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Power 50 (No. 5-1)

- Last modified: December 5, 2017 at 11:20 AM
#5. Ron Ladell (#1)
#5. Ron Ladell (#1)
AvalonBay Communities
Senior Vice President

While Ron Ladell holds significant sway under the umbrella of AvalonBay Communities, where he is senior vice president, it is his knowledge and involvement in the real estate community as a whole that keeps him as one of the top contenders on the Real Estate Power 50. In addition to continuously scouting new opportunities throughout the state, Ladell teaches real estate law at Rutgers University, serves on the boards of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Builders Association and the new Jersey Apartments Association. Ladell is not only one of the founders of the Rutgers Center for Real Estate, but he also serves as board member. “He’s one of the smartest guys in the real estate industry across New Jersey,” an insider said. “He has the smarts to back up what he does.” Having finished construction of Avalon Princeton, AvalonBay is currently under contract in Piscataway, Teaneck, Maplewood, Boonton and Edgewater. “He is very sharp, has been very successful and has done a great job for AvalonBay in getting a number of deals done,” a competitor said. “Most people would say they have respect for what he’s accomplished.” The key to his success as both a representative for AvalonBay Communities in New Jersey and an influencer in the real estate community, industry leaders say, is his intelligence. “There is nobody better in terms of getting into towns and getting approvals,” an insider said. “Avalon is also very active in the state in terms of buying and selling.”
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AvalonBay Communities
Senior Vice President

While Ron Ladell holds significant sway under the umbrella of AvalonBay Communities, where he is senior vice president, it is his knowledge and involvement in the real estate community as a whole that keeps him as one of the top contenders on the Real Estate Power 50. In addition to continuously scouting new opportunities throughout the state, Ladell teaches real estate law at Rutgers University, serves on the boards of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Builders Association and the new Jersey Apartments Association. Ladell is not only one of the founders of the Rutgers Center for Real Estate, but he also serves as board member. “He’s one of the smartest guys in the real estate industry across New Jersey,” an insider said. “He has the smarts to back up what he does.” Having finished construction of Avalon Princeton, AvalonBay is currently under contract in Piscataway, Teaneck, Maplewood, Boonton and Edgewater. “He is very sharp, has been very successful and has done a great job for AvalonBay in getting a number of deals done,” a competitor said. “Most people would say they have respect for what he’s accomplished.” The key to his success as both a representative for AvalonBay Communities in New Jersey and an influencer in the real estate community, industry leaders say, is his intelligence. “There is nobody better in terms of getting into towns and getting approvals,” an insider said. “Avalon is also very active in the state in terms of buying and selling.”
New Brunswick Development Corp
President

Chris Paladino, president of New Brunswick Development Corp, has set the standard for what it means to develop a town in New Jersey and, some might even say the country. His ability to orchestrate public and private partnerships has continued to change New Brunswick’s skyline for the last couple of decades. Paladino broke ground on 1.8 million square feet of mixed-use space across from the New Brunswick train station this year, a project called the Hub @ New Brunswick, as well as the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. “He certainly belongs at the top of the list with what he’s done with mixed-use redevelopment and smart growth,” an admirer said. “He’s really building the right product for the market. If he does it, they make a good living and he does good for the community.” For having delivered a consistent number of successful projects in New Brunswick in the past few years, Paladino was also tapped to the Atlantic City Development Corporation where he now serves as president. This year, Paladino was able to secure a public-and-private partnership to bring South Jersey Gas and Stockton University to the heart of Atlantic City, a $225 million project that will bring 1,500 more people to the city year-round. There are not many like him, an expert said. “It’s really only Chris who understands how to connect the dots of government and policy and politics and real estate development. That’s a unique art.” The insider added: “The fact that he’s been tapped to replicate what he’s done in New Brunswick down in Atlantic City and he was already having success, clearly puts him at the top. I don’t think there’s a question about it.”
Prism Capital Partners
Principal

