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Power 50 (No. 50-31)

- Last modified: December 5, 2017 at 11:20 AM
#50. Paul Profeta (#68)
#50. Paul Profeta (#68)
Paul V Profeta & Associates
Owner and president

Paul Profeta, the owner and president of the successful real estate investment firm, Paul V. Profeta & Associates, has substantially broadened his impact on the state's real estate community through the Center for Real Estate at Rutgers University, which he endowed, and through the monthly magazine, Real Estate New Jersey. Insiders say that creating public awareness of the dynamics of the real estate community can only benefit the business of real estate in New Jersey. Profeta's ability to raise the profile of New Jersey industry leaders, educate students and the public about the policies and practices of the profession, and highlight major deals, justifies his place on the list of most influential real estate professionals in New Jersey.
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Paul V Profeta & Associates
Owner and president

Paul Profeta, the owner and president of the successful real estate investment firm, Paul V. Profeta & Associates, has substantially broadened his impact on the state's real estate community through the Center for Real Estate at Rutgers University, which he endowed, and through the monthly magazine, Real Estate New Jersey. Insiders say that creating public awareness of the dynamics of the real estate community can only benefit the business of real estate in New Jersey. Profeta's ability to raise the profile of New Jersey industry leaders, educate students and the public about the policies and practices of the profession, and highlight major deals, justifies his place on the list of most influential real estate professionals in New Jersey.
Greater Trenton
CEO

It may be too soon to assess the impact of Greater Trenton, a relatively new nonprofit with the goal of arranging public private partnerships for development in Trenton. But insiders suggested putting George Sowa, the chief executive officer of Greater Trenton, on this year's list because he has been enormously successful in raising the group's profile. Greater Trenton has been the center of a substantial amount of broadcast, print and social media news coverage about development opportunities in Trenton. The publicity is a direct result of Sowa's leadership and his team's goal to get the name out into the public. “[Greater Trenton] is pretty unique,” an insider said. “He has a background at Brandywide Realty Trust and he's a talented guy.”
Elberon Development
President and CEO

Being president and chief executive officer of Elberon Development, one of the largest owners of industrial space in Elizabeth, is a good position to be in in the year of industrial, but Dave Gibbons has even more going for him. This last year, Gibbons served as the president of the New Jersey chapter of NAIOP. His sphere of influence has expanded. In perhaps what has been the best year for industrial, multifamily and some office product in a while, Gibbons has been at the center of the largest real estate organization in the state. In July of this year, Elberon delivered 90,000 square feet of industrial at 925 Julia Street in Elizabeth.
KABR Group
Executive chairman

Despite having to deal with the fallout from the failure to complete financing for One Journal Square, in which KABR Group partnered with Kushner Companies, KABR has made a comfortable home in New Jersey and Jacksonville, Florida, and continues to grow its presence in both locations. Pasternak founded KABR after running what at one point was the largest brokerage firm on Wall Street, Knight Trading Group, and has now made Jersey City one of his centers of activity. In his short tenure at KABR, Pasternak has been able to joint-venture with Kushner Companies at several sites including Trump Bay Street and others in Journal Square. And with a hold on several sought after sites in downtown Jersey City, his presence and influence is set to grow.
Rutgers University
Paul V. Profeta chair of real estate

In an industry filled to the brim with early Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, and in a state known for its inability to retain millennials, Morris Davis, academic director of the Center for Real Estate at Rutgers University, has created career pathways that might help bridge the generation gap, insiders says. Under his leadership, and with the expertise of executive director Kevin Riordan, a former CEO of Crexus Investment Corp., the center has added classes taught by some of the top players in New Jersey’s real estate community, introducing young aspiring professionals to industry leaders. Many students have been tapped for internships and jobs. Davis, previously the chair of the department of real estate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, brought to Rutgers the experience required to get both the university and the real estate professionals to row in the same direction, insiders said.
Biggins, Lacy, Shapiro & Co.
Executive managing director

Affectionately named the “king of economic incentives,” Biggins and his firm, an economic incentives advisory firm, have been crucial to attracting companies to the state. “He does great projects,” a competitor said. “They are some of the best in the state.” Biggins, Lacy, Shapiro & Co. continues to remain active in the world of state incentives, and Biggins, a lawyer, is considered by insiders to be on par with the most prominent lawyers on this list. Biggins and Rob Kossar of JLL received the 2017 NAIOP Industry Service Award. “Very few people in real estate in New Jersey do not know who he is,” another insider said. “He’s the guru with the state’s incentive programs.”
Investors Bank
Senior vice president

