Tag Archives: retail

March retail sales hit a snag…how will it affect Tenafly home sales

A New York Times article by the Associated Press titled…March Retail Sales Fell as Consumers Cut Back….states that retail sales declined a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent last month, after a 1 percent gain in February.

That’s big news for the Bergen County home sales, and in our specific case it’s big news for how this could affect future home sales in Tenafly, and luxury home sales in Alpine and Saddle River…because retail spending drives about 70% of economic activity.

When consumers begin to cut back on retail spending, it creates a ripple effect on home sales

An example of just how volatile the local housing market is are the home sales in Tenafly…in which more homes are sold in Tenafly per year compared to the surrounding towns by up to 500%.  This once stable heaven of home ownership, home sales are down 31% Y/Y compared to  2012

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“Consumers cut back spending across a wide range of categories”

With all the hoopla surrounding the calls announcing a housing recovery, people need to take a few steps back to analyze what is happening in their local markets, where its not always what it seems. Sure home sales are up in Bergen County…but that’s ONLY the case for homes priced below $1M. The higher you go above $1M the worse the market becomes, but that’s something realtors don’t like to talk about.



The US consumer looks a little less resilient, an economist at JP Morgan Chase

And why isn’t anyone focusing on other items that affect local home sales on the negative side.  Can we have a housing recovery regardless of facts:

  • Forever increasing property taxes in suburban New Jersey
  • A still unacceptable unemployment forecast…does anyone really think that we can have a real recovery with so many unemployed people. Inst this some of what brought us to a crash and are keeping us from an overall economic recovery?
  • New rental complexes are sprouting up in Bergen and Hudson counties. And every rental takes away from home sales
  • The decline of the suburbs and the rise of urban areas that are more conducive to today’s consumers
  • And incredible number of home sales and rentals in New York City, and increasing home prices are keeping people IN the city, rather than fleeing to the New Jersey and New York Suburbs

Let us know your thoughts on this


More retail for Nutley and Clifton?

Roche announced Tuesday that it plans to shut the 83-year-old location, which includes 2 million square feet of space on a 119-acre campus. The site once was home to 5,000 workers, but now contains only 1,000 employees and 1,000 contract or temporary workers. Roche said it plans to end operations by the end of 2013, clean up pollution on the site and sell it by the end of 2015

As per a past in northjersey.com…Retail development expected for much of 119 acres Roche is leaving. it seems as though the commercial real estate brokers have their mind made up as to what the 119 acres that Roche will be leaving behind will be used for…at least in their mind.

Can’t wait to see what actually happens many years from now, when the people who actually have to put up the money to purchase the property the plane it out and obtain all the necessary approvals to develop it come up with.

By then who knows what will happen with the economy, retail development, retail in general, and with the change in demographics.

The smartest comment on the matter comes from famed super-broker Andrew Merin of Cushman & Wakefield….

Real estate brokers said Nutley and Clifton would probably resist large-scale residential development on the site, because of the cost of providing services, especially schools, for a big influx of new residents. But Merin said multi-family development on at least some of the site would increase the tax base and provide needed housing.

“That’s how you attract young people back to these towns,” he said.

Retail and towns will die in suburbia if young people are forced to live elsewhere because of ta lack of affordable housing, and a lack of mass transportation…and all the other amenities that today’s buyers are looking for.

119 acres is a huge project, and an equally huge undertaking, and it would be a crime not to develop an all inclusive mixed use project as Hartz Mountain and Gene Heller has done in the past in many communities.  Mixed use projects are where it’s at for the future development of large scale projects.  Developers need to give back something of value to the communities they want to build in…and this is the way to do it.

And btw, by the time it takes to put a shovel in the ground, who knows what the state of retail will be. Will consumers need more places to shop for  items they can easily get online?

Fort Lee grappled with future development for 20 years. Revitalizing the area will now begin

I don’t understand the purpose of a recent post on northjersey.com titled….Fort Lee grapples with questions on future development.

