Jeff Babikian, executive vice president of CBRE, has become one of the most active and respected brokers in the Tri-State area. His approach has led to long-term relationships and a career representing Fortune 500 corporations to nonprofit institutions, as well as emerging growth companies in all facets of the commercial real estate process, on a local and national level. In 2019, Babikian was named to the advisory board of the Rutgers Center for Real Estate. He is consistently ranked as a top broker in the Saddle Brook office and has won numerous industry awards In recent years, Babikian has been a recipient and multiple-time nominee for NAIOP’s Transaction of the Year Award, and is a multiple Colbert Coldwell Circle recipient representing the nation’s top 3% of professionals.
As mayor of the state’s largest city, Baraka occupies a critically important position. On his watch the city has assembled an impressive array of redevelopment plans and the mayor insists that work is proceeding despite the pandemic. In fact, anyone who has walked around Newark recently, particularly the University Heights area, should notice a distinctly energetic urban vibe. The biggest lift will be improving the areas beyond downtown and away from the colleges and universities. Baraka is fortunate, though, to be joined in the efforts by officials at large anchor institutions, like Rutgers University and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Individuals who live and work in Newark express a deep fondness for the place and are invested in its future. Baraka’s own considerable zeal in advocating for Newark should be a source of confidence to the business community.
David Barry and Michael Barry
The Barry brothers have proven themselves as innovators and pioneers who challenged conventional wisdom and expanded the range of possibilities for how people live, work and interact. Co-owners of Ironstate Development Co. the Barrys have brought transformative thinking to neighborhoods in cities like Hoboken, Jersey City, Harrison and Montclair. This experience and thinking is exemplified in their current venture, Urby, a modern apartment brand that reimagines the residential experience for people living in and around cities, extending the urban fabric and lifestyle in new and imaginative ways. Urby currently has four large-scale properties in operation, with two in New Jersey. Approvals are in place for a new Urby development in Jersey City’s Journal Square neighborhood and construction is underway for phase III of Harrison Urby. Ironstate and joint venture partner Brookfield are also developing a new mixed-use project in Downtown Montclair that should energize a swath of Bloomfield Avenue and bolster the Essex County town’s reputation as a cultural, dining and shopping destination. Michael is an active trustee of the New Jersey Apartment Association. He was appointed by the governor to the state’s Landlord- Tenant policy committee and is a long-standing member of the Urban Land Institute. David has been a significant investor in a wide-range of innovative companies and lifestyle-oriented brands, including Peloton, Rumble, Catch, Standard Hotels, Chiltern Firehouse and The Newsstand to name a few. He is chairman of the Liberty Science Center and a founding board member of Beat the Streets Wrestling.
Jose Cruz,Jon Mikula and Frank Recine
Cruz is a senior managing director and co-office head in the New Jersey office of JLL Capital Markets, Americas. He joined JLL as part of the HFF acquisition and is a member of the firm’s leadership committee. He specializes in investment advisory throughout New Jersey, New York and Connecticut and also oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm’s New Jersey office. During the course of his more than 25-year commercial real estate career, he’s been involved in more than $28 billion of office, industrial, retail, multi-housing and land sales. Cruz started at HFF in March 2010. Before that, he was the executive director of Cushman & Wakefield’s New York area investment sales group, where he spent more than 17 years. He began his real estate career as a real estate analyst at PaineWebber, UBS, Inc. Miluka is a senior managing director in the New Jersey office of JLL Capital Markets, Americas. He is primarily responsible for arranging debt and equity placement transactions as well as being responsible for the day-to-day operations of the firm’s New Jersey office. Miluka started at HFF in May 2000. Mikula’s work complements that of Cruz. His skill as a mortgage broker has gotten him named one, if not the nicest and best, brokers in New Jersey. Completing the trio from JLL, Frank Recine is an executive managing director in the brokerage services division of JLL. He has a strong background in transaction structures, lease negotiations and consulting services. He is highly valued as a tenant, landlord and corporate services representative throughout the United States.Recine joined JLL from Newmark Knight Frank where he became the youngest principal during his tenure with the firm. He’s earned multiple real estate recognitions including JLL’s “Top Gun” the firm’s highest recognition in both 2018 & 2019.
