NJ Homebuilders Create Affiliate to Lobby for Multifamily Development
June 20th, 2011 by Jay Corbalis
In yet another sign that the real estate market is moving away from the typical suburban, single-family housing toward more compact, walkable development, the New Jersey Builders Association recently announced the formation of an affiliate organization to advocate specifically for multifamily housing issues. The organization will be known as the Mixed-Use Developers Association, and will “advocate for legislative and regulatory issues on behalf of multifamily developers” and “aims to promote the production of more rental units, particularly in New Jersey’s suburban areas.”
The organization will be chaired by George Vallone, CEO of Hoboken Brownstone Co., which received a Smart Growth Award from New Jersey Future in 2010 for its role in the Maxwell Place project in Hoboken. The group also features New Jersey Future corporate members Avalon Bay Inc. and Woodmont Properties.
The move by the builders makes sense given the larger economic and demographic trends in New Jersey. Young professionals are increasingly rejecting the quiet suburban lifestyle, in favor of more urban settings, leading to a boom in residential construction in places like Hoboken and Jersey City. Meanwhile, many so called “empty-nesters” are looking to downsize from larger houses, often to more vibrant and walkable places. While the market has been slowly responding–a recent New Jersey Future analysis of building permit data found a significant increase in the number of permits issued in “built-out” municipalities– there is a large gap between supply and demand for rental and multifamily housing in New Jersey.
The group has identified several policy priorities for its first year, including the State Plan and water quality management, both areas in which the group could have a big impact. On the State Plan, which is currently being reevaluated by the Christie administration, the group could help ensure that the new plan lines up incentives and regulations to encourage residential growth in appropriate areas. In the more esoteric area of water quality management, the builders could have even more impact. Counties are now undergoing a process of revising their wastewater management plans to align sewer service areas (a prerequisite for compact and multifamily growth) with environmental conditions and treatment capacity, a shift that will significantly alter where development can happen in the state. The process is at a crucial juncture, and it is unclear whether the state will follow through with plans to redraw service boundaries. The builders’ group could play a role in the debate by pushing for the process to continue, which would create certainty about where growth is allowed.
New Jersey Future looks forward to working with the group on these and other issues.