaks at more conferences. If you’ve got to pick a banker, and things are getting tighter, he’s your guy.” Enough said.

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