Davis has been the driving force behind the Rutgers Center for Real Estate’s growth into one of the nation’s premier institutions of higher learning for those seeking to enter the field. After starting virtually from scratch five years ago, the center saw roughly 525 students enrolled in its courses for the 2018-2019 academic year, while courses such as law, finance and capital markets are full or nearly so on a consistent basis. Additionally, the executive committee and advisory boards count some of the most respected members of the commercial real estate world among its membership. Davis is widely published on issues related to the U.S. housing markets and has developed price indexes for land in residential use. He is regularly interviewed by NPR Marketplace, Bloomberg Radio, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times on house prices and housing markets and is a frequent lecturer at Universities and Central Banks around the world. His insight and that of the center could be widely sought by New Jersey’s CRE market, as the industry charts a rebound that could take years following the pandemic.
Steven Denholtz and Stephen Cassidy
As chief executive officer of Denholtz Properties, Steven Denholtz is responsible for the strategic direction of the company as well as its capital structure, supervision of all development opportunities, and spearheading of business development. Under his stewardship, the company has grown to more than 60 employees and doubled the square footage it owns and manages. Steven and Stephen have continued to lead Denholtz in its work to help stimulate downtown buildout by pursuing wide-ranging development and redevelopment projects across Red Bank, headlined by their The Rail @ Red Bank project. Their work in fostering such growth in the borough makes them an important piece of New Jersey’s commercial real estate industry. Additionally, Denholtz Properties is pursuing an ambitious development project at Fort Monmouth that will help give the property a second life. Stephen Cassidy has also overseen a dramatic reinvention of the firm’s internal operations to position it for long-term success. This work includes the hiring of Greg Brown, the company’s first COO, and a number of other strategic hiring that enhanced the firm’s capabilities as it looks to expand its development platform throughout the nation.
Gene Diaz and Edwin Cohen
As its ON3 campus grows, most recently to include the new headquarters of oncology- and neurology-focused pharmaceutical company Eisai Inc. and Prism Capital Partners itself, so too does the rest of the company where Diaz and Cohen are principals. The former Wonder Bread Factory in Hoboken is reportedly progressing into its second chapter as Wonder Lofts, with 83 for-sale and six rental multifamily units in three buildings. Diaz and Cohen expect the building’s sales office to open in March 2021 and to welcome residents in June. This project represents the duo’s first foray into the Hoboken multifamily market, Diaz noted in September, and they’re a housing option with all the bells and whistles of a modern day apartment building over 10,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenity space. In downtown Woodbridge, the framing of Prism’s transit oriented redevelopment is almost completed, eventually to include 232 apartments and 12,000 square feet of street-level retail space, with an expected occupancy of spring 2021. The location, 10 Green Street, was previously a former Lucas Chevrolet dealership site.
Forgione is a top transit-oriented developer in New Jersey, with developments in walking distance of a train station or ferry terminal in Maplewood, Denville, Bayonne, Plainfield, Little Falls, Berkeley Heights, and Glen Ridge. The firm he founded, JMF Properties, has more than a dozen residential, retail, and mixed-use projects that are under construction or were completed recently; and on the redevelopment side, three new projects announced within the last year in Morristown, Eatontown, and Hanover.In Plainfield, the Quin Sleepy Hollow luxury rental community was a pioneering investment in a local neighborhood that is now seeing additional investment dollars and further growth. “He’s aged gracefully,” one insider said. “For a guy who used to be total Jersey, he’s a much calmer middle aged guy and it probably helps his business.”
As the president and CEO of Branchburg-based Larken Associates, Gardner represents the second generation of his family to run the development firm founded by his father Lawrence in 1965. The elder Gardner now provides strategic direction as chairman, but David oversees all the company’s activities, including acquisitions and dispositions, portfolio and asset management, fundraising and placement, business planning and development. Larken has a deep and far-reaching commercial and residential portfolio across the state. On the residential side, the firm is building three large multifamily projects in New Jersey highlighted by the 198-unit Autumn Ridge at Lopatcong slated to open at the end of this year. These communities will join their Larken Living portfolio made up of 22 unique communities with 2,000 units spread across New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Their commercial portfolio includes three million square feet of office, industrial, retail, and self-storage buildings that are home to 800 tenants in two states. Gardner has been deeply involved with all facets of the development work as well as acquisitions on the commercial side. His leadership was also instrumental in the company’s ability to navigate the challenges presented by COVID-19 to large owners relatively unscathed and come out even stronger than before. Gardner is also widely known for his charitable work, organizing regular trips to Guatemala with From Houses to Homes, a non-profit organization providing sustainable housing, along with access to health care and education.
