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With financing for new commercial construction nearly nonexistent, developers find themselves with nothing much to do. In some cases, that has had disastrous consequences: Just recently, three of the six operating units of development giant Opus Corp. filed for bankruptcy.

A recent Quick Poll on GlobeSt.com asked: “What Are Developers Doing With Their Down Time?” Of the three choices, “Managing the Assets They Have” garnered the overwhelming majority of votes, at 73%. Waiting for the Upturn–23%–and Doing Build-To-Suits–5%–followed.Stephen A. Santola, executive vice president and general counsel of Parsippany, NJ-based developer Woodmont Properties, agrees that now is the time for developers to focus on what they have, and possibly pick up some stalled projects.

“Woodmont is a full-service real estate company, so we own, manage, operate, develop and build. We are definitely managing our existing assets, working with our existing tenants, and leasing any vacant space that we have. Internally, we are working on our own projects that are on hold to see if they can be repositioned in order to be more finance-able and more profitable in this market. Taking care of your own house is certainly a top priority.

“Also on the development side–we are seeing from various sources, whether it’s lenders or developers who are short on funds–a number of projects that are stuck in the mud for various reasons. Sometimes it’s a lender, sometimes it’s another developer or sometimes it’s a landowner who had a contract purchaser walk away.

“The projects no longer meet the market, are not finance-able or there is additional equity required. We are looking at many–I can’t put a number on it–jobs that are basically stuck and trying to help either acquire them or help the existing owners reposition them to where they might meet today’s market.

“We have the Epstein’s redevelopment under construction in Morristown, NJ. We have just completed Phase I of SciPark, which is our biopharma lab and office space in East Windsor, NJ. We have a 64,000-square-foot building we are completing and tenanting. We are under construction on a project in Montvale, NJ that is a 28-unit villa concept, very high-end, 3,035-square-foot townhomes. It’s in the sales phase and we are seeing some definite activity and a lot of interest.

“But everybody’s number one job is to take care of their own house–internal projects and properties they own or have been working on. And secondarily, a lot of people are looking at other jobs that are stuck and seeing if there is a way to make sense out of it. The top priority is to take care of what you have internally, preserving existing permits, repositioning projects and to the extent you own and manage, making sure that your existing assets continue to be well maintained and well-tenanted and working with your existing tenants.”

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