Power 50 (No. 20-11)
President and chief operating officer
In the year of industrial, Hartz Mountain Industries and its president and chief operating officer Gus Milano, deserve recognition as among the region’s top developers for continuing to diversify and change Journal Square in Jersey City and build multifamily in Secaucus; and being at the epicenter of the Meadowlands, the most valuable region for last-mile delivery in the state. “Hartz Mountain has mixed use, they have office, they have retail, they have a hotel, but in their Meadowlands industrial portfolio this year, they really pushed rents,” a prominent industrial broker said. “They decided to jump rents like 8.8 percent per quarter. “ “What ends up happening is that brings up rents in the whole submarket. The result was the tenants were willing to pay. What Gus and Hartz have accomplished over the course of a long period of time and also this year, in the year of the industrial, deserves a top spot on this list,” an insider said.
President and chief operating officer
In the year of industrial, Hartz Mountain Industries and its president and chief operating officer Gus Milano, deserve recognition as among the region’s top developers for continuing to diversify and change Journal Square in Jersey City and build multifamily in Secaucus; and being at the epicenter of the Meadowlands, the most valuable region for last-mile delivery in the state. “Hartz Mountain has mixed use, they have office, they have retail, they have a hotel, but in their Meadowlands industrial portfolio this year, they really pushed rents,” a prominent industrial broker said. “They decided to jump rents like 8.8 percent per quarter. “ “What ends up happening is that brings up rents in the whole submarket. The result was the tenants were willing to pay. What Gus and Hartz have accomplished over the course of a long period of time and also this year, in the year of the industrial, deserves a top spot on this list,” an insider said. SJP Properties
Founder chairman and CEO
Before Kushner Companies and Extell ventured into Fort Lee, there was SJP. Steve Pozycki, the founding chairman and chief executive officer of SJP Properties, was one of the first to see the opportunity in the town and has now seen the Modern, his 900-unit luxury apartment project, come to fruition as land has become scarce. Mike DeMarco, the CEO of Mack-Cali, called Pozycki one of the smartest builders in the country. “He’s one of the smartest people in this business,” another insider said. “He’s certainly sly like a fox. Some people underestimate him, but he has resources that are second to none with respect to financial resources. He’s gravitated to New York in a big way, but he is a big player [in New Jersey].” Pozycki delivered Prudential Tower and sold Two Riverfront Plaza, the headquarters of Panasonic, in Newark last year. He, SJP and Mack-Cali are also co-venture partners at Jersey City’s Harborside 4, a 1.2 million square foot built-to-suit tower in perhaps the most sought-after area in the state. “He is super smart, runs a good organization,” another insider said. “He’s one of this region’s top developers.” Ironstate Development Co.
Dave and Michael Barry, co-owners of Ironstate Development Co., have received high praise from their competitors for their continuous work in Hoboken and Jersey City. For example, this year they delivered the first phase of Jersey City Urby at Mack-Cali's Harborside. And in Hoboken they delivered the W Hotel and Hoboken South Waterfront in recent years. “If you're talking Jersey City, Hoboken, if you're talking residential development, they are one of the dominant waterfront developers,” a competitor said. They also brought the Element Hotel to Harrison. “They were one of the first investors in Harrison dating back to the 2,000s. They deserve a lot of credit in Harrison,” the competitor said. “At that time it was not the easiest to underwrite.” And the Barrys have plans to expand their hold in the areas in which they are active. Most notably, they are set to launch two more towers with Mack-Cali at the Urby site and are involved in several joint ventures in Jersey City. Dave Barry, who is also president of Ironstate, is “one of the smartest guys in real estate,” an insider said. “He is so smart and such a nice guy.” The brothers, the insider said, took their father's company, which was construction business, “to the next level.” Kushner Real Estate Group
Jonathan Kushner, a principal in Kushner Real Estate Group, is a pioneer when it comes to Jersey City. At the time when downtown Jersey City was beginning to take shape, Kushner Real Estate and National Real Estate Advisors made the decision to follow the less common, and riskier, route. “They’re redefining Journal Square,” an admirer said. “Anybody can make money in the waterfront in Jersey City. But they went to a place where, yes, they are at the PATH station, but Journal Square is a challenge and they are redefining it. And I think they will be successful.” In an area of Jersey City that to this day remains economically challenged and at times dangerous, Kushner and his firm delivered the first phase of Journal Squared, a 538-unit luxury apartment complex, at a scale that had not been seen before. While Hartz Mountain Panepinto Properties delivered 3 Journal Square, a 240 unit building, the Kushner project upon completion is expected to deliver 840 units. Kushner Real Estate continues to maintain its presence in the suburbs with office and industrial properties. In the near future, it will deliver additional towers as part of Journal Squared, and luxury apartments in Madison. Chief operating officer, CEO
New Jersey Economic Development Authority
