EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — Infrastructure and logistics continue to be critical factors shaping New Jersey’s economic and real estate landscape. In the first installment of its 2018 “Building a Better NJ Series,” held at the Meadowlands Hilton in East Rutherford, NAIOP New Jersey invited top industry experts to examine key issues ranging from the future of the Gateway Project to supply chain challenges and the ongoing evolution of the Port region. “Funding for infrastructure and redevelopment and the explosive growth of e-commerce are just some of the factors that continue to impact the commercial real estate industry,” said Michael McGuinness, CEO of the New Jersey Chapter of the commercial real estate development association. “Our speakers provided insight into current trends and how New Jersey’s ongoing infrastructure and logistics issues are being addressed.
”Infrastructure Improvementsa Priority forMurphy Administration“Transportation is the lifeblood of a corridor state like New Jersey,” said Anthony Attanasio, executive director of the Utility & Transportation Contractors Association (UTCA) and one of Governor Phil Murphy’s chief transportation policy advisors. “The good news is that, with the renewal of the Transportation Trust Fund, our capital fund is robust. However, the reality is there is never enough funding for infrastructure.
”According to Attanasio, $1.2 billion in contracts was awarded in the first fiscal year, the bulk of it allocated to repaving the state’s roads. This fiscal year, only $300 million has been deployed. “We currently have a shortage of experienced staff and it is making it difficult to get money on the street,” he noted. “This administration promised the taxpayers delivery of a massive infrastructure program, and we need to address the people problem in order to get the rate of return we expect.
”When asked about the future of the Gateway rail tunnel project in the absence of federal funding, Attanasio said, “It’s in a precarious place. We need it, and we are in a position to move forward when funding is available, but right now it’s not.” He added that Governor Chris Christie’s cancelation of the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) tunnel project “was the greatest mistake of the last 50 years. We could start ARC today and it would still be done before Gateway.
”Attanasio assured attendees that Governor Murphy has made improving the state’s infrastructure a priority for his administration. “Every dollar invested in infrastructure returns $5 to the local economy. The governor recognizes that the economy will flow better when our infrastructure is working, which will positively impact your business.
”Financing LocalRedevelopment ProjectsThe Infrastructure panel discussion included an update on the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank (NJIB) as well as a look at redevelopment currently taking place in Newark and Harrison. Frank Scangarella, who has been with the bank (formerly the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust) for 14 years, outlined the agency’s new mission and the loan application process for developers.
“We provide funding primarily to local government units on wastewater, drinking water and remediation projects,” said Scangarella. “The redevelopment financing structure is a 50 percent market rate loan for 30 years, and we have made improvements such as rolling applications and a streamlined approval process. But the government doesn’t always work as fast as we want it to, so understand your needs and the loan approval schedule and plan your construction timeline accordingly.”