New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine is copying New York City in his latest bid to revitalize the Garden State’s sagging economy.
On Monday, Corzine announced the creation of a New Jersey real estate advisory board that a spokesperson for Corzine’s economic growth office said was modeled after the Real Estate Board of New York. The idea behind the New Jersey board, which will serve as an informal advisor to the governor, is to bring industry executives together with government officials, to brainstorm policies and stimulate real estate development, said the spokesperson, Jennifer Monoghan, from the state’s Office of Economic Growth.
In response, Steven Spinola, president of REBNY, wrote in an e-mail: “For 113 years REBNY has recognized that when New York City and [New York] State succeed, the real estate industry succeeds. We offer our assistance and advice to the governor in this effort to better serve his state through what can be an important alliance.”
According to the New Jersey Association of Realtors, which is supportive of the creation of what is called the New Jersey Real Estate Advisory Board, real estate investment makes up 21.5 percent, or $97.2 million, of the gross state product, according to 2006 figures, the latest data the group had available. The association will have a voice in the panel’s discussions with the group’s executive vice president, Jarrod Grasso, serving as a member.
The panel, which will hold its first meeting next month, consists of a who’s who of New Jersey real estate. The panel will be chaired by Joseph Taylor, president and CEO of Matrix Development Group, which has developed multiple commercial properties across the state. Weighing towards the commercial real estate sector, other board members include Richard LeFrak, chairman, president and CEO of the LeFrak Organization, one of the largest developers in Jersey City; former state Commerce Secretary Gil Medina, who heads Cushman & Wakefield’s New Jersey offices; Seena Stein, who heads Newmark Knight Frank’s New Jersey office; and Steven Pozycki, chairman and CEO of SJP Properties, which controls 10 million square feet of Class A office space statewide.
Cushman & Wakefield’s Medina said he believes the board will focus on bringing front-line real estate knowledge to Corzine, which would then help him more effectively develop policies that assist the industry. He noted that the members can bring news from larger commercial tenants in the state to the attention of Corzine and his staff. Medina believes commercial issues will dominate the panel’s meetings in 2009.
“Today, with the economy, it is important for the state to focus on the commercial and industrial side since it will have the most impact on job creation,” he said.
On the residential side, Medina said the group will likely advise Corzine to change the state’s current affordable housing funding rules, which are loathed by the development community.
Newmark Knight Frank’s Stein said that she and her colleagues in the commercial sector are excited about the creation of the board and the ability to have a direct pipeline to Corzine and his inner circle.
“Our hope and plan is to reach out and help business in New Jersey,” she said. “Knowing that we will be heard on this issue and identify the most important things is very positive to us.”