Two projects…The Center at Fort Lee received approvals a few months ago, and Hudson Lights was just approved a few days ago…are a culmination of grappling with a problem for 20 years.

This article makes it as though this grappling is in its infant stage, when in fact it’s not.

The future plans for development in Fort Lee are finally in place, and the only question is, when will these projects be started and when will they be completed, so the community can start seeing the benefits from all the new traffic that will come into the area.

Hudson Lights get the go ahead from Ft Lee!

The Planning Board on Monday night unanimously approved plans for the western half of a mixed-use development, clearing the way for $1 billion in construction that supporters say will revitalize the borough’s struggling downtown

What could be so bad for Ft Lee to add $5.1 million to it’s tax base?

A lifestyle change for Fort Lee

Nothing but upside…except for some additional traffic (but traffic is actually a good thing for towns that welcome people into their community to shop, dine, work, and live).

The vote appeared to herald an end to decades of false starts and failed efforts to develop 16 acres south of the George Washington Bridge, bounded by Bruce Reynolds Boulevard, Central Road, Main Street and Lemoine Avenue

The reality is, in order to survive into the future, more suburban communities need to allow projects, such as Hudson Lights to be built, or they will continue to decline.

“I know we have a spectacular project – one that, when it is completed, we will all be proud to have,” Richard Tucker (developer) said.

Planned projects like this, is a good thing for a community.  A community can only improve when you take an antiquated area and modernize it for the future.  After a long 20 year process, Ft Lee will finally have a wonderful projects that brings it into the 21st century.

There’s really no downside to the Hudson Lights project which is about to be approved by the town. Hudson Lights will generate a larger financial, and more beneficial long term benefits to the town than the previous project that was recently approved (The Center at Ft Lee). Two residential towers do nothing for the community, but to add a stunning skycap and bring in additional taxes.  But, with the addition of a large retail center, this combination creates a dynamic lifestyle component that you can’t find in but a few locations.

After all the aggravation that is sure to happen during the construction process, Hudson lights and The Center at Ft Lee will be a welcome addition for the region.

Read the entire article here in northjersey.com…Fort Lee planning board ok’s western half of $1B downtown development

Fort Lee’s Hudson Lights can have huge positive impact for area retail

The creation of Hudson Lights and  The Center at Fort Lee are two very crucial projects to Fort Lee and to all of the surrounding communities

Business district near Hudson Lights

In a June 4th 2012 article on northjersey titled….Fort Lee development will improve “tired” downtown, mayor says…Ft Lee’s Mayor Sokolich stated that the special improvement district was created to clean up “a tired downtown” which would in turn help current shop owners in the town.

And he’s correct in his thinking.  However, a lot more needs to be done for this to be a success for store owners who have been in Ft Lee for years, or decades.

The problem facing Ft Lee’s downtown isn’t unlike the problems facing every downtown area in our region:

  • there’s tremendous competition from shopping centers,
  • competition from the internet where it’s easy to shop for deals…and for current merchandise,
  • a large percentage of downtown stores fail after a year or two because they don’t carry products that most people want
  • most downtown stores are poorly marketed, if they’re marketed at all
  • most stores carry outdated merchandise
  • most stores and their storefront windows are ugly and are uninviting to passersby

So to think that the creation of Hudson Lights and The Center at Fort Lee, will bring instant prosperity to shop owners is highly unlikely.  The developers  and the town are not responsible for making these businesses successful, so expensive overhead crosswalks aren’t the answer.  If these shop owners have something worthwhile to walk to, then people will cross the street to get there.

This doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.  But it rests solely on the shoulders of the owners themselves.

These two projects can’t make everyone successful, unless the store owners and landlords make that happen.

