realestate

Hanover’s River Park Town Center to Transform 88 Acres into Municipality’s First Walkable Downtown District

Hanover’s River Park Town Center to Transform 88 Acres into Municipality’s First Walkable Downtown District 789 444 DMR Architects

Construction has begun on the first phase to transform 88 acres in the Whippany area of Hanover Township into the DMR Architects-designed River Park Town Center, a downtown destination featuring 967 residential units, 80,000 SF of retail, two 125-room extended stay hotels, an outdoor amphitheater, and the completion of the Patriot Trail along the Whippany River. The first phase includes the construction of building one of eleven, and will offer 81 residential units, a pool, a fitness center and community amenities.

DMR’s plans for the first town center in Hanover Township’s 220+ year history will completely transform the way that people and businesses interface with the area that is currently largely populated by corporate office campuses.

“The creative challenge in Hanover was to design something that served a lot of functions that are completely new here while still preserving the community character and existing physical and natural landscaping,” said Francis Reiner, Redevelopment Consultant and Partner for DMR Architects.  “This is a great example of pro-active municipal planning and placemaking and the successful collaboration of a municipality, developer, planners and architects. This project will promote smart growth with elements that will appeal to residents, shoppers, employers and their staffs.”

When completed, River Park Town Center will also feature more than 20 acres of public recreation space including an amphitheater and park, generous convocation areas for community engagement, and deck, curbside and surface lot parking options. More than 40% of the land will be left in its natural state.

Real Estate NJ’s 2021 Market Forecast

Real Estate NJ’s 2021 Market Forecast 2000 1125 DMR Architects

(Excerpt)

After a year like no other, New Jersey’s commercial real estate industry is eager to turn the page. But many believe the pandemic’s impact will be felt for months if not years to come.

As always, we’re here to help you make sense of it all with the help of some top developers, service providers and thought leaders. You can find their predictions for the year ahead and more in our special 2021 Market Forecast.

Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA, President and CEO

The migration that started before the pandemic will continue through 2021 with renters willing to trade the conveniences of living in Manhattan for the lifestyle, sense of community and luxury amenities packages they can enjoy in urban and suburban markets throughout North Jersey. A tight for-sale market that has driven housing prices up, along with the desire for maintenance-free living, could also speed up the timeframe for empty-nesters looking to downsize. These and other demographics are looking for things like private outdoor add-ons like outdoor cooking and dining, pools and interesting rooftop terraces along with well-appointed apartment homes that have flexible spaces for multiple uses and ample storage, but at a reasonable price point. We’re currently designing rental communities in Woodbridge, Morristown, Edgewater, New Brunswick and Jersey City to fulfill these lifestyle needs while also being near NJ Transit and all of New Jersey’s major road arteries.

(201) 288-2600
lloyd@dmrarchitects.com
777 Terrace Ave., Suite 607
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604

 

This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in RE-NJ

Real estate predictions 2021

Real estate predictions 2021 2000 1125 DMR Architects

(Excerpt)

The COVID-19 pandemic has crushed some aspects of commercial real estate while lifted others up. Its impact is too great — and still too uncertain — to pass judgment just yet.

So, we asked a number of influencers in commercial real estate to look into the future and predict its impact on commercial real estate in 2021.

Here are their thoughts:

Lloyd Rosenberg, CEO, DMR Architects

The ubiquitous open floor plan can easily adapt for social distancing with new workstation and benching layouts, and by incorporating software to control maximum occupancy loads. Building owners and employers can also improve ventilation by installing UV lighting or Bi-Polar Ionization air purification in their HVAC systems, and we anticipate outdoor areas playing a bigger role in our designs to encourage higher use. We’ll see more touchless technology like heat scanners at building entryways and automatic interior door openers. We also anticipate clients looking for ways to decrease the need for employees to come back and forth throughout the day, with flexible spaces so that they can offer employees meals, fitness and communication options.

This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in ROI-NJ

Making Work From Home…Work

Making Work From Home…Work 960 540 DMR Architects

by Kurt Vierheilig, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Director of Design/Partner

Maybe at first it was your kitchen counter. Or your living room with the TV on mute. Or even your bedroom using your bookcase as background for a Zoom Meeting. This is the new normal – working from home during the COVID Pandemic.

Another COVID wave is here. We’re still working from home, still on Zoom calls, still attempting to find the quietest corner of the home to grind out the latest project. After more than eight months – DMR Architects is learning how to adapt. Not only how to modify your current space – but how to plan and build for a future where your home IS your workplace.

