Fed not taking the juice away … yet

From HousingWire:

Fed changes tune on raising interest rates this year

The Federal Reserve has been forecasting an average two to four rate hikes in 2018, however the minutes from its latest meeting reveal a more dovish approach.

Many experts have been more bullish in their approach to increases to the federal funds rate in 2018, forecasting a total of four rate hikes for the year. Last year, experts even predicted the President Donald Trump’s selection for Federal Reserve Chair wouldn’t matter – the market would still see four rate hikes.

And after the administration passed tax reform at the end of last year, experts again forecasted an increase in the federal funds rate, saying it could cause the Fed to speed up rate hikes.

Now, Fed funds futures are forecasting the chances of four rate hikes in 2018 at 37%, down from the previous 40%.

This decrease in confidence for four rate hikes is due to minutes from the Federal Open Markets Committee’s May meeting, which revealed a more dovish approach to raising rates. The minutes showed that while the Fed still holds that the economy warrants gradual increases to the federal funds rate, in several Districts, contacts expressed concern about the possible adverse effects of tariffs and trade restrictions, including the potential for postponing or pulling back on capital spending.

Now, that number remains relatively unchanged as most still expect to see a rate hike next month. Traders in the federal funds futures market currently see more than a 90% chance of a June rate hike.

And May’s minutes seemed to confirm this outlook.

“Most participants judged that if incoming information broadly confirmed their economic outlook, it would likely soon be appropriate for the FOMC to take another step in removing policy accommodation,” the minutes stated.

And while many expected about three to four rate hikes in 2018 followed by about three more in 2019, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said the central bank may only have four more total rate hikes before it reaches the desired neutral level.

Posted in Economics, Mortgages, National Real Estate | 104 Comments

Start looking to sell?

From MarketWatch:

Thinking of selling your home? Do it before 2020, economists say

Prospective home buyers these days are probably feeling pressure to lock in a deal quickly given skyrocketing home prices across most of the country. But those who wait a couple of years may be rewarded.

Real-estate website Zillow and research firm Pulsenomics surveyed more than 100 real-estate experts and economists — and roughly half of them predicted that the next recession will begin sometime in 2020, most likely in the first quarter. That’s actually later than the panel’s previous prediction of late 2019.

This prediction dovetails with a survey of economists carried out by The Wall Street Journal earlier this month. The economic growth that started in 2009 and is the second-longest in U.S. history will likely end in 2020, they said. “The current economic expansion is getting long in the tooth by historical standards, and more late-cycle signs are emerging,” according to Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West, and one of the economists predicting a 2020 recession. Some 59% of private-sector economists in the Journal’s survey forecast a 2020 recession.

While the housing bubble prompted the last recession, experts generally agreed that real estate won’t play a major role in the next one. Indeed, the Zillow survey’s respondents estimated that home values will increase another 5.5% in 2018 to a median value of $220,800. “Housing affordability is a critical issue in nearly every market across the country, and while much remains unknown about the precise path of the U.S. economy in the years ahead, another housing market crisis is unlikely to be a central protagonist in the next nationwide downturn,” Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas said in the report.

Even though the housing market likely won’t be the cause of the next recession, an economic downturn would still have an impact on real estate.

“Any time there are widespread job losses, particularly if these job losses are protracted, the housing market softens — even if the housing market isn’t the central cause or most prominent casualty of the downturn,” Terrazas said. “The spillover to the housing market will depend on the depth, length and severity of the next recession and, if some parts of the country feel the impact worse than others, some localized regional housing markets could see deeper effects.”

Posted in Economics, Employment, National Real Estate | 188 Comments

If you thought the Russians were sneaky…

From NJ101.5:

If you’re looking to buy a house in New Jersey be forewarned – the people selling the house may have you under secret surveillance.

As the price of video security systems like nanny cams continues to drop and the units get smaller and smaller, an increasing number of home sellers are using the devices to record the conversations of prospective buyers in order to get information that may be useful to them in the event an offer for the home is made and negotiations follow.

“I had a listing where the owner was giving me a hard time during negotiations, indicating he was staying firm on his price because he knows the buyer loved the house,” said Dekanski. “When I asked him how do you know that, he said I was watching them on the nanny cam. And since then we’ve heard of it happening time and time again.”

He said this has become such an issue that “if we know that the property is being surveilled we do have to disclose it, the problem we have sometimes is that every homeowner isn’t forthcoming with that.”