Goldberg is the founder and managing member of Canoe Brook Associates, a family-owned real estate consulting and development firm in Roseland. He was also a founding partner of Roseland Property Co. Since the inception of Roseland, Goldberg has been responsible for securing for the development of communities throughout the northeast with a special emphasis on urban waterfront development. He directed Roseland’s production of more than 1,500 homes annually and oversaw Roseland’s flagship endeavor, Port Imperial. Goldberg has a long history of political and industry-wide activism in New Jersey, with relationships with leaders throughout the state. In addition, he has been at the forefront of transit-oriented development, a movement many experts see as critical to smart, sustainable economic development.
Jingoli is chief executive officer of JINGOLI, a construction company with experience in the energy, industrial, health care, gaming and educational sectors. He is also a Partner in DCO Energy, one of the largest developers and operators of cogeneration and renewable energy projects in North America. Jingoli has more than three decades of expertise in construction, project management and energy development. He has a reputation throughout the construction and energy industries for his ability to use innovative strategies to bring projects to fruition. Jingoli is also passionate about giving back to the community. As part of the JINGOLI’s Competitive Edge community outreach program, the JINGOLI companies focus on mentoring youth, supporting small, minority and women-owned businesses, and hiring local workers within the communities they serve. Hard Rock Atlantic City partners Joe and Michael Jingoli showed their support to their employees as COVID-19 struck and they approved a $100 ShopRite gift card giveaway to all hourly team members including full-time, part-time, on-call and salary team members who make less than $50,000 annually. Joe Jingoli also spearheaded funding for the emergency food services in Atlantic City in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a collaboration between the Community Food Bank of New Jersey (CBFNJ), CRDA, Jingoli and Bailey families, the NJ AFL-CIO, Local 54 and other casino industry stakeholders and private donors.
The Meadowlands region is home to perhaps the biggest commercial real estate story of the past two years — the completion, after many fits and starts, of American Dream. The combination mega-mall and amusement park began opening last fall, before the pandemic shut most stores and all indoor entertainment facilities. As CEO of the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce, Kirkos has been an indefatigable defender of the project and believes it will be a major driver of development in the area. Next up is the fate of the arena that once hosted NBA and NHL teams but now is being used for television productions. Kirkos is among the officials pushing for its conversion to a conference center, which would complement American Dream, offering a business function alongside the shopping and entertainment center.
As chief executive officer of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, a nonprofit community development organization, Kolluri is been at the center of efforts to revitalize Camden. Nearly $2 billion in tax incentives have been awarded to companies considering staying in or moving to the city, Observers in Camden and in Trenton contend that positive change is coming to Camden, evident by the gleaming waterfront which Cooper’s Ferry Partnership played a major role in developing. “For 50 years, the city of Camden has never gotten the benefit,” Kolluri said in a November 2019 interview. “Anytime the country did well, economically, it somehow eluded Camden. When the country was going through periods of economic depression, we took it on the chin doubly.” The Black Lives Matter demonstrations over the summer, where local police officials, including Camden County Metro Police Chief Joe Wysocki, were seen marching alongside protestors, stood in stark contrast to the violent clashes sweeping the nation at the time. The scene was regarded as proof to many that after decades of decline, Camden was finally on the way back.
Kushner is president of Kushner Real Estate Group, one of the largest privately held diversified real estate companies in the state. He has 20-plus years of real estate investment and management experience and millions upon millions of square feet leased throughout New Jersey. KRE Group recently broke ground on the second phase of Bay 151, a residential development in Bayonne, following a successful Phase 1. Upon completion, the three phases project will have a total of 625 units and 10,000 square feet of retail space. KRE also recently closed on a $71 million construction loan to complete a new 345-unit luxury rental community in Rockaway with Russo Development. “For a last name that involves lots of histrionics on both sides of the family, he’s the exact opposite. Jonathan’s always the calmest person in the room,” one insider said.