It’s a difficult task. Half of the developers DMR works with expect a return to normal. The other half are planning for a future where we work from home permanently. Either way you look at it, even before 2020—through technology—our workplaces have been folding into our everyday lives; the pandemic was the tipping point that pushed us to where we are today.

As a multi-family apartment designer – DMR Architects is all about flexibility. The big issue everyone has is separating your personal and professional space. For a one-bedroom apartment it is usually a single person or a couple. In these circumstances, distractions can usually be mitigated. For a two bedroom or more, it can be more challenging but that doesn’t mean there aren’t options.

With two bedrooms it probably means there is a child in the home. But that also means you still have two rooms and that gives you the ability to have a little more separation. Build out a nook for your work area. If you do have extra space,  designate a desk for working or home schooling.

In new concepts, DMR has been incorporating a nook in the living space, reconfiguring the floor plan and creating an indented area where you can have a desk, shelf, and space for multiple computer monitors. Incorporating that into the floor plan essentially adds an additional space inside either a one- or two-bedroom apartment.

In the past DMR has incorporated dens into many of our designs. Traditionally those dens are located near the rear of the unit and not optimal for working from home while co-existing with your family. DMR is exploring the possibility of orienting the door differently to let the natural light filter into that space. In some designs DMR is looking at giving priority to the den and moving it towards the front of the unit, allowing for more light since it would be up against the exterior wall. While these concepts are still evolving and DMR is gauging developer feedback, it is a direct response to the demand of a working environment inside a dwelling unit.

That being said, there are other ways to modify your current space to work from home and maintain the public/private aspects of this new normal. You can screen off your work area with bifold or pocket-style doors. This provides the availability of natural light when you’re not working (remember getting your daily exposure to natural light is equally beneficial to how much sleep you get) but also allows you to gain privacy when you’re focused on a work project or on a conference call with colleagues.

One of the more interesting developments that is being discussed is the use of technology – specifically touch-free technology. Apps to call elevators, apps to open doors, automated entrances into the lobby of the buildings, and even hologram interfaces to minimize contact points. Even with best sanitization procedures, residents want the least amount of touch points as possible, especially because these are multifamily dwellings with lots of people coming and going.  The great thing is that this technology already exists, it just needs to be incorporated into the current infrastructure.

DMR is focusing on this new work environment with the emphasis on the improvement on your everyday health, wellbeing, and overall work/life balance. Often a building might be designed with minimum sized windows for light and ventilation according to building codes. At DMR we are exploring how we can maximize that exterior wall to bring in as much light as possible. Along with that – the use of balconies. These balconies become the outdoor space, and in a multi-family project – especially for people under quarantine – we are seeing a resurgence in these spaces along with ground level units with larger patios.

DMR knows that these things contribute to tenants’ wellness with work at home situations becoming the standard. That five-foot by eight-foot piece of real estate outside, access to natural light and flexible spaces all a huge difference in a person’s life – and that’s what our mission is. Making your life better.

Institutional Construction Concerns

Institutional Construction Concerns 960 540 DMR Architects

How builders are delivering social distancing solutions in a surprisingly busy institutional real estate market. 

BY MEG FRY, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

With COVID-19 being more of a threat to spread indoors, one might consider the effect the pandemic has had on institutional construction, or the creation of buildings for the masses, such as schools, government buildings, healthcare facilities, and more. 

However, the market is surprisingly meeting its yearly projections. 

“Outside of the blips in March and April, projects that already were ongoing have progressed normally,” says Christopher Cornick, director of business development in New Jersey for Gilbane Building Co., one of the largest family-owned construction and real estate development firms in the industry. 

In fact, some firms are busier than ever. Take DMR Architects, a top architectural and professional planning firm in Hasbrouck Heights that is still growing in both revenue and employees this year. 

“We have about $1 billion in the pipeline of projects in design or under construction and that hasn’t really changed,” Lloyd Rosenberg, president and CEO of DMR Architects, says. “For example, we have half a dozen schools under construction, including in Carteret, Paterson and Plainfield, and we’re planning a new school in New Brunswick. Additionally, the amount of work being planned is remarkably good.” 

Construction of essential facilities, such as those in healthcare, also help balance slower paces of development in other sectors, says John White Jr., regional chief operating officer at Structure Tone, a global construction management and general contracting firm with offices in Woodbridge. 

“Healthcare was booming before the COVID-19 crisis and is still the most active,” White says. “Before COVID-19, we had worked with Atlantic Health System on more than 60 projects – then, throughout the most intense days of the pandemic, we worked on several emergency response projects while also continuing on some projects that already were set in motion.” 

