JERSEY CITY, NJ—Debra Tantleff, founding principal of TANTUM Real Estate, is concerned about the economic forces that are combining to raise development costs across New Jersey, in urban infill and suburban redevelopment locations, and she’s trying to help local governments cope with that reality in her own development practice.
In recognition of her commitment to elevating the discourse among policy officials about the importance of public-private partnerships in spurring positive growth, Tantleff recently received the New Jersey Builders Association’s “Distinguished Service for Outstanding Political Action” award.
Tantleff spent more than a dozen years with Roseland Development, mainly in construction, and later moved to the development side of the company. She moved through the ranks to the vice president level, responsible for development and construction in a portfolio of “a few thousand units” in the suburban and Morris County markets, and “a couple thousand units on the Hudson County waterfront,” she says.
Founded in 2014, TANTUM is a Women’s Business Enterprise focused on the creation of boutique multifamily and mixed-use communities in the New Jersey region. TANTUM combines enhanced construction methods with cutting-edge strategies, integrating lifestyle as a fundamental component of development and design that can evolve with the market.
“When I launched TANTUM, my focus was on the dynamics of downtown development and what that means to a primarily suburban state, and how we can urbanize ourselves and utilize transportation and transit-oriented projects to serve as a conduit for greater economic development,” she tells GlobeSt.com in an exclusive interview. “I focused on creating more of a boutique characteristic to development, and how that translates to some of the social trends.”
You can hear our complete interview with Tantleff in the player below.
The real estate market has more end-users today, Tantleff says.
“You have a higher number of investors and developers in this market than I have ever seen. There is a much greater number of potential equity investors and capital players in the market, as well as developers,” she says. “That is translating into a higher cost of development. You’ve got more people, a greater demand, and fundamental economics tells you that leads to greater pricing. And with the higher demand from end users, the cost of living continues to rise, both of which are recipes for dynamics that are not necessarily sustainable as we develop our suburban towns.”
NJBA says the award recognizes Tantleff’s continuing efforts to educate government officials about the scale of the state’s housing shortage, the importance of eliminating obstacles to housing production, and the need for smart policies that support new housing opportunities.
“Debra is a true advocate for the New Jersey real estate industry, taking a vocal position on the critical need for the public and private sectors to work together to develop housing and real estate solutions that enable the state to remain competitive,” says Carol Ann Short, CEO of NJBA. “She embodies the next generation of real estate industry leadership, and her dedication in support of the NJBA’s mission, including her work on the PAC, as well as her exceptional track record and progressive outlook on how to affect positive change, has earned her an enviable reputation amongst her peers.”
Tantleff has spent her entire career in real estate championing responsible development in New Jersey’s transit-oriented and downtown communities. In her role at TANTUM, she is focused on the creation of multifamily and mixed-use developments, including a niche specialization in mixed-income, supportive and workforce housing solutions.
“As an industry, we have a responsibility to educate our policy makers about the hurdles that impede effective redevelopment and downtown revitalization,” says Tantleff. “I’ve seen first-hand the positive results that stem from members of the development community working cooperatively with municipalities and government agencies to deliver viable projects that are also consistent with that town’s vision. I applaud the NJBA for the important work it is doing to create opportunities for its membership to engage in meaningful conversations with the public sector so that we can realize progress and move the state forward.”
Tantleff is a member of New Jersey Mixed-Use Developers, an affiliate of NJBA, as well as New Jersey Future, and serves on the New Jersey Committee of the Regional Plan Association and the board of directors for Downtown New Jersey. She has been recognized numerous times by the NJBA and the National Association of Home Builders, was named Real Estate Forum’s “Top 40 Under 40” in 2012, and was recognized with the Women Builders Council 2015 Outstanding Women Award.
An honors graduate from Rutgers University, Tantleff holds a B.A.S. from the School of Communication and Information Studies, and is a member of the Advisory Board at the Center for Real Estate at Rutgers Business School. She also holds a Masters in Real Estate Finance from the Schack Institute of Real Estate at New York University, where she serves on the Alumni Board.