LeFrak comes from a legendary real estate family. As CEO of that family’s firm he shares responsibility for the development and management of its extensive real estate portfolio as well as management of its other lines of business and over 1,000 employees. LeFrak is already one of the largest landlords in Jersey City and is leading the redevelopment of Newport, the 600-acre former rail yard on the Jersey City waterfront. In June LeFrak donated $100,000 to the Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) Foundation to support the growing needs at the RWJBarnabas Health facility as a result of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cushman & Wakefield boasts a huge presence in the tri-state area – 12 offices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – with four outposts and 200 employees in the Garden State. The firm’s operations here have been ranked among the best in the state by its peers and by NJBIZ readers. Merin, executive vice chairman in New Jersey — along with colleagues Gary Gabriel, David Bernhaut, Brian Whitmer and Kyle Schmidt — drive C&W’s New Jersey capital markets team, which handles major transactions across the northern and central regions of the state. In fact, according to the firm, the 17-member group has been responsible for $34 billion in transactions since 2000, including $3.3 billion last year, and as won NAIOP New Jersey’s Deal of the Year award seven times.
Milanaik joined Bridge Development Partners in 2014 when he opened the firm’s New Jersey office, bringing over 30 years of experience in commercial real estate. As partner for the Northeast, Milanaik oversees all regional acquisition and development activities, and to date has completed transactions involving more than over 9 million square feet of the development of Bridge Point 78, called the nation’s largest industrial project of 2019. The Phillipsburg site is the former home of an Ingersoll Rand warehouse that once employed 4,000 manufacturing workers, but sat vacant for decades until Bridge acquired the site to remediate it and develop Bridge Point 78. PGIM Real Estate announced at the end of October that it was buying Bridge Point 78 for $275 million. In 2019 under Milanaik’s watch, Bridge Development bought and developed a 7.47 acre site in Edison Township for Bridge Point Edison. Nearby, construction is underway for the three-building, 1.7 million-square-foot Bridge Point Somerset, spanning 129 acres in Franklin Township. One building alone will be 1.1 million square feet.
Hartz Mountain Industries Inc. has been a presence in the New Jersey commercial real estate market for more than half a century. And its leaders plan to be around for at least that much longer. The company boasts holdings up and down the East Coast and across markets, giving it a regionally and economically diverse portfolio. As president and chief operating officer Gus Milano will play a big role in keeping the company on taking a long view of the business. “We think long term— and this is a short term disruption,” he said of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Long term, where do you want to invest your money? We’re very, very comfortable investing in New Jersey on the waterfront. … We don’t expect to make changes based on a short-term disruption.”
Morreale is the guiding light for Vision Real Estate Partners — the firm he founded in 2006 — overseeing all aspects of acquisitions, developments and leasing. VREP’s new 35-acre two building Latitude campus, a joint venture with Rubenstein Partners, is billed as “a next-generation, holistic workplace,” bringing on tenants like accounting firm Sax LLP and CPG health and hygiene company Reckitt Benckiser. The firm focuses on redevelopment, adaptive reuse, master planning, and development in New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area, and has taken the reins on projects including the MetLife Investments global headquarters and Bayer’s 675,000 square foot North Campus in Whippany. Morreale is also on the board of trustees for National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.
Morris, a Highland Park native, has been in the real estate development business for more than 32 years. He founded Jack Morris Construction when he was 18, specializing in custom home-building. He now serves as president and CEO of Edgewood Properties Inc. which owns, operates and manages commercial and residential real estate around the country. Based in Piscataway, Edgewood employs more than 500 and Morris still personally oversees all aspects of the company’s operations. From its own excavation division performing all site work, demolition and environmental cleanups, to its in-house engineering and architectural firms, to its own law firm and property management company, Morris and his wife and partner, Sheryl Weingarten Morris provide an expansive vision and hands-on approach, combined with a fiscally conservative philosophy. As a result, Edgewood has become one of the nation’s fastest growing, privately held development and property management companies with millions of square feet of retail shopping centers, thousands of apartments and dozens of for sale communities throughout New Jersey, Massachusetts, California and Florida. Morris has also joined with Joseph Marino to form M&M Realty Partners to redevelop the Garden State Racetrack in Cherry Hill. One of the largest redevelopments in the history of the State, the former track has been transformed into a mixed-use community with about 1,700 residential units, more than 1.2 million square feet of retail and a lifestyle center. In addition, Morris acquired the former Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, partnering with Hard Rock International to transform the property into one of the largest hotel casinos that will help revitalize the resort town and employ thousands of workers throughout the year.