Urgent projects included installing more than 100 temporary negative air systems into existing windows to add to hospitals’ capacities to treat COVID-19 patients, White adds. 

Meanwhile, Turner Construction, an international construction services company with offices in Somerset, was busy constructing a new field hospital, adding nearly 4,000 beds for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Stony Brook University in response to COVID-19. 

“We also saw very little slowdown in the work we did in New Jersey, thanks in part to all of our precautions,” says Mark Romanski, vice president and general manager at Turner Construction. 

In an industry already familiar and comfortable with safety protocols and personal protective equipment, the added measures of masks, gloves, temperature screenings, and disinfectants were not a shock to the system. 

“However, this situation did force project teams to become more comfortable with virtual collaboration, which allowed us to move projects forward even during the shutdown,” White says. “For example, we used virtual walk-through tools to capture progress on-site for our clients and design partners, who often were not physically coming to the site.” 

Cornick said his team also applied existing cutting-edge technology to encourage and enhance safety measures against COVID-19. 

“We’ve studied – and have discussed with our clients and design partners – what buildings will look like post-pandemic, and there are certainly things people are planning for today, particularly in regard to air filtration and HVAC systems, that COVID-19 has pushed further along,” Romanski says. “Additionally, and particularly in healthcare, clients are asking if there are things they can do for a bit more money that would give them more adaptability and flexibility to make adjustments in the event of a future pandemic, without needing to start from scratch or make any major structural changes.” 

Current industry work includes modifying existing spaces to accommodate for COVID-19 protection, including installing plexiglass at areas of interaction, transitioning two-way doors into single entryways and exits, and installing touchless fixtures, to name a few. 

“The modifications being made to these facilities allow people to have peace of mind while following best practices,” Cornick says. “For example, we are working with Bergen County right now on a reopening plan that would safely allow their employees and their constituents to return to these physical spaces and facilities, such as court houses and administrative buildings.” 

However, whether clients are being proactive against future pandemics heavily depends on their policies and financial abilities, he added. 

“Clients who already are and have been considering their employees’ health and wellbeing at work are certainly considering more WELL Building Certifications and making the appropriate accommodations to be better prepared if something like this should ever happen again,” Cornick says. “But some more reactive folks don’t want to, or can’t make, any capital decisions based solely on COVID-19. [They] are going to continue to do what they typically would from a brick-and-mortar standpoint, while addressing any government mandates or socially responsible accommodations with measures such as a reduction in office capacities.” 

“What’s next for any institution with a large capital plan still seems underdetermined in these continued uncertain circumstances,” White says. “That said, as we look ahead, many healthcare institutions, for example, are anxious for people to get back to booking elective surgeries and other revenue-generating procedures, so we expect more projects to ecmerge once the threat of continued surges is behind us.” 

Still, many building owners are beginning to analyze future projects in terms of funding and square footage, Cornick says, given the fact that remote work has become more necessary – and more viable – during COVID-19. 

“Will they still need that much physical space?” he says. “It depends on who you talk to – which is why I think we may realize more of an impact from this in 2021 into 2022.” 

Romanski agrees. “One day, a designer told us buildings will be smaller because more folks are now working from home, and the next day, a client called and said they wanted even more square footage to better allow for social distancing,” he says. 

Rosenberg says that while the public buildings his firm is currently constructing and planning for are all working to accommodate on-site employees, it is still too soon to tell how people will react. 

“We’re still going through the transition – and most people don’t want to spend a tremendous amount of money now for solutions to the unknown.”  

The Raw Materials Factor 

The speed at which buildings are constructed is being impacted by natural disasters.

While many industry players say they experienced only minor inconsistencies in the supply chain during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Christopher Cornick, director of business development in New Jersey for Gilbane Building Co., says 2020 proved why firms like his should always be brought on early in the design process.

“At the height of COVID-19, we had to shut down some project sites due to government mandates, but when we returned, the virus had already spread to other geographies and began impacting, for example, commercial furniture manufacturing in Michigan,” Cornick says. “We’re also continuing to see impacts on traditional building commodities like drywall and lumber as a result of a combination of COVID-19, the storms in the Gulf, and the fires in the West – and that doesn’t even account for all the materials coming in from overseas.”  

If items used to take 14 weeks to receive, manufacturers are now extending those delivery dates to 20 weeks and charging premiums to expedite, Cornick adds.  

“But if an architect is creating specifications, and we are also at the table, we can help guide our clients in those decisions,” he explains. “We could say, ‘Hey, what you chose is coming from location X, and there could be some impact to our schedule and your costs because of that.’  

