2 min read October 2021 — Mountain Development Corp is a full-service real estate company with more than 40 years of experience developing, acquiring, building, repositioning, managing, leasing and financing commercial property. In an interview with Invest:, President Michael Seeve discussed growth during the pandemic, shifts in office and retail spaces, entitlement and opportunities for the New Jersey market.
What strategies did your company use to continue to grow in the current environment?
We grow primarily by acquisition so the disruptions in the market have presented opportunities. Over the past year, we’ve been presented with exciting openings to acquire assets which might otherwise never have come to market. We certainly recognize how integral technology has become to the way people use their office, retail and industrial spaces. We’ve put a great deal of emphasis on making sure end user experience in our buildings is productive and impactful.
How is retail behaving in the New Jersey market?
We’ve seen certain kinds of retailers do really well in the current environment, especially those providing services and with a connection to their customers. With remote and hybrid work, there are more people at home during the day than ever before and retail locations that provide food and services, such as the gyms, salons, petcare, healthcare, educational facilities, and other essential resources that are community oriented will likely continue to thrive. Many retailers, including restaurants which have incorporated delivery services, have found the right formula for this environment and are going to continue to excel.
What are some important aspects the office segment should consider in the post-pandemic environment?
Many employees are still working under a hybrid schedule, which means they’re going to be splitting their time between working from home or a remote location and at the office. Accordingly, the time spent at the office is key, and it should be meaningful and impactful. The configuration and design of an office is especially important, as it can set the tone for energy, creativity and inspiration. More than ever, going to the office should feel special and be something everyone looks forward to. To achieve this, we need to focus on the space and the branding.
What are some of the things that tenants are looking for in office spaces?
Branding is a big one for tenants of any size. They’re putting themselves in the shoes of their employees and visitors and they want to enhance the experience by considering how every part of the experience in their building makes them feel. To achieve an optimal experience that is memorable, feels special and promotes productivity, everything, from the parking lot all the way into the workplace, must be significant, including signage, colors, treatments and finishes.
What are some of the major post-pandemic changes in the New Jersey landscape?
New Jersey is home to a singularly large population of talented people with significant educational and professional achievements. As more of those professionals, with outstanding skill sets, spend more time in our local New Jersey communities, it creates opportunity for business connections, capital investment and just time spent in myriad value-add endeavors which can give rise to any number of opportunities. Post-pandemic, the more New Jersey can retain it’s talented residents during the day, the more we can expect to see exciting new business and business combinations which can grow our economy and expand the reach and breadth of our industries.
What are the benefits of changing land use to tackle land scarcity?
The entitlement business has always been a great value creator. The value of land is measured depending on its permitted use, so when entitlements are expanded, it can be very accretive. Setting aside any specific parcel of land, in terms of the business environment, the impact can be very powerful when employed the right way. Adding housing, jobs and retail to communities with the infrastructure to handle growth is one of the best ways for the state to grow its tax base, expand employment and create robust communities full of people and services.
What are some opportunities that you see for New Jersey?
We have some experience developing data centers in New Jersey. Our proximity to some of the major financial markets makes the State a very strategic choice to situate these types of properties, since it’s important to have geographic diversity, but still be close enough to be closely maintained and managed. Given the ever increasing reliance on electronic record keeping, video transmission and cloud based storage, this seems like a good time for the state to support more of these types of developments..
What are some of the legislations and regulations that you are paying attention to?
There is a discussion in the state today about various ways in which the plan and building review process can be accelerated. Given the pace at which business moves and with which business decisions are made, especially in leading industries such as technology and life sciences, it is essential that the building industry be able keep up and make sure that it can deliver contemporary spaces at a commensurate schedule. Otherwise, the state will lose out on those, sometimes transformational, opportunities.
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