NEWARK-The planned transformation of the 472-acre Bell Labs site in Holmdel into a mixed-use Town Center is still in the cocoon after four years. The first two residential buildings recently opened at Westmont Station, a 70-acre mixed-use village project in Wood-Ridge, after six years of effort to launch. At the Glassworks project in Aberdeen, says Somerset Development’s Ralph Zucker, “We’ve been on the site for seven years. We’re now a few weeks away from beginning the site-plan submission process.”
The long stall of development in the Garden State, and the opportunities that are at last arising, will be key topics of conversation at the upcoming RealShare NJ conference on June 5. Zucker, one of the featured speakers at the highly anticipated event, says his company has been wrestling some big-vision projects out of the ground, and the process has taken enormous amounts of time in the high-barrier-to-entry state.
“With redevelopment in New Jersey, it can take a long, long time to get to that point,” he says plainly. “Your vision has to be durable, and flexible.” At the breakfast panel at the Newark Cub, though, Zucker says he plans to say that right now is looking like a decent time to jump in.
“Towns need development,” he says. “After a long period of resistance, at this post-recession moment towns are starting to seize on what is in it for them. We are finding a more open environment both politically and community-wise. Now is a better time to get plans in front of communities.”
Somerset is currently battling a war of public opinion in Bloomfield – as it has done in Holmdel – to sway local authorities to authorize the start of work on a small, 13-acre residential development that has been debated for 25 years. “We will hang in there, and we are not giving up hope,” he says. “It is the strength of our vision that carries us forward.”
Other prominent panelists include Todd Anderson, principal of The Hampshire Companies; SJP Properties’ leasing and marketing executive Jeff Schotz; The Rockefeller Group’s vice-president of development Clark Machemer and Roseland Properties’ Debra Tantleff, who holds that same title with her company. Each of their companies is currently at work on major redevelopment projects, including SJP’s planned construction of two residential towers for The Center at Fort Lee on land where various redevelopment plans have failed over the course of many decades.
To register for the event, click here.