2 min read October 2021 — North Jersey is presenting various levels of activity depending on the submarket. Anthony Vita, president of Vita & Vita Realty, shares his insights into the market, how his company is retaining tenants in the office and shopping center space and the shifts in demand in the region.
How is your organization driving strong tenant retention and new tenant attraction across your portfolio?
Our company owns and operates a number of strip shopping centers, office and industrial properties in NJ and eight other states along the East Coast. We have additional investments in multi-family apartments, single family homes and land holdings. Our office manages over 1,000,000 square feet and another 1,000,000 square feet with affiliated offices. Regarding tenant retention, we strive to maintain strong relationships with our tenants. Know their names, visit their stores or offices, say hello and ask about their lives and businesses.
As far as new tenant attraction goes, in 2020-2021 we developed phase three of our four phase County Plaza in Randolph, developed The Corner Shoppes in Lincoln Park, renovated and backfilled a 110,000 square foot Kmart with Big Lots, Badcock Furniture and Crunch Fitness, acquired a bank parcel in Lincoln Park and opened a 69,000 square foot Giant Supermarket. Shoppers prefer shopping in a well maintained shopping center with a diverse tenant mix which helps attract new tenants as do office companies looking for a convenient location in a peaceful, safe setting making it enjoyable for their employees and customers to visit.
What significant, ongoing projects in North Jersey would you like to highlight?
We’re installing solar panels on a roof of one of our Fairfield projects. It’s our first venture into solar, and it’s going well. The solar policies that are presently available provide financial incentives to invest in the technology, in addition to the merits of developing and generating green energy. In our case, we made the decision to own the solar project instead of leasing it to a third party developer.
I mentioned earlier about Lincoln Park located in Morris County. It’s been a pretty hot community with several large multi-family projects under various stages of development, and we have plans of developing our third shopping center there called Lincoln Square. Our second center, The Corner Shoppes, was 86% pre-leased prior to completion. Because of the pandemic, we were in the middle of developing three projects when we were compelled to shut down by mandate and restart four months later. All of those projects are up and running and doing very well. We are very excited about those results.
Where have you seen the demand shift in North Jersey?
The growth is concentrated around residential, multi-family apartments, and industrial projects. We are not seeing many new shopping centers developed in North Jersey. It’s the same for office buildings. One of the good things about North Jersey being pretty much developed is that it makes it difficult for new shopping centers to enter and disrupt your existing project. Retail is fairly stable except for mall struggles and several large chain anchor bankruptcies. This has provided opportunities for new retailers to enter the market.
Although there is significant e-commerce activity, it’s not putting service oriented and neighborhood shopping centers out of business. North Jersey is really quite stable. The majority of our centers are leased to essential retailers, service shops and restaurants. Lucky for us our restaurants have drive up windows or outdoor seating. Fortunately for some of our older centers, the towns where we are located gave the green light to permit outdoor seating, thus saving businesses during this pandemic when the law prohibited indoor eating and limited occupants.
What are your objectives for the near future?
As far as our company’s near term objectives go, we plan to complete the development of Lincoln Square in Lincoln Park. We’re about to sell one of our centers and plan to reinvest in another commercial property in our trade areas. We are fortunate to have a number of long term tenants who look to grow with us and help fill the need for us to acquire other projects. We’re working on a large industrial assignment now in Northern New Jersey. Vita & Vita Realty Corp is well positioned to continue its growth in the industry.
For more information, visit: http://vitarealty.com/