NAIOP New Jersey “Dinosaurs to Diamonds” Student Challenge
Tomorrow’s commercial real estate leaders provided a glimpse of their vision for the state’s redevelopment as NAIOP New Jersey presented its first annual “Dinosaurs to Diamonds” Student Challenge. The commercial real estate development association announced the winner of the competition during its March 24 chapter meeting, conducted at the Pines Manor in Edison.
The meeting provided a forum for the challenges of finding new uses for the state’s outdated and underutilized suburban office spaces. Keynote remarks from Mayor John McCormac of Woodbridge and Mayor Wilda Diaz of Perth Amboy highlighted recent successes and future opportunities for partnering with commercial real estate professionals to create the live/work/play environments that attract and retain employers and the young talent they need. McCormac and Diaz served as judges for the student design competition, which was sponsored by SJP Properties.
Three teams of graduate students accepted the challenge to re-imagine an existing suburban office space, located near the Metropark Station in Woodbridge Township, to realize its full economic potential in today’s market.
The winning team of Mark Bauer, Newcome Edwards and Arturo Hernandez-Sangregorio from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University presented a mixed-use development that addressed environmental concerns and traffic flow issues, while simultaneously incorporating sustainable technologies and green space. Gibbons presented the $5,000 prize to the winners.
The runners-up were Matthew Knight and Michael Martone from the Bloustein School, and Adam Haese and Bill Simcox from Monmouth University.
“When we considered the challenge of turning real estate dinosaurs into diamonds, it made sense to turn to the generations that will work, live and play in these environments,” said NAIOP NJ CEO Michael McGuinness in a prepared statement. “Our goal was to engage municipal and development leaders in a productive conversation with the leaders of tomorrow.”
Diaz noted that serving as a judge was a “refreshing experience. Looking at the plans and seeing how creative and well thought out they are, I have no doubt New Jersey will be a better place because of these students.”