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An unlikely real estate success story amid the pandemic | Jordan on Business

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(Editor’s note: Jordan on Business is a new weekly column focusing on business, development and workplace issues in New Jersey.)

As soon as COVID turned the economy upside down, struggling office tenants started putting commercial real estate owners under severe stress. They wanted to renegotiate leases, downsize or even opt out of leases. As a result, many landlords now face rent shortfalls and lenders suddenly have been exposed. The vicious cycle has roiled the industry, hitting hotels, malls and retail spaces hardest.

The bad times again have proven that timing and circumstances are everything in the commercial real estate business. They can mean the difference between winning or landing in bankruptcy court.

Prism Capital Partners is arguably one of New Jersey’s big winners of the past year, building on a timely gamble four years ago when it purchased the former Hoffman-LaRoche headquarters on 116 acres off Route 3 in Nutley and Clifton. In its heyday, the Swiss pharmaceutical company had 10,000 employees on campus.

Prism renamed the property ON3 and started marketing the sprawling site to science-industry users, leasing the entire 1.45 million square feet of existing and under construction laboratories and office space to big-name tenants. Today’s lineup is impressive: Quest Diagnostics; the Japanese drug maker Eisai Co.; Hackensack-Meridian School of Medicine; Seton Hall University; the biotech Modern Meadow; and Ralph Lauren. Prism says as many as 6,700 workers will be based there by the end of the year, and most tenants are life science companies that have survived the pandemic.

Leaders at Prism want to take ON3 to the next level, expand it into a 24/7 village of luxury apartments, hotels, retailers and restaurants within walking distance of the offices and laboratories. This is just the sort of development the state and its municipalities need at a moment of rising office vacancies and falling tax collections that threaten everyone.

But officials in Nutley are publicly feuding with the developer and neighboring Clifton over traffic concerns. Nutley wants to pump the brakes on ON3 and installed a barrier to block traffic from the Clifton side of ON3. Clifton and the developer have filed a lawsuit.

Concerns about traffic congestion and future school spending are archetypal objections to growth, and they are emblematic of the patchwork of local control over development in New Jersey.

“Everybody cries about the impact on their schools and they cry about the impact on their traffic. Those are the two big issues,” said Eugene R. Diaz, a Prism principal partner. “Everyone comes out waving their flags and throwing their pitch forks out there. They just don’t get it.”

ON3 generates a king’s ransom in tax revenue for Clifton, which has 56 percent of the ON3 land in its borders, while Nutley is home to the rest. Route 3 was a dirt road when Hoffman-LaRoche made the site its American headquarters in 1929. The plant was shut in 2012 and sold to Prism four years ago.

Diaz said for too long, parochial local zoning and planning boards have stifled high-density development that would make the state more competitive – and livable.

“People want to be able to walk to work. They want things close,” Diaz said. “You build greater density and you have lower peak-hour impact. You have fewer cars on the road because at lunch people walk to their apartments or stay after work for drinks or dinner.”

Critics successfully have embraced traffic and school spending as tools to muffle developments over the years in Morristown, Woodbridge and the Meadowlands. In fact, those are the core anti-development complaints in just about all 565 New Jersey municipalities.

As a result, New Jersey has been slow to embrace “new urbanism,” the high-density, mixed-use developments that are the rage among millennials in other parts of the country. These transit villages of shiny corporate offices surrounded by trendy retail and low-rise luxury apartments are common along commuter rail lines in the Maryland and Northern Virginia suburbs that ring Washington, D.C.

Officials in Clifton, Nutley and Prism have taken out the long knives.

“While Clifton would see most of the tax benefits of the development, Nutley would receive a disproportionate share of the traffic,” Nutley Mayor Mauro G. Tucci said in an open letter to taxpayers. “The new vehicle traffic would place a significant burden on Nutley.”

Diaz fears the potential of ON3 could go the way of MetroPark. Built in the early 1980s, it includes several offices, parking garages and a single hotel at a New Jersey Transit and Amtrak rail station. The Woodbridge Planning Board would not approve housing or other significant retail venues. As a result, MetroPark’s expansion stalled.