For the last four years, Tim Touhey, senior vice president of Investors Bank, has served as the face of Investors commercial real estate financing division. Touhey, insiders say, is one of the best bankers in New Jersey. “He is one of the most knowledgeable bankers in the state,” an insider said. “Everyone knows him because he is the former head of the [New Jersey Builders Association.] Because of his business background, every politician knows him.” Most recently, he organized a $70 million financing arrangement with Meridian Capital Group and OceanFirst to rehabilitate Somerset’s Bell Works.
Canoe Brook Management
Managing member

Though Carl Goldberg, managing member of Canoe Brook Management, left Mack-Cali, he remains and will continue to remain influential in real estate. “[Canoe Brook is] doing their own deals and they still consult for Mack-Cali,” an insider said. Goldberg is also a co-chair of the Center for Real Estate at Rutgers University. And both he and Jimmy Hanson have dramatically expanded the presence and heightened reputation of the center to the point that it has become a high profile real estate educational institution, several insiders said.
New Jersey Builders Association, New Jersey Apartment Association
CEO, Executive director

Both Carol Ann Short, chief executive officer of the New Jersey Builders Association, and David Brogan, executive director of New Jersey Apartment Association, are regarded as great leaders of their respective organizations by insiders and outsiders. Short's extensive experience in the Builders Association has helped it to grow and raise its profile in Trenton. Brogan has deepened the relationships between the real estate industry and lawmakers in the state. Together, along with Michael McGuiness of NAIOP, the organizations are advancing the lobbying efforts of developers. “[Short and Brogan] have huge influence, political relationships, they're both incredibly hard working,” an insider said. “Brogan has raised the profile of the Apartments Association significantly.”
NAIOP New Jersey
CEO

According to several experts, it is Michael McGuinness’ leadership as chief executive officer of NAIOP that has allowed the association to maintain its wide-ranging influence in the state. “If you think about the personalities of the real estate community in New Jersey, and you think about someone who has to get them to a common goal and do so in a straightforward way,” an insider said, “he does it.” “NAIOP on its own has more sway than any one real estate organization,” another insider said. “And it’s his leadership plus some of the members. Michael is a very solid leader for that organization.”
CBRE
Executive vice president

Jeff Babikian, executive vice president of CBRE, is known as the future of CBRE to some insiders in New Jersey real estate. Babikian remains active in office leasing and now that CBRE’s David Opper has moved to New York, Babikian’s role as the ambassador for the brokerage firm will become more and more evident. In recent years, Babikian was recognized by NAIOP for his representation of GAF on the purchase of 1 Campus Drive, a 377,000 square foot office building in Parsippany. “He’s a top-notch broker in the state,” a competitor said. “He is CBRE’s representative in New Jersey.”
Newmark Knight Frank
Vice chairman and COO

By sheer volume of deals alone, David Simson, vice chairman and chief operating officer at Newmark Knight Frank, remains a top broker in New Jersey real estate. But where he has been able to separate himself, ever since he left CBRE, is in cultivating a top brokerage in office space while also expanding Newmark’s talent pool. “In any given year, at least in the office side of things, David is the most prominent broker,” an insider said. Simson recently oversaw an 89,000 square-foot lease at Two Tower Center in East Brunswick for PNC Bank “Newmark has been a force in cultivating new talent,” a developer said. “[Simson] came out of CBRE and he’s been able to make Newmark a big competitor to Cushman & Wakefield and CBRE.”
Conner Strong & Buckelew
Executive chairman

There is a saying among North and Central Jersey developers about development in South Jersey: nothing happens in South Jersey without George Norcross. Norcross is held in high regard for his ongoing work in Camden and he remains one of the most influential people in the region. Norcross, executive chairman of Conner Strong & Buckelew, a national insurance brokerage and employee benefits consulting firm, is chairman of the board of trustees for Cooper Health Systems and Cooper University Hospital in Camden, and active in Democratic Party politics. “You can put him anywhere on this list and it would be right,” an insider said. If George Norcross decided not to get involved, the insider said, “The progress in Camden would come to a screeching halt.”
Matrix Development Group
CEO and president

