Keeping Up with Gold Coast: Q&A with David Wolfe, Skoloff & Wolfe
by Josh Anderson
JERSEY CITY, NJ — David Wolfe is the Managing Partner in the Property Tax Department at Skoloff & Wolfe, PC, where he focuses his practice on representing taxpayers in significant real estate tax matters. He has extensive experience in all types of property tax appeals, including multi-family, retail, hotel, office, and industrial properties. Mr. Wolfe serves as the Co-Chair of the Real Property Tax Practice Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association and is on the Board of the National Association of Property Tax Attorneys. Mr. Wolfe has represented clients in several of the transformative projects in Newark, including the Hotel Indigo, the Hahne & Co. Luxury Apartments and Whole Foods, Dinosaur BBQ, and the New Jersey Bell Headquarters Building at 540 Broad Street. In this Q&A, we connected with him to catch up on the latest in the New Jersey Gold Coast commercial real estate space.
CAPRE: Thanks for chatting with us today. David. How has 2019 been so far in the Gold Coast?
Wolfe: There’s been a lot of activity, in terms of large transactions and continued robust development. We’ve been working with clients to mitigate the impact of the revaluation from 2019. That was the focus a of a lot of institutional developers. Now that that has passed, a lot of the uncertainty of the Jersey City market has dissipated. Hoboken also continues to trade very strong and we’re still seeing deals in the multi-family arena.
CAPRE: What topics or themes are top of mind in the Gold Coast right now?
Wolfe: People are interested in seeing if there’s a perception of a slowdown in the amount of product coming online in Jersey City — around the absorption rates of multi-family deals. The developers continue to have pretty good leasing activity though. But a lot of people are also going to be interested in taxes. That continues to be a primary focus on those who operate property in New Jersey. And some property tax appeals are still pending for many developers. People re also going to be interested in the extension of the Gold Coast – the activity and growth of new sub-markets, whether that be in Bayonne or Fort Lee or even a Harrison or Newark. Are those starting to creep into this discussion as we continue to see more and more development?
CAPRE: What is the biggest challenge in the Gold Coast at the moment?
Wolfe: Land continues to be expensive and finding deals. A lot of people out there are looking for similar opportunities. There continues to be a lot of demand and of sites are attracting a lot of competition. There are differences between municipalities in terms of taxes too. one thing that’s changed a lot from Jersey City is that before, the majority of new development was built with PILOTs and abatements — which are no longer typical available there. That’s been a huge shift in terms of how projects are underwritten and developed. That’s definitely something that’s come into focus in the last year.
CAPRE: On the flip side, what is the greatest opportunity facing the Gold Coast?
Wolfe: Well, for example, the acquisition of SoHo Lofts by Roseland, at a very strong per unit cost. There continues to be great demand for high quality product in these markets. As more of these projects are delivered, Jersey City will continue to accrue to a sense of community, support more retail, and establish an even better lifestyle for residents. That’s an exciting thing for the city as a whole.
CAPRE: What national, or more macro, trends are impacting the Gold Coast conversation?
Wolfe: The commercial real estate industry is cognizant of the perception that we may be heading toward a pull-back and we may be heading toward the conclusion of this extended run that we’ve had. So people are being more careful when they’re underwriting deals, considering an environment of potential rising interest rates or rising interest rates.
CAPRE: How does the Gold Coast compare to other New Jersey sub-markets?
Wolfe: The Gold Coast is truly its own market, based on the amount of investment, the type of institutional investor. Outside the Gold Coast, you’re still seeing a lot of investment in multi-family and you’re seeing some significant deals coming online. But there has been a perception in the decrease in the number of significant deals coming online in the more suburban markets. New Jersey really is, as is with all real estate, the product of hundreds of markets. But the Gold Coast really stands out in New Jersey.
CAPRE: Indeed. Thanks a lot for your time, David. We’ll see you at a New Jersey commercial real estate summit soon!