“We could then present them with more local, more readily available, and more cost-effective options, because it’s tough to make up the time when construction has already begun,” Cornick concludes.

This article originally appeared in New Jersey Business

Kurt Vierheilig Talks Pandemic Related Residential Shifts in NJBIZ Conversations

Kurt Vierheilig Talks Pandemic Related Residential Shifts in NJBIZ Conversations 1644 925 DMR Architects

On the Aug. 31 edition of NJBIZ Conversations, Kurt Vierheilig joined editor Jeffrey Kanige to discuss how today’s largely at home workforce might influence the next evolution of residential design.

As DMR’s lead designer, Kurt has seen DMR’s portfolio of nearly more than 10,000 residential units through design and during that time has seen the sector take several turns, most recently a largely amenity-focused approach that focused on impressive packages that brought people out of their units and into common areas.

However, today, with an unprecedented number of workers working from home, Kurt discusses how DMR’s commitment to creating functional, comfortable, and accommodating spaces to call home has taken on a new challenge – and offers some insight that might be helpful to those right now particularly eager to improve their home workspace.

Watch the full conversation or read a summary on our blog

The changing work habits caused by COVID-19 could give NJ suburban office space a boost

The changing work habits caused by COVID-19 could give NJ suburban office space a boost 960 540 DMR Architects

by Melanie Anzidei

For nearly four months, a large chunk of New Jersey has been working from home.

Now, even though the state’s reopening is on pause, employers are preparing for an eventual return to the workplace — and experts familiar with the North Jersey suburban office market are predicting the suburbs may see an unexpected boost from the pandemic.

That’s because, with the threat of COVID-19 unlikely to subside in coming months, employers will be forced to adapt to a new normal — a more flexible work environment.

“A key question now is, with the pandemic, are we going to see a renewed suburban office market?” said James Hughes, a Rutgers professor and dean emeritus of the school’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. “It’s not going to go back to what it was in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but the demand for satellite offices and the like — where employees could spend one or two days a week at home, one or two days at the satellite office, and then one at the headquarters building — may be the new pattern.”

Meanwhile, the pandemic is also accelerating trends, like more flexible work-from-home policies, which have already started to change the way developers design new residential rental space.

One of Mountain Development Corporation's suburban office complexes in Woodland Park.
Michael Allen Seeve, president of Mountain Development Corp., a commercial real estate developing firm based in Woodland Park, has experienced an uptick in interest from Manhattan-based employers who have signed multi-year leases on small suburban spaces, generally under 10,000-square-feet. The employers, he said, are interested in finding office space where a large concentration of their employees live — including areas like Chatham in Morris County, Woodland Park in Passaic County and Stamford, Connecticut.

“We’ve actually seen a lot of interest from companies that were based in Manhattan and like the idea of having a space closer to some of their employees’ homes,” Seeve said. “We’ve had some real activity in a lot of our buildings for smaller spaces for just that kind of user, and if that’s a trend that continues, that could be very positive for the suburbs.”

Although many companies have been operating remotely since New Jersey and New York’s stay at home orders were issued in March, businesses have been preparing for their employees’ eventual return over the past month, Seeve said. At Mountain Development, tenants have asked about protocols for cleaning, mask enforcement, air conditioning filters, limiting capacity on elevators, handling mail, and related concerns, although it remains unclear when employees will repopulate office space.

“They’re not going to reoccupy with everyone at once,” Seeve said. “Some people will continue to work at home, and some people will come back to the office — and they may do it in teams or in phases.”

New designs for the home office

The change in work culture, which emphasized more flexibility to work from home, has also influenced residential design. Some firms are designing spaces for future homeowners with those cultural shifts in mind, said Lloyd A. Rosenberg, president and chief executive of DMR Architects, an architectural and urban design firm based in Hasbrouck Heights.

In these instances, the design could include devoting a separate area entirely for working at home, rather than using a bedroom as a makeshift office, Rosenberg said. This new kind of design can be an upgrade from what many have been doing in recent months, like working from their kitchen island or dining room table.

Lloyd Rosenberg, president and CEO of DMR.

The emphasis on flexibility and remote work is likely to accelerate trends in work culture that were already in motion, said Hughes, the Rutgers professor.

“It’s sort of a gasoline on the fire accelerant,” he said. “It’s accelerating trends that had been in force, but rapidly increasing the pace of change. The most obvious is working at home. But what probably would have happened over five years may be compressed into six months to a year.

“Firms are going to have to rethink how work is going to take place in many businesses,” Hughes said.