Finding an appropriate spot for Gene Diaz, principal of Prism Capital Partners, in our Real Estate Power 50 was particularly difficult this year. Where last year we recognized the potential for the Hoffmann-LaRoche site that straddles two towns, Clifton and Nutley, the redevelopment has only begun to take shape. But the progress on the site has created consensus on two things: The deal is a game-changer for Nutley and Clifton, and only someone like Diaz could have pulled it off. “It’s probably the biggest bet someone has made in the state for a long time and he’s actually putting in the muscle to make it work,” an insider said. “They’re actually bringing in new industries to the state.” And dealing with the vision of each town was also a challenge, the insider said. “To get two different cultures to come together was a long process and then you had the developer. With two people that talk, you can get an easier resolution than you can with three. It’s a major project and Gene should be commended,” one source said. The redevelopment is not only home to the Seton Hall and Hackensack Meridian joint medical school, and biotech firm Modern Meadow, but both Diaz and insiders have said it is expected to close on another one million square feet in new leases by the end of this year. Prism Capital’s ongoing projects in Woodbridge, West Orange and Bloomfield under the leadership of Diaz have also raised the firm’s profile across the region. The Hoffmann-LaRoche deal was “a transformative project for the state of New Jersey,” a prominent developer said. “He’s attracting anchor businesses that can have a spillover effect. There are very few industries that are jumping to come in to the state and this project has really led the way. We would not do that deal. And he’s pulling it off.”
Mack-Cali
CEO

It’s hard for most industry leaders to recall a time when a chief executive officer changed a company the way Michael DeMarco has changed Mack-Cali. And as the leader of the largest landlord in the state, he also has an effect on the real estate industry itself. In his less than one year as the CEO of the REIT, DeMarco has continued to accelerate the pace of disposition of poor-performing suburban assets in the firm’s portfolio. And there has been continuous rent appreciation of Mack-Cali’s new focus on office and residential in Hoboken and Jersey City, known as the New Jersey Gold Coast. “As long as they can stay $0.60 to $1 from Manhattan, they’re going to keep their buildings leased,” one industry leader said. “As long as it [costs] less to live in Jersey City and Hoboken than it does to live in Manhattan, they are going to keep their buildings leased.” Roseland Properties, Mack-Cali’s residential and multifamily arm, continues to take center stage. And whether it is because of Mack-Cali’s board, the REIT’s performance on Wall Street or DeMarco himself, experts agree that diversifying the firm and focusing on urban and high-performing suburban markets for office and rental is the right move. “Their whole life is involved in getting their stock price up so when they sell out they get a good return for their investments,” an insider said. “[DeMarco] is what I would call the original bull in a china shop,” another insider said. “But he finds resolutions after he blows up the meetings. Mike has come in and he is just someone that can get things done.”
The Hampshire Companies
Chairman

For the third time in seven years, Jon Hanson, chairman of The Hampshire Companies, has topped our NJBIZ Power 50 list. And for good reason. “You can’t go anywhere where [Hampshire] is not looking or participating,” an insider said. “They’re involved in practically everything.” And although The Hampshire Companies, the development firm Hanson founded, is being run by his son Jimmy, Jon’s influence is present and continues to reach far beyond the firm. Under Jon’s leadership, two of the largest developments in the state have shown significant signs of progress and are expected to alter the landscape of their respective regions. In Bergen County, Hanson’s involvement was crucial to resume construction at American Dream. As the chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment, he was tasked with what some called an impossible job: to get the then-Xanadu project back on track. And more than seven years after his appointment, two developers later and $2.6 billion in construction financing secured, Triple Five’s first project on the East Coast has created 600 construction jobs and is set to create up to 3,000 at the peak of construction. Upon completion, American Dream will create 23,000 permanent jobs for the Meadowlands, thanks to some steering by Hanson. “He has such a vast experience and has years of knowledge and practical experience and political acumen that he really is a treasure not only in the real estate industry but in public policy as well,” an insider said. “There just aren’t a lot of those people.” Hanson’s tenure as the chairman of the board of the Atlantic City Development Corporation has also proved fortuitous. His leadership, with some help from proven leaders like Chris Paladino of the New Brunswick Development Corp., advanced reinvestment towards the once left-for-dead city. And it was Hanson, Paladino and Finn Wentworth of Normandy Real Estate that made the Atlantic City Gateway Redevelopment project get to the groundbreaking stage this year, with Stockton University’s new campus and the relocation of South Jersey Gas on the schedule. “For an 80-year-old guy, he is sharp,” an industry leader said. “He’s a tough negotiator, but he does it in a classy way and he’s likeable. He’s been on a million corporate boards. It’s not a surprise that Christie would pick him for AC. That city needs someone to help it be the face of reinvestment there.” While the extent of his influence in the Murphy administration remains to be seen, the governor will not be able to deny that Hanson has been responsible for two major improvements in New Jersey: the creation of jobs and generation of investment in areas that badly needed it.

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