Despite Matrix Development Group’s focus on developing in Staten Island this year, Joe Taylor’s influence is still felt in the region. Whether it is because of Matrix sizeable portfolio, Taylor’s influence in NAIOP, his prominence or a combination of all of the above, the chief executive officer and president of Matrix continues to be a major player in New Jersey real estate. “If you’re north of the Raritan, other than what is going on in Atlantic City, you’re making more of a contribution,” an insider said. “Joe happens to be down in 7A [Turnpike exit near Trenton] and has built the best industrial park [in that submarket] in the state. The nice part is they have land.”
Edison Properties
Executive vice president of development

Edison Properties suffered a substantial blow this year with the passing of Jerry Gottesman just a few weeks before the company’s dreams of transforming downtown Newark began to materialize. But the influence of Michael Sommer, Edison’s executive vice president, is bound to increase in Newark and beyond. Gottesman’s desire to see Mulberry Commons come to fruition alongside Ironside Newark is no longer a wish. The project is becoming a reality day by day. And being at the center of the rebirth of Newark means Sommer’s leadership will be crucial not just to Edison Properties, but the city now more than ever. “They’re no longer a tomorrow story,” an insider said.
Prologis
Senior vice president, vice president

Although Prologis has been less active in New Jersey than in recent years, Pete Crovo, senior vice president and Mark Shearer, vice president, maintain a significant portfolio in the area. When a company like Amazon is looking for industrial space, Prologis will be at the top of their list for leasing distribution and logistics center space. Shearer’s addition to the team comes as a result of Crovo’s promotion to value-add officer for the region. “Pete is younger and hard-charging,” an insider said. “Mark Shearer is very smart, has been with the company for a long time and now he’s playing on a bigger stage in the state.”
The Kushner Companies
President

It is fair to say that the Kushner Companies have hit some roadblocks this past year but under the leadership of Laurent Morali, Kushner remains strong throughout the state. Under Morali’s leadership, the company is staying active in Jersey City, on projects like One Journal Square and 65 Bay Street, which opened this year. It also is developing Pier Village in Long Branch and increasing its already sizeable suburban multifamily portfolio throughout the state. “For as many people that don’t want to deal with [the company] because of the negative publicity, there are people who are clamoring to do business with [the company] because [Jared Kushner] sees the president every day,” an insider said.
Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf
General partner

Tony Coscia’s influence as the chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) and his sway with political parties is expected to remain undiminished regardless of who is in power in Trenton. Coscia’s standing as a legal advisor to many government officials, including in areas of real estate and infrastructure, ensure that the partners at Windels Marx will maintain their seat at the table on real estate in the state. “He’s the smartest guy in New Jersey,” an admirer said. “He is a guy that is involved in more things than anyone. Tony Coscia is the guy everyone goes to but no one talks about. The real players in New Jersey all go to Tony for advice. If you ever have a real problem you talk to Tony.”
Fair Share Housing Center
Executive director

Kevin Walsh, executive director of Fair Share Housing Center, rises on our list this year due to the incredible power affordable housing settlements have displayed and will continue to display in the following years. Walsh, an attorney, negotiates for Fair Share Housing with every town over its obligations under the state’s fair housing laws. “He is dictating every settlement in the state,” a residential developer said. “That is power. He could make the top 10. No settlement is being done without Fair Share signing off on it. He’s involved in every deal….That is very powerful.” Walsh was also named the Lawyer of the Year by the New Jersey Law Journal in recent years.
G.S. Wilcox & Co.
CEO and president

Gretchen Wilcox, president and chief executive officer of G.S. Wilcox & Co, has created one of the most prominent mortgage brokerage businesses in the state. Her reputation speaks for itself. For many years, G.S. Wilcox has been known in the industry for the consistency of its volume, and Wilcox is praised for her ability to make the top-notch organization continue to grow. Wilcox, for example, financed Fox Rothschild’s Morristown headquarters and also financed roughly 4 million square feet of warehouse space this year alone. “Gretchen is terrific,” an insider said. “They have an excellent organization. They are the top line when it comes to that side of the industry.” Wilcox’s has been active in expanding her mortgage banking team as well, bringing in her son and other younger talent. “Next time I do that kind of lending I will probably talk to her,” one of her admirers said.

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