People Want to Live in Jersey City, But What if They Can’t Reliably Get to Manhattan? | Silverman’s John Reichart Previews CAPRE’s NJ Apartment Summit
JERSEY CITY, NJ — SILVERMAN has created over 1,000 residences and over 500,000 square feet of commercial and light industrial space, translating to thousands of jobs and new homes. What started 35 years ago as an architectural vision for Jersey City’s downtown has grown into a deep affection for its diverse, dynamic residents. Founded by brothers Eric and Paul, SILVERMAN is a company comprised of caring and friendly people, proud of the roots established in 1981, which continues its tradition of building Jersey City’s best collection of apartments, stores, offices and schools. In preparation of CAPRE’s New Jersey Apartment Summit December 4, CAPRE connected with John Reichart, Director of Operations, to showcase Silverman’s story as well as the latest market trends on the ground in the Garden State.
Reichart: I got into real estate in 2002 when I purchased a small rental property in Jersey City. My wife and I then started renovating some family-owned properties. I was a police officer at the time, and met Paul and Eric Silverman when I got involved with the Historical Downtown Special Improvement District for the city and started working for them in 2006.
Paul offered me a full-time position in 2009 and I’ve since been very involved with the revitalization of Jersey City, including Groove on Grove, as well as turning Grove Street into a pedestrian walkway. I now oversee the day to day operations of all Silverman-owned property, and I work with construction side of things to make sure the products we are building are going to be comfortable and appealing to renters.
CAPRE: Through all of this history, what has been your guiding strategy?
Reichart: The thing that’s always on our plate, always on the forefront of our minds, is the customer. Our company was started in 1981 and I’m happy to say that in my opinion, we have the best reputation for customer service in the city. We realize that making people happy is really our only job. People have busy lives and families and we’re lucky to have them call our buildings their home. It’s one of those things where we look at what we do as really making these people a part of our family.
We really care about the individuals, not just the bottom line dollars. Dollars are important, but people are more important. I’ve learned more about being a good citizen and a good parent from Paul and Eric Silverman than I have about being a good businessman. We have an 86% renewal rate, and most people who don’t renew are usually moving to the suburbs, or are moving for work or other things. We rarely lose them to a competitor. By and large, people are happy with the service that we provide.
CAPRE: What projects have Silverman been keeping busy with?
Reichart: We’re just finishing demolition in our newest project, on Erie St. in the Hamilton Park Neighborhood. It’s a nine-story, 58-residential unit, mixed-used building with 40,000 square feet of office space. That’s on the forefront of our minds, and that’ll be built through 2020, probably opening sometime in Spring of 2021. Plus we have a couple of other projects – we have a high rise between Morgan and Bay, on Marin Boulevard, that will probably start construction soon, in 2020.
CAPRE: What are you looking forward to about CAPRE’s New Jersey Apartment Summit in December?
Reichart: One of the things that is exciting for us – and this is something that we excel at – is marrying the retail to the residential. We’ve found that curing our retail space and making sure it’s the right fit, a good service for the neighborhood, is key. Seeing how people are addressing their own mixed-use components is something I’m excited about. We like to make sure that any retail we put into our building is not just good for the building but also the neighborhood, and we will bend over backwards to make sure they’re successful.
CAPRE: Where do you see the New Jersey multi-family arena headed next?
Reichart: Every time I’ve thought we’ve reached that critical mass, we’re still able to fill our apartments. There’s a lot of new inventory coming on the market, but we welcome that product. We’ve seen that rents are still very strong. The sales market has softened a bit, there seems to be a lot of inventory on that side of things. But the new residents we’re getting are fabulous – they’re from every walk of life, young and old.
CAPRE: What is the biggest challenge facing the New Jersey multi-family arena in this booming economy?
Reichart: My belief is that our biggest challenge facing Jersey City is the infrastructure, especially transportation. We’re certainly a fantastic alternative to Brooklyn and similar markets, as long as the PATH capacity can keep up with our growth. I know that the mayor has really strongly advocated to the Port Authority to step up their game, and that will be a challenge. So we all need to keep an eye on that. As much as people want to be here in Jersey City, if they can’t get to work in Manhattan, that will cause a problem for all of us.
CAPRE: Got it, thanks for your time John! We’ll see you in Jersey City.