He said a growing number of homeowners do have these systems, “so we do ask, and if they do say yes then, of course, we do disclose that they (the buyers) may be under surveillance when walking the property inside and out.”

Dekanski says under New Jersey law, if someone is going to have a surveillance system operating while prospective buyers are in their home they do have to disclose and it’s illegal to record somebody on your property without them knowing.

“You absolutely have to disclose to us as agents and to the buyers and anybody walking the property that there’s a possibility they may be under surveillance.”

He notes some individuals still may keep this information a secret so when someone on his team is showing a home, “I make sure I do instruct them when they first get going with us to tell the buyer to not speak their mind as far as motivation and pricing.”

“We don’t want to necessarily discuss our motivation, how much we like the home. We don’t want to show our cards, we want to negotiate as best we can.”

Dekanski says real estate agents aren’t thrilled about the uptick in surveillance recording devices being used because it can be deceptive — but also misleading.

“The reality is a conversation somebody has in your home, from the time they have that conversation to the time they maybe actually make an offer on the property, a lot can change.”

Posted in Humor, New Jersey Real Estate | 243 Comments

Hot or Not

From the Star Ledger:

These 15 N.J. real estate markets are sizzling hot right now, spring edition

15. Hoboken
Current home value: $788,190
Yearly growth: 8.16
Hoboken is a strong city for working millennials. It’s is a little younger than the rest of the state and is almost half non-family households.

14. Spring Lake
Current home value: $1,840,061
Yearly growth: 8.82
This one’s for the retirees: a third of Spring Lake’s population is over the age of 65.

13. Alpine
Current home value: $3,044,317
Yearly growth: 10.28
Alpine is the priciest municipality measured by Zillow, so it’s surprising it has room to grow. It’s also the smallest municipality on the list, with a population of only 1,500.

12. Westfield
Current home value: $752,887
Yearly growth: 10.56
This town of 30,000 is one of the wealthiest in Union County. It also has a higher-than-average percent of married couple households, at 82 percent.

11. Montclair
Current home value: $676,734
Yearly growth: 10.62
Montclair has made a name for itself as a millennial hub with a walkable downtown area.

10. Verona
Current home value: $484,090
Yearly growth: 10.64
Verona has the lowest home value on this list, indicating that it could be a relative bargain before its home values go up further.

9. Bradley Beach
Current home value: $558,114
Yearly growth: 10.68
Bradley Beach, a town 4,300, has a median income below the rest of the state — a rare quality on this list.

8. Summit
Current home value: $942,536
Yearly growth: 11.31
Summit’s home values are well above the rest of Union County.

7. Cresskill
Current home value: $624,987
Yearly growth: 11.96
This borough of 8,700 is nearly 90 percent married-couple households. Its median household income was $117,000, well above the New Jersey median but far from the highest in Bergen County.

6. Glen Ridge
Current home value: $678,930
Yearly growth: 12.48
This borough between Montclair and Bloomfield outpaced the growth of both towns this year, although Bloomfield is close behind.

5. Cranbury
Current home value: $730,387
Yearly growth: 12.69
This township has only 3,800 residents in its 13 square miles, and leans older and wealthier than the New Jersey average.

4. New Providence
Current home value: $659,631
Yearly growth: 14.29
New Providence has a median income almost double the rest of New Jersey. About 80 percent of its households are married couples.

3. Berkeley Heights
Current home value: $637,622
Yearly growth: 15.76
This town of 13,000 also has a median income almost double the New Jersey average.

2. Weehawken
Current home value: $734,698
Yearly growth: 19.27
Weehawken has benefitted from the gains in its Jersey City neighbor. The borough, one of the most expensive in Hudson County, is a close drive to New York City.

1. Jersey City
Current home value: $447,300
Yearly growth: 25.25
Jersey City remains at number one despite many changes to the list. Its more than 25 percent annual increase has been a boon to its population, but it came at a cost: The city recently conducted its first property assessment in decades, raising taxes in the downtown area.

Posted in Housing Bubble, Housing Recovery, New Jersey Real Estate | 141 Comments

You buyin’ this?

From the Star Ledger:

Murphy’s state bank would help working families, boost local economy

New Jersey has an investment problem.

The Garden State’s numerous credit downgrades, budget shortfalls, crumbling infrastructure, chronic underfunding of critical programs and priorities are well known. The source of these issues isn’t a lack of capital or wealth. New Jersey is among the nation’s wealthiest states with a growing millionaire population.

