Everything old is new again, at least according to some of the state's top real estate movers and shakers.
Last week’s annual symposium of the New Jersey Chapter of Commercial Real Estate Development Association drew policy makers and industry leaders from across the state for discussions on the latest trends in New Jersey’s ever-changing real estate market.
NAIOP CEO Michael McGuinness noted the return of Main Street and suburbia.
“The trend used to be that there was a flight to cities among millennials,” McGuinness told NJBIZ. “Now there is an acceleration in suburbanization. As millennials enter their thirties, they are returning to the suburbs. They are being priced out of the Hobokens and Jersey City’s of the world.”
Folks are moving from New York and the New Jersey’s Gold Coast region and moving west to places like Montclair, Newark and the Oranges.
“In order to make our suburbs more attractive and user-friendly, we need to integrate residential with retail,” McGuinness said. “I think walkability is a key component in the wheelhouse of these developers. It’s all about blended commercial models and experiential retail. If you want to attract the younger generation and, actually, the older generation like the empty-nesters, it’s all about walkability.”
Keynote speaker Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who is also the commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, credited towns who have been proactive in their own growth. Oliver also cited mixed-use residential development and walkability as components of successful municipalities.
“The state also has to take a look at how it can improve these communities,” she said.
McGuinness cited trends across thriving downtowns.
“Even though internet sales are growing, if you want to have a successful downtown, you have to offer things that people can’t get online, like restaurants, bars, movies and experiences,” he said. “You just have to be creative. We need to funnel resources to towns that are making the effort. The state should incentivize that type of behavior.”
New Jersey’s Gold Coast region is a driver of much of the real estate investment throughout the state. Rockefeller Group Developer Corp. Vice President & NJ/PA Regional Development Officer Clark Machemer said more than half of building permits in the state in Hudson County.
“Hudson drives it and the other half is from the rest of New Jersey,” Machemer said. “The state continues to suffer. We’ve got to find ways to get people into New Jersey and it’s also up to the state to find those communities that want growth and give them what they need. We need to reward these communities.”