Compare that to Reston, Virginia, which is the same size as Woodbridge and also launched a redevelopment in the 1980s. Reston’s included a large number of apartments and condominiums, retail outlets and restaurants that transformed the town, founded in 1964, into a thriving destination in high demand today.

Similarly, Morristown’s downtown office market experienced increased demand after the city eased its opposition to apartments and condominiums. Office rents there today average $40 a square foot, which is 25 percent higher than the Northern New Jersey average, according to a new Newmark Knight Frank market research report.

Deloitte, the accounting firm, recently leased 110,000 square feet at M Station, a new commuter rail development on Morris Street.

“New Jersey is in global competition for businesses, talent and where people live. The state’s got great benefits, but a lot of negatives,” Diaz said. “It needs significant benefits to overcome.”

George E. Jordan writes a weekly column on business and development in New Jersey. He may be reached at george@griotmediaworks.com.

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Cedar Valley Hy-Vee locations offer Black-Owned Business products

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) – Friday was a proud day for some Black-Owned Businesses after seeing their products on the shelves of Hy-Vee for the first time.

Hy-Vee District Manager Vice-President Dale Mitchell, says this is just the beginning.

“We really felt that the Waterloo market is an area where we can really make a difference. The help and support from these four ladies show that we are doing great things and there’s more things to come,” Mitchell said.

All business owners currently sell their products on their own websites, but Hy-Vee is the only retailer to offer the products in stores.

“Honestly it feels a little bit surreal for me. I wish my grandparents would’ve been able to see this moment,” Black Entrepreneur Nia Wilder said.

Wilder owns the business, ShinDigg and is supplying Hy-Vee stores with Be Light apparel. The apparel focuses on bringing positivity to oneself.

Wilder and the other business owners went through a small-business program with University of Northern Iowa last spring of 2020. The program led them to a seat at the table with Hy-Vee.

“They fell in love with the idea, and our brands. They gave us the opportunity to expand in our community by putting our brand all over the local Hy-Vee stores, it’s been awesome,” Wilder said.

Wilder says she’s been offered to showcase her products and brand in other stores, but says she wasn’t ready. Wilder says she made sure she was “ready” when Hy-Vee came knocking.

“I just wasn’t ready for that moment, however when Hy-Vee contacted me I made sure that I was ready. Hy-Vee is my grandparents’ favorite store and if I had to pick anywhere to go first I definitely have to go with Hy-Vee,” Wilder said.

Hy-Vee says they plan to speak with other store locations throughout Iowa to implement more minority owned business products.

Black-Owned Businesses in Hy-Vee:

The products will be sold permanently in Hy-Vee locations, and on the Hy-Vee Aisles online grocery shopping.

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Owner of Brevard dog grooming business cited for inhumane treatment of animals

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MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – A Brevard County dog grooming business is still in operation months after its owner was ordered to cease operation by the Florida Department of Health.

According to documents obtained by News 6, Kelly Jo Strabley’s animal care business license was taken away on Sept. 30, 2019, after a dog was severely injured while being groomed.

[TRENDING: All Florida Publix locations now offer vaccine | John Morgan settles beef with Arby’s | Last chance to go to space]

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“He was family,” Rebecca Netcher said. “We always said he was a human in a dog suit.”

Rebecca Netcher and her husband Morris Netcher said they brought their 6-year-old goldendoodle Lochlan to Paws and Claws in April 2019 for routine grooming.

They said they waited 10 hours for the call that Lochlan was ready to be picked up.

Brevard County Animal Services cited the then-owner of a dog groomer for inhumane treatment of animals after Lochlan, a Goldendoodle, was severely injured, and the owner failed to seek medical treatment. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.)

“She brought him out, and he had a towel around his neck, and he had been cut in numerous locations — around seven,” Rebecca Netcher said. “I mean, big gashes. It was so bad.”

“As soon as the surgeon saw how badly he was cut, they took him right back, and he went immediately into surgery,” said Morris Netcher.

Brevard County Animal Services launched an investigation and determined Strabley did not seek medical treatment for Lochlan after he was injured.

In 2016, a Brevard County couple claimed their dog was mauled to death at Strabley’s business.

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In 2017, court records showed she accepted a plea bargain after she was cited for leaving a dog in the sun for too long.

