New Jersey has been tectonically quiet for centuries, but that doesn’t mean the landscape is immutable. The state’s built environment is changing constantly, with the pace of development quickening or slackening in response to economic and cultural forces. As it happens we are now in a period of kinetic activity.
The most visible manifestation of this epoch just opened in East Rutherford: The American Dream Mall has begun welcoming visitors after more than a decade of fits starts and the expenditure of an estimated $5 billion. Shopping malls in general have seen better days, but the developers of the Meadowlands project are betting that their idea – of a unique retail, entertainment and recreational destination – will buck the trend. Frankly, just getting the thing open is an accomplishment, which is reflected in the presence of several individuals responsible for the project in this list.
But there’s more going on around the state. The rise of e-commerce has created perhaps the hottest industrial market in the country. Demand for walkable communities is fueling the revitalization of New Jersey’s old cities. Even suburban office parks – once the bane of planning professionals and mass transit advocates – are being reimagined as technology hubs.
New Jersey will look quite different five, 10 and 25 years from now. The people whose achievements and influence we recognize in these pages will be the primary agents of those changes. They are developers, builders, brokers, policymakers and – above all – visionaries. What they see in their mind’s eye will one day be rendered in brick, mortar and sculpted earth.
So as you read through the profiles, consider what each one suggests about New Jersey’s future. And let us know what you think – about our selections and about where the state is headed.