Chris Murphy Says “There Could Not Be a Better Time to Be in This Market” | CAPRE’s New Jersey Apartment Summit Preview

NEWARK, NJ — Chris J. Murphy, Esq. leads the land use and economic incentive advisory practices at Murphy Partners LLP, a boutique law firm with offices in Newark, New Jersey and New York City. Chris regularly represents clients in connection with the procurement of zoning, land use, and other development approvals, with a particular focus on the City of Newark. He also specializes in helping clients identify, negotiate, and secure real estate and economic development incentives, such as tax credits, tax abatements and exemptions, cash grants, low-interest loans, and other forms of non-dilutive financing. Prior to founding Murphy Partners LLP, Chris was a member of the Lt. Governor’s New Jersey Business Action Center, where he advised businesses and developers through the State’s vast array of economic incentive and financing programs offered through NJEDA and other state agencies. Chris will be a featured speaker at CAPRE’s Apartment Summit, so we connected with him to learn about the latest on the ground in Newark.

CAPRE: What’s the latest at Murphy Partners? What’s your firm’s strategy for the rest of 2019 and into 2020?

Murphy: We have had a great year. Since starting the firm in 2017, we have grown at a steady pace, adding highly skilled attorneys with specialized skillsets to service our commercial real estate focused clientele. As a focus driven, cost leader in the commercial real estate legal space, we believe we offer a valuable alternative to the traditional law firm model. We have found a real need for our services, which has allowed us to grow organically over the past few years. We anticipate a strong end to 2019 and look forward to some exciting developments in early 2020.

CAPRE: What are you looking forward to about CAPRE’s Apartment Summit in December?

Murphy: This is going to be a great event. Multifamily development is an incredibly attractive asset class to developers throughout New Jersey. While our panel will focus on multifamily development in the City of Newark, I am excited to hear about how developers throughout the State are leveraging resources at the federal, state, and local levels to make projects economically viable, including the recently enacted Opportunity Zone Program, PILOTs, and federal tax credits for low income housing development. I am also looking forward to hearing about challenges that developers face and how policy can be changed to address issues in multifamily development.

CAPRE: What is the most exciting opportunity or challenge facing you and your team right now?

Chris Murphy, Murphy Partners

Murphy: As a Newark-based law firm specializing in commercial real estate and development, there could not be a better time to be in this market. We get calls every day from out-of-state developers seeking development opportunities in Newark. The city is moving forward at a rapid pace – shovels are in the ground; projects are getting done. That being said, because the city is such a hotspot for development, there are naturally a significant amount of development applications pending before the city’s Planning and Zoning boards. While delays in the development process are not unique to Newark, for us, it is important to educate clients on the timelines necessary to get a project approved. In some cases, setting expectations can become a challenge. 

CAPRE: What is the biggest difference you’ve seen in the NJ multifamily market since this time last year?

Murphy: Over the past year, we have seen a push for public policy to address issues related to affordable housing. In Newark, the City’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance (IZO) was enacted by the current administration to address affordable housing needs throughout the City. The administration has played an active role in encouraging development, while also making sure that the residents that have lived in Newark for the last 50 years are able to stay here and take part in the city’s progress. We have seen similar policies proposed in cities throughout New Jersey. While the need for affordable housing is real, it is also important for policymakers to understand that projects must remain economically viable in order to move forward. This can be accomplished through state and local incentives tied to affordable housing development. Newark has been at the forefront of encouraging development, while also understanding the need for a project to pencil out.

CAPRE: What is unique about Newark, as opposed to some nearby sub-markets?

Murphy: If you haven’t been to Newark in the past 5 years (or just came in for a Devils game and left), you probably don’t quite understand how much has recently happened here. When I have clients come into Newark for lunch, and I have an opportunity to walk them down Halsey Street or Ferry Street, they are generally blown away. There is so much energy in this city. I encourage people to come to Newark to see it for themselves.

CAPRE: What should attendees at CAPRE’s Apartment Summit know about your team and your value proposition? Why should they stop by your booth?

Murphy: We know what we do, and we do it well. We are an alternative to the traditional law firm model. We have created a firm that provides clients with big firm expertise (our attorneys generally have big firm or big institutional experience), with the personal touch of a boutique. By streamlining processes and keeping overhead low, we are able to pass benefits along to clients in the form of competitive fee structures. We are also based in Newark and spend a significant amount of time dealing with the city’s professionals and presenting before the city’s land use boards. We find this to be an added benefit to our clients developing in our backyard.

Hear more from Murphy at CAPRE’s Ninth Annual New Jersey Apartment Summit & Awards on December 4 in Jersey City, NJ.

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