Many argue that Jersey’s credit woes stem from former Gov. Chris Christie’s continuation of ill-advised tax cuts that weakened state coffers, along with an underfunded pension system dating back to the Gov. Christie Whitman years. This irresponsible fiscal policy reinforced backwards, yet persistent notions that hedge funds and enormous corporations should be appeased before tax dollars are invested in small businesses, public services, and working families. New Jersey deposits taxpayer funds directly into Wall Street and foreign banks, coupling tax giveaways with misdirected investments and high fees.

Consider for a moment: whether you believe that our taxes should be lower or higher, your tax money, which is intended specifically to provide public services, ideally aimed at helping residents and maintaining public infrastructure, is filtered through Wall Street bankers and instead used as bonuses for financiers.

As a result, the state of New Jersey paid more than $1 billion in fees and $3 billion in interest to Wall Street for debt services in 2016. Payment of debt costs have been prioritized over meeting the public purpose for which they were borrowed. This system isn’t just immoral – it’s inefficient and irresponsible, a final blow in a line of schemes that Wall Street uses to steal our wages and our tax dollars, and it’s contributed to the stagnation of investment.

Murphy’s budget begins to address this, reinstating tax fairness and investing state dollars in priorities like education and transportation, but intractable structural issues remain.

A publicly owned bank which makes affordable loans to small businesses, directly finances public infrastructure, invests in green energy and efficiency programs, and refinances student loans, would put tax dollars to work properly: supporting New Jersey’s economy from the bottom up.

Posted in Economics, New Jersey Real Estate, Politics | 261 Comments

“This time it’s different”

Podcast from NPR:

Rising Home Prices Lead To Worries Of Another Housing Market Bubble

GOLDING: Is the area affordable? The bubbles are when you’re getting away from the fundamentals – when the demand is sort of outstripping the supply, but that demand can easily disappear.

VANEK SMITH: Ed and his team found that, nationally, the median household can afford the median house. So overall, housing in the U.S. is affordable, and that was not the case back in 2006.

GOLDING: Nationally, there’s really no sign of a bubble. But as real estate is local, we tried to focus on a few metropolitan areas that at least bore watching.

VANEK SMITH: In other words, there’s no national housing bubble, but there are, you know, baby bubbles.

GOLDING: I’m not using the bubble word. These are just cities that, based on our measure, show lack of affordability and a rapid rise in house prices. Many…

VANEK SMITH: OK, so this isn’t a bubble. This is just a little overheated maybe.

GOLDING: These are things – things are places to keep an eye on.

VANEK SMITH: These are places where housing is just way more expensive than the average resident can afford. Top cities – the top baby bubbles – were San Francisco and San Jose. In San Francisco, the Urban Institute concluded fewer than a quarter of local residents could afford to buy a home. Miami, Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles showed similar numbers, and so did Riverside, Calif., where developer Randall Lewis has seen business triple over the past couple years. And I asked Randall if this worried him.

LEWIS: Look, I remember going to a conference, and someone said the four most dangerous words in real estate are this time it’s different.

Posted in Housing Recovery, National Real Estate | 120 Comments

Are mortgages finally back to a solid level?

From National Mortgage News:

Mortgage delinquency rates down annually, a sign of a healthy economy

Despite an especially strong hurricane season last year, the national mortgage delinquency rate fell on an annual basis, signaling a healthier economy, according to CoreLogic’s Loan Performance Insights Report.

About 4.8% of mortgages nationwide were in some stage of delinquency in February, marking a 0.2 percentage point decline from a year ago.

The foreclosure inventory rate also fell 0.2% year-over-year in February, dipping from 0.8% to 0.6%. The foreclosure inventory rate has held steady at this reading since August 2017, the lowest level seen since it was also 0.6% back in June 2007.

“Overall delinquency rates fell in the U.S. over the past year, driven by a long run of stringent underwriting, higher employment and wages,” Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic, said in a press release.

“At the same time, our CoreLogic U.S. Home Price Index showed a 6.4% increase in home-price appreciation for the 12 months, which ended in February 2018. These factors bode well for the fortunes of both homeowners and mortgage servicers,” he said.

The share of early-stage delinquencies, describing loans that are 30-59 days past due, hit 2.1% in February, an uptick from 2% a year ago. The rate of mortgages that were 60-89 days past due remained unchanged at 0.7% on an annual basis, but did decline 0.1% from January.

Delinquency rates varied by state as factors like natural disasters took a toll on affected areas, namely Texas and Florida. Still, impacts from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma weren’t enough to negatively impact the national trend of decreasing delinquencies.

Posted in Economics, Foreclosures, Mortgages, National Real Estate | 156 Comments

No tax doomsday? Yet?

From Bloomberg:

Million-Dollar Home Values Gain Even as Tax Deductions Shrink

Adam Blaylock was pretty sure he overpriced his Santa Clara, California, home by offering it in February for $1.48 million, since tax deduction changes would keep buyers away. But within a week, the 1,280-square-foot ranch-style house was in contract for $155,000 above asking.

The $1.5 trillion tax overhaul President Donald Trump signed in December capped mortgage-interest deductions on loans up to $750,000, down from the prior limit of $1 million. It also set a $10,000 maximum for state and local tax deductions, which were previously unlimited. Those provisions prompted one of the most powerful lobbying groups — the National Association of Realtors — to warn that home prices in some high-end markets would tank.

So far though, those areas have proven to be resilient. There are 308 U.S. ZIP codes that have homes with median values in excess of $1 million — more than 92 percent of them saw their median home prices increase in March from a year earlier, according to data from online real estate database Zillow.

“We are seeing the opposite of what was expected,” said Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. “We have certainly not seen the doomsday predictions play out.”

Posted in National Real Estate, Politics, Property Taxes | 163 Comments

The puff piece returns … oh how I missed you

Warning, make sure you’ve got your boots on, the bullshit is deep in here.

From the Record:

High demand will spark bidding wars for houses in North Jersey this summer

Prospective home buyers can expect to go to war this spring and summer.

A low housing inventory coupled with high demand will spark bidding wars for houses in the entry- to middle-level home sectors, say local realtors, continuing a years-long trend in the residential real estate market.

“It’s a great time to be a seller,” said Ted Crocco, owner and broker of Bergen County Realty. “It’s not a great time to be a buyer.”

In the Montclair area, the number of days a home is on the market has plummeted, dropping from 77 days in 2012 to 36 days in 2017, according to the real estate firm Stanton Company. Diane Russell, a realtor at the company, said houses can sometimes sell in mere hours.

“If you’re a buyer in the $600,000 to $900,000 range, it’s very competitive,” Russell said. “They’re going through multiple rounds of putting in offers.”

Russell said she frequently has to educate first-time buyers on how much the asking price and sale price can differ. Stanton Company sold one home at 18 percent above the asking price last year, she said.

Homes in Montclair, Maplewood, Glen Ridge and other towns with train stations consistently sell above the asking price, while homes in towns without stations lag behind, both in sales price versus asking price and days on the market, the company said.

For those wading into the residential real estate market for the first time, it will be tough to gain a foothold, said Crocco of Bergen County Realty.

“It’s a difficult time to be a young buyer right now,” Crocco said. “We have buyers that made several offers on several houses offering the asking price or more, and they’re turned down.”

Entry-level buyers are being forced into bidding wars and facing rising mortgage interest rates. The average rate on the 30-year fixed is at its highest level in more than four years and is not expected to fall back, as it did last year.

Higher mortgage rates usually cool home prices, as buyers can’t afford as much and sellers have to accommodate. The difference in today’s market is that there is so much pent-up demand from the largest generation, and the economy and employment are improving. That dynamic could outweigh higher rates, although at some level there has to be a breaking point, especially for young buyers with less cushion in their wallets.

“Affordability continues to slip away from the average buyer. Lower-priced homes are appreciating much faster than higher-priced properties, making the affordability crisis even worse,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

Posted in Housing Bubble, Humor | 169 Comments

Feeling Hot Hot Hot

From MarketWatch:

Americans haven’t been this optimistic about house prices since just before the crash

House prices are soaring and, despite warnings from some analysts, most Americans believe they will continue to soar.

A majority of U.S. adults (64%) continue to believe home prices in their local area will increase over the next year, a survey released Monday by polling firm Gallup concluded. That’s up nine percentage points over the past two years and is the highest percentage since before the housing market crash and Great Recession in the mid-2000s.

The level of optimism is edging closer to the 70% of adults in 2005 who said prices would continue rising. That, of course, was less than one year before the peak of the housing market bubble in early 2006, which was largely fueled by a wave of subprime lending. (Roughly one-quarter of respondents in both 2005 and 2018 said they believed house prices would remain the same.)

