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ARTICLE: East Orange CRE Leaders Committed To City’s Revitalization Initiatives

EAST ORANGE, NJ—Embracing and capitalizing on urbanism was the theme of a presentation led by East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor III and Richard Spengler, chief lending officer of Investors Bank, at Tuesday’s gathering of commercial real estate industry leaders. The program, “State of the City of East Orange: Revitalization Investment Initiatives,” was hosted by the East Orange Property Owners Association.

“Our association seeks to forge, strengthen and expand upon private/public partnerships with local officials, economic development agencies and community groups in order to enhance East Orange’s quality of life for all,” says Peter M. Shapiro, EOPOA president and a founding member. “Our like-minded property owners seek to enhance the opportunities for growth, lower the barriers to entry and attract new, established investors as well as experienced property owners and developers to the city.”

Mayor Taylor discussed the role of the collaborative partnership between the City of East Orange and EOPOA, and successes to date. In addition, he provided an overview of future plans and opportunities for the association and local officials to work together to achieve mutually shared goals.

Spengler focused on the role of Investors Bank as an active lender in markets like East Orange, where local organizations are seeking to improve the lives of the residents and communities in which the financial institution invests. Investors Bank, one of the largest community banks headquartered in the state of New Jersey, operates more than 145 branches throughout the Garden State and New York.

Established in 2015, EOPOA is a consortium of private investors, developers, lenders and commercial real estate professionals committed to enhancing the city’s housing stock by partnering with city officials as well as community-based organizations. The association is dedicated to advancing local revitalization initiatives, which have gained tremendous traction over the past three years, through the repurposing of vacant and abandoned land as well as rehabilitation of underutilized properties.

“We subscribe to the philosophy that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats,’” Shapiro says. “By improving the city’s regulatory environment and raising awareness, tax burdens can be reduced by spreading them over a larger base. In turn, this increases valuations and enhances the quality of life for apartment-building tenants and single-family homeowners alike.”

The collaborative approach seems to be bearing fruit. In East Orange today, newly constructed and completely renovated apartment buildings have replaced formerly abandoned buildings to complement the character and history of each distinct tree-lined neighborhood. Divided into five official wards, these neighborhoods include Ampere, Greenwood, Presidential Estates, Elmwood and Doddtown.

Comprised mostly of members with interests in the emerging East Orange submarket as they pertain to multi-family properties of 25+ or more units, the association welcomes owners of smaller multi-family dwellings as well.

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