This time, a judge convicted her of inhumane treatment of an animal.

As a result of that infraction, she now appears on Brevard County’s Animal Abuse Database.

The Florida Department of Health in Brevard County also revoked her animal care business license and ordered her to cease operation within 24 hours.

FDOH Assistant Director Anita Stremmel said the business is still in operation, however, because it has a new license.

“The license wasn’t submitted under Ms. Strabley’s name. It was under an employee’s name, and the business is now in their employee’s name,” she said.

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Stremmel said the license has not been approved yet, but the business can operate while it’s being reviewed.

Strabley is still allowed to work with animals, Stremmel said, but she is not allowed to own the animal-related business.

According to Brevard County court records, Strabley still owes $1,365 in court fines from Lochlan’s case and other cases that date back to 2017.

Court workers confirm all of those fines have been sent to a collections agency.

News 6 attempted to ask Strabley about the case involving Lochlan and the outstanding fines, but she declined comment.

The Better Business Bureau urges pet owners to do their homework when choosing a groomer:

  • Check the groomer’s credentials, their online reviews, both good and bad, and if they have formal complaints filed against them. You should look for a certificate, find out the type of training groomers have had and see how long they have been in the profession.

  • Stay and watch the grooming process. Most facilities have an observation window or area where owners can watch the groomer at work. The BBB encourages pet owners to do so if they don’t have to rush out after dropping off their pet.

  • See what kind of dryer and equipment the groomer uses. Most dogs enjoy being bathed, so it’s the drying part that usually causes the most issues.

  • Communicate clearly with the groomer. Some dogs with pushed-in faces, like boxers and pugs, might never acclimate to the force dryers because of natural breathing issues, which need to be clearly discussed with the groomer.

Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.

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Bars, funeral homes, gyms among 330 Michigan businesses to get money for outdoor spaces

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Whether it was to support local a business or just a desire to get out of the house, this was the winter of outdoor dining.

But restaurants weren’t the only businesses to move outdoors this winter in Michigan, as $3 million in state grants helped a variety of businesses create outdoor spaces.

The Small Business Association of Michigan helped hand out the 330 grants, which ranged from $1,000 to $10,000. Restaurants and bars took the majority of the grants.

But a variety of other types of businesses also received money – including gyms, funeral homes, retail shops, a bowling center, banquet centers, funeral homes, museums, food banks, cider mills, nature centers, theater companies and more.

See the full list of recipients, below.

Hiit Fitness and Bootcamp in Lansing was one of the gyms to earn a grant. The business put up a large tent in the parking lot in December, lined the pavement with rubber mats and put a heater inside, said trainer Joey Santiago.

“I thought it was going to be a joke, at first,” Santiago said. “But I have to admit, it was a pretty slick idea.”

Gyms are limited to 25% capacity, so the extra outdoor space is key to accommodate clients, Santiago said. The tent has enough space for six people to work out inside, he said.

Santiago uses the space for private sessions when the main building is being used for classes. Gym-goers have given positive feedback on the new space, and Santiago said Hiit Fitness may consider keeping the tent up post-COVID.

“It’s almost like it opens up another facility for us,” Santiago said.

For restaurants and bars, outdoor dining igloos have become popular in recent years before the pandemic hit. This winter, businesses were scrambling for any type of outdoor dining area they could create, since indoor dining was banned from Nov. 18 through Jan. 31.

Even more challenging – outdoor spaces with walls were also prohibited in Michigan, unless the space was just for one small group dining together.

RELATED: Michigan’s Best Outdoor Dining: See winners from across the state

The winterization grant was used at Three Blondes Brewing to create outdoor dining spaces in four domes, a carport and a greenhouse, according to the SBAM website. The money was also used to buy electric heaters, propane for the fire pits, ultraviolet light sanitizing foggers and 1,400 pounds of sand to anchor everything down.

Outdoor opportunities were “a lifeline” for small businesses trying to survive the pandemic this winter, said SBAM President Brian Calley.

The funding was given on a first-come, first-served basis after it was announced in November. The grants reimburse spending between Aug. 1 and Dec. 30 for anything related to creating temporary outdoor spaces for customers.

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