“Of the five major redevelopment projects in New Jersey, Scarinci Hollenbeck is legal counsel for three of them.”
With these words, Geoffrey L. Schubert, a real estate veteran who has navigated the New Jersey market for more than five decades, noted the prominent role Lyndhurst-based law firm Scarinci Hollenbeck is playing in New Jersey’s flourishing industrial and residential real estate development arena.
Founded in 1988, Scarinci Hollenbeck has earned a solid reputation navigating the complex legal issues in redevelopment projects. The growing 60+ attorney firm has assumed a leading role in building the future of the Meadowlands region and many other areas across New Jersey. Much of the firm’s success stems from the collective experience of its commercial real estate, environmental, and land use attorneys who have worked for many years in all aspects of realty infrastructure development. Combined with that, the firm’s extensive representation of many public entities in New Jersey adds a unique understanding of the needs and concerns of the municipalities who host these projects.
Historically, New Jersey was an industrial manufacturing state. But in recent years, growth has come from a seismic boom in construction and an economic resurgence that is presenting new challenges and exciting opportunities for real estate developers. The raising of the Bayonne Bridge, for example, is reshaping business in the region. With the ability for Post-Panamax ships to deliver goods to Port Elizabeth and Port Newark, there is now growing demand for industrial warehouse and logistics space. “We are proud to be assisting many REITs and developers with their due diligence, acquisition, entitlements, and development of these projects,” said Todd W. Terhune, chair of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Brownfield & Infrastructure Group.
Scarinci Hollenbeck Managing Partner Kenneth J. Hollenbeck is proud of the firm’s accomplishments. “We have ‘bench strength’ and significant institutional expertise from our almost 30 years of development and redevelopment history in the Meadowlands region,” said Hollenbeck. “We have assembled a highly accomplished team of attorneys from environmental, land use and realty asset practice areas to provide a full-service platform to skillfully manage the ambitious and challenging projects our clients continue to bring to us,” he continued. “Collectively, our team can handle—or has handled—all the intricacies of the redevelopment process. Our clients benefit from that experience, which spans the entire spectrum of industrial, infrastructure, commercial and multifamily uses.”
Founding partner Donald Scarinci agreed. “Our lawyers are able to anticipate challenges in the development process and resolve them before they become roadblocks,” he explained. “In the Meadowlands, in the inner cities and on the Gold Coast, there is no legal issue that might arise that one or more of our attorneys has not had experience resolving in the past.”
Prior to undertaking any redevelopment project, the first step is to consider the environmental priorities of the region. This is especially important in the Meadowlands, where many properties include regulated wetlands and restricted flood hazard zones. Many Meadowlands properties have also inherited environmental contamination from former industrial operations and landfilling, all of which create potentially complex geotechnical and remediation issues.
Scarinci Hollenbeck has extensive experience in the unique physical and regulatory environment of the Meadowlands region. The firm’s attorneys frequently assist businesses during the complex process of securing permits from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for development projects along waterways, in flood hazard zones and in wetlands. They also assist in obtaining grants and licenses for New Jersey areas affected by tidal waters.
John M. Scagnelli serves as environmental counsel to the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. At Scarinci Hollenbeck, he handles all areas of environmental law, including remediation projects and litigation relating to state environmental statutes such as the New Jersey Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA), the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Act) and others.
“We regularly assist companies developing properties in the Meadowlands and undertake site-specific review of the environmental, geotechnical and permitting issues which need to be addressed in connection with the redevelopment of the property before financial or contract related commitments are made,” Scagnelli explained.
Theodore A. Schwartz, widely known as one of New Jersey’s earliest environmental practitioners, is a key player in the firm’s Environmental and Land Use section. “Developers in many areas in New Jersey are faced with environmental contamination, geotechnical issues or the need for water-oriented environmental permitting,” he said. “But the fact is that in the Meadowlands, potential developers may be faced with all of these issues. The need to complete these projects in an acceptable timeframe—and at reasonable expense—demands that they rely upon professionals who can bring all of the skills necessary to address these complex and diverse issues to the table.”
Schwartz continued, “With this end in mind, our developer clients engage our firm with the expectation that we can coordinate and manage technical consultants and environmental regulatory obligations—from the planning and development stages, to site remediation and compliance to post-development.”
Currently, one of the largest and most complex projects in New Jersey is the redevelopment of the former Koppers Coke Peninsula in Kearny, requiring extensive redevelopment planning, site remediation review and permitting for the redevelopment of up to two million square feet of industrial space on a 175-acre waterfront tract.
“The Koppers Coke project represents the most significant industrial development project in Northern New Jersey, which the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority has determined will have a ‘vital’ economic impact on the Meadowlands region in providing thousands of construction and permanent jobs, not to mention ratables to the Town of Kearny and gentrification of the area,” said Joseph D. Morris, Chairman and CEO of Morris Companies. “The government has invested billions of dollars (dredging and bridge construction) to establish Port Newark/Elizabeth into a world class port and without projects like Koppers Coke there will not be adequate support facilities to handle cargo from Post-Panamax shipping. The project entails complex regulatory permitting and redevelopment challenges, not to mention interfacing on a routine basis with various governmental agencies, which Scarinci Hollenbeck has been effectively navigating on our behalf,” Morris continued.
Governmental approvals & entitlements
As the Meadowlands region and the entire state of New Jersey continue to evolve, developers seek areas for new construction where there is market demand and favorable government oversight. Donald M. Pepe, co-chair of the firm’s corporate transactional & business practice, devotes his practice to all aspects of real estate development and real estate transactional work with an emphasis on retail and residential development. He is currently working on three concept plans for Jersey City and Bayonne redevelopment projects, which have the combined potential, if approved, of adding 7,000 residential units and two million square feet of retail space.
Pepe explained that real estate development deals often become “long journeys with a lot of twists and turns.” His past experience as general counsel for one of the country’s largest residential real estate developers, and his work as redevelopment counsel in three states for a global big-box retail company, give him enhanced insight into the ins and outs of the development process.
Live, work, play developments
NJBIZ reports that in 2015, millennials surpassed baby boomers as the largest generational cohort in the United States. This younger market has embraced the “live, work, play” concept, which has led to a surge in the repurposing of former office buildings and other industrial sites to become multi-use properties with apartments, retail stores, restaurants, services and recreational amenities.
Patrick J. McNamara, a partner resident in Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Red Bank office, understands what this future holds for the industry through his work on various land use and zoning matters that have impacted pivotal projects in New Jersey. He represented the owners of the Monmouth Mall on its $400 million overhaul to convert an enclosed shopping mall into a 24/7 mixed-use live, work, shop, dine and recreate “town center,” the first of its kind in New Jersey. Since 2001, McNamara has also been closely involved with the redevelopment of Pier Village in Long Branch.
“Since millennials are such a large part of the population, what they want and where they live will continue to have a significant impact on the real estate development market,” McNamara explained.
With the depth and breadth of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s capabilities, the firm looks forward to assisting clients in the Meadowlands Region and beyond for the years to come. Suffice it to say that Scarinci Hollenbeck attorneys have the technical skills and experience to navigate the challenging process of development and redevelopment.
For more information about Scarinci Hollenbeck, please visit www.scarincihollenbeck.com or contact Peter Moeller at email@example.com or (201) 896-4100.