JERSEY CITY, NJ—(SBN)—Eugene Paolino has been beating the drum for development in New Jersey’s urban coast for more than three decades. He worked for the executive director of three different agencies, and saw close-up the early redevelopment in Port Jersey in the southern part of the city.
“I became convinced that Jersey City was on the brink of substantial development,” says Paolino in an interview with StateBroadcastNews.com for GlobeSt.com. “During all that time, I have been a real booster or promoter of Jersey City, because I saw it happening.”
Paolino, a partner with the Genova Burns law firm, was born in Jersey City, and has expertise in commercial law and real estate development, redevelopment law and tax abatement, zoning and land use law, commercial law, education law and corporate law. Paolino has played a critical role in some of Jersey City’s most iconic and significant real estate projects along New Jersey’s Hudson River “Gold Coast,” including 77 Hudson, 101 Hudson, The Beacon (the former Jersey City Medical Center), Saint Peter’s MacMahon Student Center, McGinley Square Redevelopment, Journal Square 2060 Redevelopment Area, and Liberty Harbor Redevelopment Area.
“I remember vividly when the Lefrak effort began, there was one building that Lefrak was focusing on, the Newport Financial Center,” says Paolino, recalling the early stages of redevelopment. “That was really the spark of the waterfront development.”
Development on the waterfront has proceeded differently than Paolino envisioned. “I thought the waterfront would be a commercial haven, it would be the back office space and the front office space for Wall Street, Wall Street West,” he says. “But it’s turned into a real homogeneous zone, with residential housing going up, as well as office space, banking, and investment houses, so it’s a real thriving community.”
Westward expansion of the waterfront development took longer than Paolino expected, but is now coming to fruition, with projects at Journal Square and other locations.
Besides its location across the river from Manhattan (“We have a better view than they do,” Paolino jokes), he credits New Jersey state economic policies such as real estate tax abatement (“very critical to the development of the waterfront,” he says), Economic Opportunity Act programs, sales tax programs, urban enterprise zones, have all been pivotal in encouraging development.
“Whenever New Yorkers do a comparison shopping between the cost of development in New Jersey as opposed to the cost of development in Manhattan, they come away shocked at how economically beneficial it is to develop here,” he says. “It’s simpler to get to Jersey City than it is to go uptown [in Manhattan].”
Paolino expects the area west and north of Journal Square will be next to develop. “We have an area called the Morris Canal area, that is called Liberty Harbor North. It is really ripe for development,” he says. Adjacent to Liberty Harbor North is the area around Jersey City Medical Center, also a prime location for future development, he says.
He thinks the southern part of Jersey City, the Greenville area, will take more economic incentives to get development going, and concludes that “the easier things to build are what’s going to happen first,” citing McGinley Square, Journal Square, and areas around St. Peter’s University and New Jersey City University as most likely to build out first.
“I think there has to be intelligent governmental understanding of development in terms of the economic incentives that are available, there has to be a lot of cooperation between the city, state and developers,” he says. “It has to be a business-friendly climate.”
Upscale luxury residential developments that are causing rents to spike, making Jersey City less affordable for long-time residents, do cause Paolino some concern. “That’s always a hard thing to manage and navigate,” he says. “I see the kind of development as being economically beneficial even for natives. People who have property here and whose property is being built around by developers, see their property values go up too. There is going to be a constant discussion between the community people, newcomers and new developers here. We have to keep the lines of dialogue open.”
You can hear the complete conversation with Eugene Paolino in the audio player below.