In 2009, during the depths of the Great Recession, only 22% of Americans believed house prices would rise. But optimism about the housing market has made a slow recovery—along with the market itself—in the intervening years. Today, only 10% in the Gallup survey believe prices will fall. That compares to 5% who felt similarly pessimistic in 2005, just two years before the crash.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Housing Bubble, National Real Estate | 75 Comments

Will the feds accept it?

From the Star Ledger:

Murphy moves to save your property tax break from Trump. But will it stick?

Gov. Phil Murphy just took action to save your federal property tax break from President Donald Trump’s new tax law.

The Democratic governor signed a law Friday that gives New Jersey taxpayers a shot at getting around the Republican tax overhaul, which sets limits on how much they can deduct in state and local taxes.

The law Murphy, a frequent Trump critic, signed will soon allow New Jersey’s towns, counties and school districts to set up charitable funds that taxpayers can contribute to instead of paying property taxes directly.

Homeowners can then deduct those charitable contributions from their federal income taxes, uncapped.

“We know that President Trump and the leadership in Congress cooked this up to benefit the states that were with him, instead of treating everyone fairly, and give a windfall to the wealthiest individuals in the biggest companies,” Murphy said before signing the law at East Rutherford’s town hall.

“It is divisive, it is wrong, and we will continue to fight,” the governor added.

New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the country, averaging $8,690 last year. The state and local tax deduction helped take the edge off.

Though 61.5 percent of New Jersey households will see a tax decrease under the federal law, that’s a smaller percentage than 45 other states, according to the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the progressive Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.

And more than 1 in 10 New Jersey households will see their taxes rise, more than any other state, according to the group.

Murphy said Friday that Trump’s cap is “a de facto tax hike on countless New Jersey households.”

But there’s no guarantee the Internal Revenue Service will allow these deductions. The Trump administration is opposed to the workaround, saying the state and local tax deduction is an unfair subsidy for high-tax states.

Republican state lawmakers skeptical of the scheme have warned that New Jerseyans could wind up facing fines and penalties if the IRS rejects it.

Posted in New Jersey Real Estate, Politics, Property Taxes | 55 Comments

At least someone wants to be here

From the WSJ:

New Jersey Landlords Can’t Keep Up With Demand For Industrial Space

Industrial space in New Jersey is so hot that lease deals are drying up.

Across the state, which has become a major logistics hub for online retailers and other industrial tenants, 5.3 million square feet of leases were signed in the first quarter, about 27% less than the average from 2015 to 2017, according to a new report from real estate services firm JLL.

The main culprit: a lack of space.

That is reflected in asking rents, which jumped 11.7% from the same quarter a year earlier to $7.14 a square foot.

“There is an extraordinary under supply of quality space, and when you have an undersupply, you have a reduction in leasing activity,” said Robert Kossar, head of the Northeast industrial region for JLL. He added, “There has been no downturn of demand at all, and if anything, there has been an uptick.”

Available space in New Jersey is constrained across the board, but is even more acute for tenants on the hunt for big-box lease deals of 500,000 square feet or more, Mr. Kossar said. In the last two quarters of 2017, big-box leasing accounted for more than 30% of the total amount of space leased. But in the first three months of the year, no leases larger than 500,000 square feet were signed.

Of the four buildings existing or under construction that had over 500,000 square feet available at the end of the first quarter, only one was in the state’s primary corridor along the New Jersey Turnpike, said Iggy Armenia, JLL vice president of research and analytics.

At the same time, demand has been increasing. The state’s market has about 15 million square feet of space that can accommodate tenants requiring blocks of space larger than 100,000 square feet. But there is about 35 million square feet now sought by tenants, Mr. Armenia noted.

Almost 11 million square feet of warehouse space was under construction in the first quarter, compared with 9.2 million square feet of space in the pipeline in the first quarter of 2017. Nine speculative projects of 3.5 million square feet expected to break ground in the second quarter.

But despite increased construction, few land sites exist for development, and the space under construction is often leased before the building is completed, Mr. Kossar said. So expect asking rents for this new space to be at “high-water mark levels,” the report said.

Posted in Economics, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 110 Comments

How do we sleep while our beds are burning?

From the WSJ:

‘My Clients Are Fleeing NJ Like It’s on Fire’

That headline arrives via email from a money manager in northern New Jersey. The Garden State already has the third largest overall tax burden and the country’s highest property tax collections per capita. Now that federal reform has limited the deduction for state and local taxes, the price of government is surging again among high-income earners in New Jersey and other blue states. Taxpayers are searching for the exits.