And here’s how it can happen:

  • If you carry merchandise or supply services that people want they will seek you out
  • store owners need to update their business models so they can compete and draw customers
  • update your storefronts so they look as appealing as a new modern store
  • learn to market yourselves on blogs, twitter, and through local newspapers
  • To an extent you’re going to have to compete on price, so you better do it
  • your merchandise has to be what people are looking for
  • create delivery services for whatever you sell, so it becomes easier for the apartment renters to buy your products
  • landlords have to update their buildings, because if they remain ugly and the current stores fail, then it’s going to be that much harder, or impossible to re-lease the space without offering steep discounts
  • create new signage that compete with the new projects
  • learn to draw from the traffic that the new retailers will be spending tons of money on to create

Unfortunately some of the existing stores will fail.  But if you look at their balance sheets at this time they’ve probably been on life support for years, and it was only a matter of pride why the plug wasn’t pulled years before.

These projects will bring in a tremendous amount of new traffic to this area, and retailers need to learn how to grab the attention of those people.  If you don’t know how to compete in a modern local economy, your business will fail.  And you will only have yourself to blame.

There are dozens of ways to compete and to increase your local business…retailers just need to step out of their comfort zone and learn how to create success, because it won’t happen by accident, or because of an increase in traffice.

In anticipation of a huge influx of new potential business, start your social media marketing now, and start updating your stores and merchandise.  The existing stores have an advantage over new stores, because these stores are already part of the community, so use that yo your advantage.

Play to compete.

Social media can be your key to success.

Let me know what you think.

Hudson Lights and twin towers project in Ft Lee are becoming a reality

The proposed Hudson Lights project and the already approved “yet to be named” twin towers: A view from space

The two new projects that will be started in Ft Lee this year offer some exciting opportunities for the surrounding communities. Yes it’s going to be a bit of a pain while the construction is taking place, but once everything is completed everyone (even in Tenafly) will benefit from this enhancement:

  • The eyesore that we’ve all lived with for 20+ years will now become an iconic looking project.  No one can deny that that this isn’t an amazing upgrade for Ft Lee and all of New Jersey
  • If they’re smart, and upgrade their businesses, the area retails will have an influx of people to fill their stores. And if they don’t take advantage of this opportunity, they have no one else to blame but themselves
  • The area restaurants will see a boom in their business…the delivery business should go wild.  And this isn’t just for Ft Lee…this is going to benefit the entire area
  • 1500+- new apartments will be filled with people (2000-3000 people?) from all over the region and these people will shop and dine here
  • New retail creates better existing retail…only if they have what people are looking for.  And now the retailers will have to compete with the new project, so it’s not going to be a guarantee.  They will have to work it if they want to be successful
  • New employment opportunities will exist.  This is a huge plus
  • Contrary to popular opinion…traffic patterns and timing should actually get better because of the proposed upgrades
  • The residential rental business will boom for everyone…not just for the new projects

There will defiantly be some bumps in the road (no pun intended) throughout the construction process, but that’s to be expected. Just get these projects underway and completed as soon as humanly possible, so we can all start enjoying the benefits.

Suburbia needs more projects like this.

Here are a few satellite shots of the area, via bing and google earth.  Now you’ll see why this is such a valuable location

Yes, I’ve developed a lot of real estate projects in my career, and I love seeing progress.  And why shouldn’t the suburbs start benefiting from what it has to offer.  Politics aside, these projects are needed for a multitude of reasons.  Whether or not the original developers make money or not, the community as a whole will benefit for decades to come.  And that’s what really matters here.

Tax revenue is big motivator for new Ft Lee mega projects

Developer wants ‘boulevard feel” at Ft Lee site

Article from northjersey.com

FORT LEE – An Illinois-based developer told the Planning Board on Monday night that it wants to create a “boulevard feel” on the western half of a $1 billion mixed-use project south of the George Washington Bridge, balancing the needs of motorists and pedestrians.

“If you build it, they will come,” said Charles Olivo, a traffic engineer hired by Tucker Development Corp., referring to pedestrian-friendly streetscapes. “If you don’t, they will use cars.”

Tucker Development Corp. is seeking final site plan approval to build Hudson Lights, which would feature 165,000 to 178,000 square feet of commercial space – for about 20 stores and three or four restaurants – as well as 477 residential units, a 175-room hotel and parking for more than 1,200 cars. It also has asked the Planning Board to grant a number of sign variances, which it says would help attract higher-end retailers.

