Alkova Properties’ Shergoh Alkilani Says Transit Will Be Biggest Hurdle for Long-Term NJ Multi-Family Growth
by Josh Anderson
JERSEY CITY, NJ — CapRE’s Second Annual New Jersey Gold Coast North & Bergen County CRE Summit, moderated by Brian Klebash, Founder and CEO of CapRE, featured a panel titled Multifamily Outlook: Analysis of Leasing Trends and Absorption in the Region’s Luxury, Mixed-Use and Affordable Units. A large part of that panel was comprised of insight from Shergoh Alkilani, Principal at Alkova Companies, who provided a wealth of insight into how transportation affects the New Jersey multi-family arena.
“I think that the transportation aspect is so important,” he began. “My hometown, Cliffside Park, is 30 minutes away from Midtown. It’s two miles away in a straight line. Unfortunately the Hudson river seems to get in the way. If you look at Journal Square, or even Elizabeth – and I have a good friend developing a large project at Elizabeth – you’re two stops into Manhattan. So it’s faster to get into Manhattan from Elizabeth, which is something like thirteen or twenty miles away from Manhattan, than it is from my home. So there’s a lot of factors changing those two communities.”
“I’m a huge proponent of high-density, urban development – I think it’s the way that humans should live on this planet to reduce our footprint,” Alikilani shared. “So I’m a big advocate for growing this region, but transportation is going to be our biggest hurdle. I know that people shrug their shoulders and roll their eyes when we talk about automated vehicles, but none of the people in this room are qualified to make that decision – including myself. There are major, major brains all over the world working on this, people who have dedicated their entire lives to that.”
Alkilani then posited that as people continue to migrate to the coasts and away from areas like the Midwest, whether it’s in the next five years or ten years, most of the big players in the industry are building structures that are antiquated. “DMG is doing something in Cliffside Park which is automated parking,” he revealed. “I’ve always been freaked out by it myself, but when you look at the building square footage that’s being used up by their parking, versus the building square footage that you have for example at the Duchess in North Bergen, which is a rental building that I recently opened up, you have like, I would say, at least 150,000 square feet of concrete that you’re pouring, for a building that in maybe ten years, what are you going to do with that space? It’s hard to retro-fit garage space.”
“So we’re proponents of Jersey City, where there’s half a space per unit for the most part in some neighborhoods,” he said, preparing to hand off the microphone to the next panelist in line. “And our first deal in Jersey City is on the West side. We never thought we’d be doing something in Jersey City but the West side is sort of more in our neck of the woods – it’s contaminated sites pressing up against the NJCU Campus, in what’s considered a bad neighborhood. You’ve got Panepinto there, you’ve got fields development there, and the NJCU campus is Claremont Construction and a handful of other companies. So that West side market is even proving to have a potential demand. There’s not a lot of already built, but there is a lot already under construction. You’re on the light rail line and that gets you there relatively quickly.”
For more from Alkilani, check out previous CapRE Insider Reports: