The day began with the panel addressing retail and entertainmentopportunities in Newark. Moderator Richard Johnson, SVP and partnerwith Matrix Development Group, led the discussion with Ron Beit,founding partner and CEO of RBH Group; Cubie Dawson, SVP of JonesLang LaSalle; Leon Kafele, president of ICP Group; Joe Ritchie, CEOof Brick City Development Corporation; and Michael Saltzman,principal with Newwork LLC.

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By and large, the panelists had high hopes for the City ofNewark, which has been experiencing a resurgence lately with theopening of the Prudential Center and NJ PAC, venues that bringthousands of people into Newark's Downtown to attend events.Developing Downtown retail, according to Ritchie, will partlydepend on encouraging those event attendees to stay in the citylonger, instead of simply arriving to attend the event and thenleaving immediately after.

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Although Newark has good infrastructure features to bring peopleinto the city--many important roads and a major rail station, thepanelists agreed that housing Downtown was lacking, a need thatmust be addressed. "We need more residential Downtown so we cansell a 24-hour market," Ritchie said. Saltzman suggested marketingthe retail to the surrounding suburban areas until residential realestate in Downtown Newark becomes more widely available.

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Besides the lack of residents, Newark faces the same challengeshared by many up-and-coming cities: convincing the retailers tolocate in the downtown areas. Dawson, whose company redeveloped thearea around Washington, DC's Union Station, spoke of helping majorretailers adapt to urban spaces, which may be smaller or have lessparking than suburban locations. JLL's efforts in DC were verysuccessful.

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"The proof of the pudding is in DC," he reported. "We had 10million sf of office development around Union Station in the last20 years" since it was redeveloped.

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A possible point in Newark's favor is the renewed interest manypeople have begun to show in urban versus suburban areas as spacesto live, work and recreate.

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"The retail market is recognizing urban opportunities," Ritchiesaid. "The mood of the country is going from suburban to urban. Wemust continue to reach out to retailers, drive home the populationdensity argument, and encourage them to look outside their usualexpectations and requirements."

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Although Newark may be poised for growth, the outlook for Northand Central New Jersey isn't quite as hopeful, as presentations byPhil Lipper, senior managing director of Studley and Rae Rosen,senior economist and assistant VP of the federal reserve bank ofNew York showed.

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"We've really had a reversal of fortune over the last couple ofyears," Lipper reported, sharing a chart indicating that thestate's available office space passed the national average in 2005.Rents have remained relatively flat since 2001 and dropped belowthe national average in 2006, while rents in the powerful New Yorkmarket have risen 72% since 2001. Rosen's presentation wassimilarly short on good news, showing slow growth and the highlikelihood that unemployment in New Jersey would rise in the comingmonths due to the unstable economy.

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The one bright spot for Northern New Jersey, according toLipper, is rents for industrial space. Although Central New Jerseytrails the national average, Northern New Jersey, helped, no doubt,by the port and proximity to New York, is higher than the averagethroughout the US.

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