A Brief History of CRE Since NAIOP NJ Began
By the 1970s, New Jersey led the nation in the production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and had evolved four distinct areas: the Hudson-to-Trenton manufacturing hub with chemical and major pharmaceutical, apparel, petroleum, and glass industries; the Atlantic coast “vacation” region from New York Harbor to Atlantic City/Cape May; the Pinelands; and the southern, western and northern regions comprised of farms, forests and wealthy suburbs.
In 1970, a lunch meeting between David Steiner and Frank Visceglia, Sr. was the genesis of the New Jersey Chapter of NAIOP, uniting all facets of the non-residential development sector to advocate for pro-growth public policies. New Urban Enterprise Zone incentives led to the construction of numerous malls and big-box retailers, such as the Elizabeth Center and Jersey Gardens. Ground was broken on Giants Stadium & the Meadowlands Racetrack in 1972, and both opened in 1976. The focus on suburban office development spurred the building of millions of square feet of class A office space into the 1980s.
The 1980s brought the “cubicle farm” to the office environment, and the rise of the industrial warehousing complex known as “8A” pioneered by Matrix Development Group. Between 1982 and 1992, Trenton saw more than a dozen office buildings constructed, primarily state government offices. Burlington County saw a spurt of commercial growth as more than five million square feet of commercial space were built within five years between Exits 4 and 5 of the Turnpike.
The 1990s were challenging for New Jersey cities, as the total value of property dropped slightly as values in suburban and rural towns continued to escalate. After decades of decline, Perth Amboy welcomed $600 million in housing and retail development to be built on former industrial sites. The state offered incentives for the redevelopment of brownfields. By the end of the 1990s, with a booming national economy and New Jersey’s concentration of skilled and specialized labor, most of its cities began to experience a slight rebound.
In the new century, New Jersey’s strategic location, transportation network and increased port activity propelled the growth of industrial real estate. By 2008, northern New Jersey was the 9th largest market for co-location and data center services in the US, and first in broadband telecommunications. Demand grew for flexible work spaces. Super Storm Sandy in 2012 fueled demand for resilience…the security of duplicated systems, back-up generators, and even redundant utility feeds.
As we moved further into the century, e-commerce drove a red-hot industrial market and ever-expanding warehouse distribution facilities. Demographic shifts, globalization, the mobile economy, the imperative to capture and retain young talent, aging infrastructure, and sustainable energy influenced public policy and investment decisions.
Although the term “telecommute” was coined way back in 1972, only a fraction of the work force worked remotely until the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.