Fewer group spaces, the return of private offices?

While the pandemic has made remote work the standard for many businesses overnight, some employees may be eager to get back to the office, where certain tasks might be easier to complete. For that reason, Hughes predicts that some companies will invest in satellite suburban offices to serve as resource centers or areas to collaborate — and which are easier to get to than a company’s city headquarters.

“It’s not simply working at home versus working at a central office,” Hughes said. “I think we’re going to see that more dispersed, multi-locational pattern for a number of companies, and that’s going to work to the advantage of New Jersey’s aging suburban office inventory.”

Social distancing guidelines will also impact office culture, Hughes said. Companies will likely set in place scattered schedules. And social distancing will jettison the trend of shared office spaces and collaborative work environments that employers recently introduced to appeal to younger employees, like millennials.

The emphasis on suburbs by large corporations is reminiscent of the 1980s in New Jersey, when the state experienced what Hughes described as a “massive suburban office boom.” At that time, employees were fleeing Manhattan.

“New York City was hemorrhaging jobs. It had a fiscal crisis. There were drug problems and the like. Corporate America was fleeing to the suburbs, and so we had a massive office building boom,” Hughes said. “Eighty percent of all the office space ever built in the history of New Jersey went up during that ten-year period, from 1980 to 1990.”

Eventually, the rise of 21st century technology marked the beginning of the end for the suburban office parks of the 1980s in Bergen County. Many of the spaces that were built during the office boom became outdated, and in recent years developers have re-purposed these areas for new uses, as distribution centers, retail and housing developments, said Hughes.

Yet before the pandemic, the New Jersey office market was generally strong, thanks to a robust economy that resulted in employee hiring, Seeve said. However, the economy has since taken a nosedive with the coronavirus pandemic — some of Seeve’s tenants have canceled leases because they went out of business.

Still, Seeve said those in the sector have been working collaboratively to navigate the pandemic as best they can. And, he cautioned, the suburbs can only thrive if Manhattan, too, recovers from the financial fallout of COVID-19.

“As difficult as it feels right now, I suspect that New York will bounce back and turn into a slightly different, but still spectacular city soon enough,” Seeve said. “It’s great to see a surge of activity in the suburbs, but not at the expense of New York. The suburbs exist in sympathy with New York, not in competition with New York, so it’s important, I think, for New York to enjoy a recovery as soon as possible.”

This article originally appears on NorthJersey.com.

How can state and local leaders help bring new foot traffic to their downtowns?

How can state and local leaders help bring new foot traffic to their downtowns? 960 540 DMR Architects

(Excerpt)

We assembled a panel of industry experts to tackle this month’s question.

Here’s what they had to say.

Francis Reiner, senior urban designer, DMR Architects (Hasbrouck Heights)

There are a number of important aspects municipalities will need to consider moving forward. The design of public sidewalks, parks, plazas and other gathering spaces will be a critical component to meet the increasing needs of residents in downtowns under the ‘new normal.’

We anticipate the continued expansion of outdoor dining, both along the street and within larger parks and plazas. The design of the street and building setbacks along with smaller pocket parks and plazas at specific nodes within a downtown will be critical to support restaurants and outdoor dining similar to the Atlantic Street Park in Hackensack that was completed in 2015.

Municipalities should consider opportunities to temporarily convert on-street or ancillary parking, as well as street and alleyway closures on weekends and at night and building temporary pocket parks and parklets that support these types of function while allowing safe movement of pedestrians within a downtown.

This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in RE-NJ

Lloyd Rosenberg Listed Among the “Real Estate Power 50” by NJBIZ

Lloyd Rosenberg Listed Among the “Real Estate Power 50” by NJBIZ 150 150 DMR Architects

We are proud to congratulate our President & CEO Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA on being named on the NJBIZ Commercial Real Estate Power 50 list.

An accomplished architect who has designed projects around the world, Lloyd enjoyed a storied architectural career prior to founding DMR in 1991. Today, he oversees our team of 40, who collectively have designed countless projects that have transformed the landscape and real estate environment of New Jersey.

You can find the entire list of honorees here.

Video Release Celebrates Building 3 Opening at The Grande at Metro Park

Video Release Celebrates Building 3 Opening at The Grande at Metro Park 789 444 DMR Architects
Tonight DMR will join the Township of Woodbridge and developers and residents of The Grande at Metro Park to celebrate the ribbon cutting of Building 3, the third of four buildings at the residential development which will ultimately be a 355-unit rental community. Today we are also celebrating the building’s opening with a video release highlighting a key feature of the development, its expansive amenity package.