Tim Lizura, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s chief operating officer and Melissa Orsen, the chief executive officer, continue to attract businesses and development throughout the state. But what makes the authority rank higher than last year is that a considerable number of the projects in which it has been involved have been delivered this year. “They have had a lot to do with a lot of the prominent deals that have happened in the last five or six years,” an insider said. And despite the waning presence of the NJEDA in the residential and multifamily development because of the expiration of the tax credit program, attracting firms like Modern Meadow to the Hoffmann- LaRoche site, the support of the Atlantic City Gateway Redevelopment project, the conversion of Trump Taj Mahal into Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City and the revitalization of Camden are clear signs that their presence will continue to be felt throughout New Jersey. The arrival of Hello Fresh in Newark “would not have happened without them,” an insider said. “And there are plenty of those stories. Subaru, Campbell’s Soup, those deals don’t happen in Camden without [Lizura and Orsen].” President
Don Ghermezian, president of Triple Five, continues to rise in the NJBIZ rankings simply because the American Dream project at the Meadowlands is doing two things no one can deny: moving forward and creating jobs. Merely having the largest real estate play in the state begin moving the cranes created 600 jobs at the site. And at the height of construction in one year, it is projected to create 3,000 jobs. “They are a proven entity,” an insider active in the Meadowlands said. “This is not the first time they’ve done this. [This is] the first time in New Jersey, but they have a proven record. That’s more than other firms can say. These folks have a vision for what [American Dream] could be and a large vision for their tenants.” When Ghermezian finally delivers the project, whenever that may be, that is the year most experts agree Triple Five will undoubtedly belong at top the list. Rockefeller Group
Senior vice president
As both the developer that has made the former ExxonMobil site the thriving and ongoing development that The Green at Florham Park has become, and as the outgoing president of the National Association of Office and Industrial Properties, Clark Machemer, 46, senior vice president of Rockefeller Group, continues to rise on this list. “He will be a leader in his field,” an admirer said, noting that Machemer secured as tenants the AVE project, which is short term corporate housing, Summit Medical and The Green at Florham Park. “He has potential on age, and that it’s Rockefeller, and he is a leader of NAIOP. He is clearly a dean of real estate in the making. He’s straddling mixed-use and now industrial,” the insider said. And with Rockefeller’s recent purchase of the 228-acre site in Piscataway, where the developer expects to build the 2.2 million-square-foot Rockefeller Logistics Center, Machemer’s role as an influencer in the industry is only expected to grow. HFF
Senior managing director
When it comes to assessing Jose Cruz’s influence in the market as a broker alone, one developer put it this way: “When I look at the other names on this list, it’s hard to compare. …[Jose] has done a lot of deals. He knows the pulse of the market and he knows all the players.” “Two seconds into the conversation, you’re out there doing business with him,” the insider said. “He doesn’t play games. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear. He tells you what he thinks is right.” Cruz, senior managing director of HFF, maintains his reputation among the top brokers in the state for his knowledge of the market and for his proven record of success. “There are very few brokers that would belong this high on any list,” a fellow broker said. “He’s one of them.” Among his biggest deals this year are the 847,805 square foot Mack-Cali office portfolio in Bergen County sold to Onyx Equities and Garrison Investment Group. Advance Realty
CEO and president
Few developers can claim they have been as active across as many markets as Peter Cocoziello, chief executive office and president of Advance Realty. As Advance Realty’s ongoing work at the Bridgewater Center of Excellence continues to pick up steam, the developer delivered Steel Works in Harrison and has been selected in a joint venture with DeBartolo to redevelop the Shops at Ledgewood Commons in Roxbury. “For his generation, he is having his best days now,” an insider said. “Whereas a lot of his peers are starting to sunset, he is more active than ever and that’s exceptional. And he’s got his sons in the business.” Cocoziello and Advance’s locations at One Gateway Center in Newark and at the fast-growing Riverbend district in Harrison have laid the groundwork for gaining additional footing in sought-after markets across asset classes. Woodmont Properties
Eric Witmondt, chief executive officer of Woodmont Properties, is perhaps the first member of our list on whom insiders can agree that he is just as smart as he is kind. “He's a hard worker, he's aggressive and he's hungry,” an insider said. “He's always thinking about the next deal. He's the kind of guy that you get a call from him on Saturday morning about something that popped into his head.” Witmondt built on the success of his father Donald and has taken Woodmont Properties to the next level. Where his dad began as a for-sale residential builder, Eric has left his mark throughout the state by developing multifamily properties, and has even taken the company to Eastern Pennsylvania. “Dealing with guys that handle themselves like gentlemen in this industry means a lot,” an insider said. “He's one of them.” His work at the recently-opened Mount Arlington complex would be enough for most residential developers, but Woodmont has also opened the first phase of another complex in Metuchen, and began work on other residential projects in both South Amboy and Bayonne.