If it is approved, the development would rise in the shadow of a pair of 47-story luxury residential high-rises — the tallest buildings in Bergen County — which the Planning Board approved in March. The towers are the centerpiece of the eastern half of the development, known as The Center at Fort Lee, which also will include a restaurant, a snack kiosk, a museum, a movie theater and a 1.75-acre park.

Tucker Development’s plans for the western half of the development also call for three traffic lights within approximately 600 feet of each other on Lemoine Avenue, one of the borough’s busiest thoroughfares. But members of the Planning Board said Monday that the lights would impede traffic flow and likely would be a bigger benefit to the developer than to the borough.

In response, Richard Tucker, president and chief executive officer of Tucker Development, said traffic mitigation plans would not be implemented if they are shown to not make sense.

“Absolutely, it is our intention to make sure that traffic flows,” said “At the end of the day, if it doesn’t work, it won’t be built.”

In addition to discussions about traffic flow, Olivo said the 1,245 parking spaces proposed within the development would be sufficient, accounting for the likelihood that shoppers would use the spaces during the day while hotel guests would seek parking at night.

“We’re simply overlaying and stacking parking requirements on top of each other,” Olivo said. “There would be adequate capacity during your peak hours.”

About 35 members of the public gathered Monday for the second of four public hearings to discuss plans for the western half of a $1 billion downtown mixed-use project.

The two projects make up a 16-acre zone south of the George Washington Bridge – bounded by Bruce Reynolds Boulevard, Center Avenue, Main Street and Lemoine Avenue – and are slated to be built over three years.

Supporters of the project, including Mayor Mark Sokolich, the Greater Fort Lee Chamber of Commerce and many local business owners, say they look forward to seeing Fort Lee’s downtown flourish once again and point to the millions in tax dollars that the project is anticipated to generate annually for the local and regional economy.

But many residents say the 47-story towers are an eyesore and a target for terrorists. They also worry that existing traffic and parking woes will only worsen.

A traffic study commissioned for Tucker found that the project would generate an estimated 560 to 1,200 car trips during the evening peak hour on weekdays and 800 to 1,540 trips during Saturday peak time. The lower ranges take into account the possibility that some residents and shoppers will use mass transit among other factors.

The meeting ended before members of the public could ask questions of the traffic engineer. The hearing will continue at 7:30 p.m. May 14 at the Jack Alter Community Center, 1355 Inwood Terrace.

Let us know what you think abut the project and the effects it will have on the town for traffic, and for the existing local businesses.

Hamrah’s will close it’s doors in Cresskill…after 55 years

Wow, a big blow was just delivered to shoppers in the Cresskill, Tenafly area…Hamrah’s is closing their doors after 55 years of unparalleled success in the local fashion market.

We wanted to go out on a high note…said Lilly Hamrah

In an era where the internet has wreaked havoc on retailers everywhere, Hamrah’s was the perfect example of what retailers must do in order to stay in business…they need to keep relevant with the times, listen to their customers and provide the merchandise they are looking for.  And, to be able to anticipate the next trend. And this is where most retailers fail.

The store opened in June 1957, and five months later Bergen Mall opened. It was touted as one of 10 “supermalls” being built around the country. “Until that time, everybody shopped in downtowns, the thriving downtowns of EnglewoodHackensackBergenfieldTeaneck. That was the way people shopped,” Lilli Hamrah-Corhan said. “When the malls opened up, we had to withstand this onslaught, this tsunami of stores. It was frightening.

Their 55 years of success is a testament to their skills and knowledge of an always  changing business of finicky buyers.  To stay in business for this long, you need to be doing something right.

We made a success of it. We built the store of our dreams,” Lilli said. “The bottom line is, we’re healthy. We have a business, but we’re choosing this time to close,” she said. “We’ve been in this 55 years. It’s been our whole life. We’re not a flash in the pan. We’re very proud of what we accomplished,” she said.

We wish the Hamrah family the best of luck!

Now the big question is, where will all of their customers shop to fill the void?

Read the entire article on northjersey.com