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“Smart” Suburbia: Developers Seek to Reimagine New Jersey’s Post-Pandemic Landscape

WEINER LAWInsightsLand Use Law“Smart” Suburbia: Developers Seek to Reimagine New Jersey’s Post-Pandemic Landscape

Land Use Law Municipal Law Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Real Estate Development in NJ

In one year, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced huge changes in the way people live, work, educate and recreate. It’s also created a change in where people are choosing to call home.

According to a recent study by Rutgers and Rowan universities, a clear uptick in demand for suburban development in New Jersey. The pandemic led to an exodus from dense urban centers to the suburbs — but a different kind of suburban setting; one with a town center feel, where residents can walk or bike between homes, shops and offices.

Twenty years ago, suburban houses were significantly more expensive. That relationship is now flipped. Now, property is more valuable in the urban core up in the northeast than it is in the suburban areas. Many people want to move out of a house that is too large, but they want to stay in the same community. The mission for developers is to look for ways of adapting the existing communities to add different lifestyle choices and home groups into New Jersey’s suburban communities.

The trend is evidence that America’s most densely populated state is making better use of scarce land resources, and is creating more compact and vibrant urban centers on already-developed land. According to New Jersey Future (www.njfuture.org), a nonprofit that promotes suburban “smart growth,” most of the population increase in New Jersey will be in more compact, walkable places — a winning formula that will attract residents.

“If you build it, they will come.”

Changes to land-use regulations in New Jersey will vary because they are controlled at the local level, and each community’s zoning is different and complicated. But the big picture shows that the pandemic has accelerated the trend toward old-style malls, office parks, and big box stores. The opportunity for developers is in making better use of the land — by redeveloping it to make a suburban landscape with an urban feel.

While indicators reflect that New Jersey may be entering a new ‘post‐ suburban’ phase that reflects a stronger push towards smart growth and a focus on urban redevelopment, this shift in residential development is a marked departure from previous trends. Another “new normal” in a post-COVID world.

Weiner Law Group: helping our clients build a better tomorrow

The municipal law attorneys at Weiner Law Group are experts in legal matters regarding land use and real estate in New Jersey. We are at the forefront of the ever-changing laws and regulations of these dynamic industries and will work on your behalf to help bring your development plans to fruition. For more information, email us online or call 973-403-1100 to schedule an appointment.