Elaine Clisham

Redevelopment Forum: A Cost-Effective Investment

This article was provided by Valerie Jackson, director of economic development for the City of Plainfield.

Just some of the 19 people from the City of Plainfield who attended the Redevelopment Forum.

New Jersey Future’s Redevelopment Forum provided a cost-effective opportunity for elected officials and residents serving on the City of Plainfield Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment to get further education and training on redevelopment trends, best practices, and new tools. This year the city sent 19 people to the Redevelopment Forum, including Mayor Adrian O. Mapp, who was also a speaker, several City Council members, staff from multiple departments, and members of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment. The insight gained at the forum has not only facilitated the adoption of designations of areas in need of redevelopment and of redevelopment plans, and approval of site plans but has also helped staff to understand their role in the redevelopment process.

“It is so exciting to hear Planning Board members explain the importance of redevelopment to the public based on knowledge gained at the workshops,” said Director of Economic Development Valerie Jackson, who attended the Forum. “Some of the biggest advocates for redevelopment are residents. They are partners in helping to shape robust redevelopment plans that meet the current and future needs of the city.”

Mayor Mapp said at his recent State of the City address that together “we are creating a smarter, safer and stronger city.” Each member of the city that has a leadership role, whether elected, staff or volunteer, must be well informed in order to be able to do this, he said. “The City of Plainfield is committed to making the required investment in all of its resources to drive investment in the city. Plainfield is in a renaissance period, which is the result of each team member working hard, contributing, and sharing ideas and resources to move the city forward.”

We hope other municipalities will join the city in sending delegations to next year’s Redevelopment Forum, so we can all become better informed, exchange ideas and network with other towns.

Leadership, Engagement, Change: The Keys to Place-Led Redevelopment

Businesses and workers are changing the kinds of demands that are put on a place. The public sector still needs to catch up.

Plenary panelists, L to R: Jennifer Vey, Aisha Glover, Andre Sayegh, Eugene Diaz and Tim Sullivan

Leadership, engagement, change: These were the themes that speakers at the Redevelopment Forum plenary session on Making Every Place a Great Place To Live and Work emphasized as critical to successful redevelopment in the face of shifting economic trends.

Jennifer Vey, the director of Brookings Institution’s newly established Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking, set the stage with some historical context (view her presentation here) and a look at how recent technology and economic shifts — desire for professional collaboration, demand for easy access to amenities, potential for remote work — are changing the demands that are put on a place.

Photos, Presentations and Summaries!

Our thanks to all the speakers, sponsors and attendees who helped make Redevelopment Forum 2019 such a success!

If you’re looking for session presentations, you can find links to them from the respective session pages (click on a session title from the Agenda page), or find them all together on our SlideShare channel.

If you’re looking for photographs, you’ll find them either on our Facebook page or our flickr channel; please feel free to tag yourself!

And if you’re looking for session summaries, just scroll down, or find them linked from the appropriate session page.

Save the date! Redevelopment Forum 2020 is Friday, March 6. See you there!

Finding the Opportunities in Opportunity Zones

This summary was written by Jeffrey Stoller. Mr. Stoller is president of BJS Communications in Moorestown, N.J.

Lillian Plata, Esq. of Nee Plata Law and Eduardo Rodriguez from the City of Elizabeth discuss Opportunity Zones.

Since enactment of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a broad range of developers, public officials, and community leaders have viewed the law’s Opportunity Zone (OZ) designations as a powerful tool for bringing new housing and business activity to low income areas nationwide.

The OZ program seeks to channel significant amounts of investor capital gains income into local development projects, in exchange for reduced or eliminated capital gains taxes. At first glance, there’s something in it for everyone: new amenities and jobs for distressed neighborhoods; more tax revenues for municipalities; a significant infusion of cash for developers; and reduced or waived capital gain taxes for long-term investors.

Building the Infrastructure New Jersey Needs

This summary was written by Jeffrey Stoller. Mr. Stoller is president of BJS Communications in Moorestown, N.J.

Jeanne Fox of Columbia University

For many years, New Jersey’s transportation, energy and water infrastructure has not kept pace with the urgent demands of its 21st century industries and population.  Clearly, a major challenge for the state will be how to generate new funding for critical infrastructure upgrades when it is already facing large-scale fiscal problems.

Density Doesn’t Have To Look Dense

This summary was written by former New Jersey Future intern Tristan Harrison.

Missing-middle housing types. Graphic courtesy of Opticos Design. Click for a larger view.

Building appropriate housing densities in places with little buildable land has long been a difficult task for planners and developers.  At this year’s Redevelopment Forum, a diverse panel explored ways to accommodate the need for new housing without jeopardizing other community priorities.

Todd Poole, president of 4Ward Planning, noted that the need for moderate housing densities in New Jersey’s walkable, urban neighborhoods has become increasingly apparent in recent decades as the rate of cost-burdened households has grown alongside the price of the average home. At the same time, he said, a significant underproduction of new and diverse housing types has oversaturated the state with single-family homes. In order to provide a more sustainable and equitable housing landscape, he continued, the state could consider policies that encourage development of moderate housing densities that are more cost-effective and space-efficient.