In the financial industry of course it’s not just the clients who are looking for greener pastures. One hedge fund manager moving his office to a southern state reports that his new home on a golf course will be more than double the size of his house in Chatham, N.J. while generating just one third of the current property tax bill.

Others are staying out of necessity, but that doesn’t mean they want to bet on a Jersey comeback. “The apartment market in New Jersey is booming because nobody wants to own here. As soon as people are not tied to the area for business reasons, they leave,” says Jeffrey Sica, founder of Circle Squared, an alternative investments firm. “We structure real estate deals for family offices and high-net-worth individuals and at a record pace those family offices and individuals are leaving the TriState for lower-tax states. Probably a dozen this year at least,” he writes via email.

In the decade ending in 2016, real economic growth in New Jersey clocked in at a compound annual percentage rate of 0.1, just slightly higher than John Blutarsky’s GPA and less than a tenth of the national average for economic growth.

The Tax Foundation ranks New Jersey dead last among the 50 states for its business tax climate. So naturally new Governor Phil Murphy is proposing an even larger tax burden. A little more than 100 days into his term, Mr. Murphy seems determined to make New Jersey residents miss Chris Christie.

Steven Malanga calls Mr. Murphy’s plan “the U-Haul Budget” for the new incentives it gives New Jersey residents to flee. Your humble correspondent participated in a panel discussion at an event hosted by the Garden State Initiative today and was pleased to discover that at least some residents of New Jersey are not yet ready to abandon hope. They’re urging Gov. Murphy to make the state’s tax burden competitive again. Following federal reform, the residents who remain in blue states have a whole new reason to demand that politicians put out the fire.

Posted in General | 99 Comments

How high can it go?

From CNBC:

March home prices make their biggest jump in 4 years—and half of the biggest housing markets are now overvalued

Home prices have been rising steadily since the recession, but the gains are suddenly accelerating as spring demand heats up in an already highly lean and competitive market.

Prices surged 7 percent higher in March compared with a year ago, according to CoreLogic. That is the biggest gain since May 2014. All 50 states saw home values increase, and prices are now higher than they were at the peak of the last housing boom, although that does not account for inflation.

“High demand and limited supply have pushed home prices above where they were in early 2006,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. “New construction still lags historically normal levels, keeping upward pressure on prices.”

The price gains are greatest in the nation’s largest markets. Half of the nation’s 50 largest markets are now considered overvalued, meaning home prices are at least 10 percent higher than the long-term, sustainable level.

Las Vegas, San Francisco, Denver and Los Angeles are all overvalued, as are Miami, Houston and Washington, D.C., according to CoreLogic.

Prices are seeing the biggest gains at the lower end of the market, where supply is leanest. Sales of homes priced under $100,000 fell more than 20 percent in March, according to the National Association of Realtors, not because there wasn’t demand, but because there was not enough supply.

Posted in Economics, Employment, Housing Recovery, National Real Estate | 96 Comments

Has Newark made it?

From Bloomberg:

A $1 Billion Real Estate Boost for Battered Newark

SJP Properties and Aetna Realty are planning to spend as much as $1 billion on a project beside a Newark, New Jersey, commuter-rail hub, the latest in a spree of upscale developments that have brought new optimism to the long-suffering city.

SJP and Aetna, both based in New York, envision offices, stores, a hotel, homes and a large public plaza next to the Broad Street hub. The station is one of two in New Jersey’s largest city, the other being Newark Penn Station, about a mile to the southeast.

Steven J. Pozycki, founder and chief executive officer of SJP, said it will be critical to find a company to move in and anchor the development. The location, which is accessible by mass transit and car and minutes from Newark Liberty International Airport, should act as a magnet, he said. The 2 million-square-foot (185,000-square-meter) project will run along University Avenue and Orange Street, at the site of a former Westinghouse Electric Co. factory.

Riots back in the 1960s scared developers away from Newark. With a reputation for crime and poverty, the city, just 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Manhattan, has largely missed out on the urban revival other U.S. cities have enjoyed. The new project, on which the developers plan to spend $700 million to $1 billion, is the most recent sign that Newark’s fortunes are improving.

Other projects include the construction of a new Prudential Financial office tower, the development of an abandoned department store into a mixed-use property that includes a Whole Foods supermarket, and the conversion of the old New Jersey Bell skyscraper into apartments. SJP helped build the Prudential tower and a headquarters for Panasonic Corp. Newark is among 20 cities shortlisted by Amazon.com Inc. for its second North American headquarters.

Posted in Economics, Employment, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 63 Comments