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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on July 12, 2000. All rights reserved.
Cleaning Up In Every Sense: Sadat Associates
Oh yes, there are deals to be made out there," says
Jeffrey Entin of Sadat Associates Inc. at Forrestal Village.
"Buy land dirty (and cheap), clean it up, and great profits can
be realized. Real estate, after all, is an elastic commodity."
For those interested in the technical, legal and financial aspects
of site cleanups, Entin will be moderating a panel to examine "Is
Brownfield Redevelopment Economically Viable" for the New Jersey
Technology Council on Wednesday, July 19, at 5:30 p.m. at Johnson
and Johnson’s New Brunswick headquarters, 410 George Street. Representing
environmental, legal, and real estate interests are Terri Smith,
brownfield coordinator for the state department of environmental protection,
Joseph Schmidt of Drinker Biddle & Shanley on College Road and
Bob Cahill, senior vice president of the Advance Group, the
Bedminster-based firm that is developing the Bovis building at Alexander
and Vaughn Drive. Cost: $70. 856-787-9700.
Entin insists that brownfields (property with soil or water contaminated
to some degree by previous owners) are something that every wise investor
must consider. He should know. While the 45 scientists and engineers
of Sadat Associates range as far abroad as Morocco and develop solid
waste sites on Palestine’s West Bank, Entin is the regional expert
for Princeton’s turf. Raised in Hightstown, he holds Rutgers’ Cook
College degrees in environmental science and environmental engineering.
As Sadat’s senior manager and assistant vice president, he guides
land buyers through site selection, cleanup viability, remediation,
and on through to profit.
One of his success stories can be found in Bayonne, where on summer
weekends golfers vent frustrations on the pure green links. Beneath
them once stood buried a host of leaky oil drums that all confirmed
"rendered the property beyond investment." All except Jeff
Entin, who found safe cleaning and transporting methods.
The Elizabeth Metro Mall boasts another enviable "stolen deal"
story. With Sadat’s advice, investors purchased this old landfill
for a virtual song and placed their shopping mall on city-view property
one would happily pay triple for next door.
Altruism rarely drives brownfield redevelopment; profit remains the
major mover. But a prospective buyer must always weigh the cost of
the cleanup and the time involved against the cost of other already
clean land — and factor in the return that investors will expect.
Fortunately, Entin points out, there are some rules of thumb.
economy, with interest rates under 9 percent.
clean oasis amidst a pool of pollution is a poor investment. Entin
disagrees with the adage that redevelopment is strictly a high-price,
urban game. It works throughout the least populated parts of Mercer
and Middlesex, all the time.
Here the labyrinth of law envelopes you, and specialized guides are
a must. "We love good lawyers," notes Entin. "and have
quite a cadre we recommend."
has modified many previous cleanup statutes. Now you may be able to
stabilize your land’s contamination for a period. You might apply
the D.E.P.’s "Hammer," forcing the seller to share costs.
they may seem. The Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund, for
instance, offers both grants and loans to redevelopers. Federal and
state tax incentives can be gleaned. But do not factor them into the
business plan, because if the state determines that your land has
only partially been cleaned, you might have to pay remuneration. One
thing government will not deliver, Entin says, is a done-and-paid-for
will show you that some sites are just not worth it. Conventional
wisdom says "stick with bad soil, run from bad water." Zinc
found in industrial soils may be static and can possibly be paved
over. Gasoline drums leaking into the water supply entail a costly
cleanup to avoid poisoning your downstream neighbor. The trick is
knowing who can do the undoable.
is to be flexible. That old piece of clean, green farmland on which
you have been envisioning your Young Ladies Country Day School probably
costs more than your investors are willing to pay. If you can enlist
the help of Sadat Associates or other environmental firms, they might
steer you toward a hidden and much cheaper site.
Though landsite cleanup technology has changed greatly in the past
two decades, the real estate industry still winces at a "contaminated"
lot, and many brokers dismiss brownfield parcels before even mentioning
them to their prospects. Granted, brownfield redevelopment will entail
substantial hassle, but it frequently provides the savings that can
graduate a business from dream to reality.
In the short run almost everyone will agree that redeveloping our
brownfields is economically worth considering. It might save a few
(or a lot of) bucks when building a business. But a bigger question
is, can we afford not to clean up after ourselves? Sadat Associates
sees redevelopment as an integrated part of revitalizing our communities:
We can’t go on merrily fouling our own nest and walking out of town.
— Bart Jackson
Sustainable development" is the new catch phrase
among politicians and environmentalists alike, and to that end, Robert
Shinn, commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental
Protection, has played a major role. Since his appointment in 1994,
Shinn has instituted a handful of programs aimed at getting businesses
to act more responsibly about pollution.
Business development and land preservation, says the commissioner
and former head of the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, are not at
odds. "It’s symbiotic," he says. "Open space preservation
furthers development in town centers and urban areas, and DEP has
many programs to further remediation of brownfields."
Shinn speaks at the Princeton Chamber meeting on "The Impact of
Growth and Development on the Environment," on Thursday, July
13, at 11:30 a.m. Call 609-520-1776. Cost: $30. (For a Wednesday,
July 19, meeting on cleaning up brownfields, see below).
Shinn, the 11th commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection,
has held the position since 1994, longer than any commissioner in
the 29-year history of the office. A former mayor of Hainesport and
Burlington County Freeholder, Shinn has devoted 26 years as an elected
official to open space, Pinelands and farmland preservation, water
supply, and solid waste management issues.
At the time of his nomination, he was a state assemblyman, representing
parts of Atlantic, Burlington, and Camden Counties. Shinn authored
a New Jersey law that gave the state the necessary authority to manage
threatened surface and ground water resources. He also guided the
passage of a mandatory recycling act and wrote the law regulating
the disposal of medical waste in New Jersey. In support of farmland
preservation, he authored the law that allows farmers and private
owners of undeveloped land to be compensated for restricting their
property from development.
By all measures, says Shinn, corporate responsibility and compliance
on environmental issues continues to increase, thanks to successful
pollution prevention programs, and "the growing realization that
economic and environmental objectives are not by any means contradictory,
and that waste and inefficiency are costly." One of the DEP’s
programs, the Silver and Gold Track Program, gives businesses greater
regulatory flexibility in exchange for committing to high environmental
goals. "In many sectors," he says, "environmental awareness
is becoming part of the corporate culture. This is one of the objectives
of our new Gold Track Program — to further this movement by offering
regulatory incentives for achieving environmental goals."
Furthermore, research on environmental technologies is taking off,
especially in the Princeton area, says Shinn, and to further the development
of that technology, the DEP has established the Office of Innovative
Technology and Market Development, and the Corporation for Advanced
"More and more people are realizing the costs of development,"
says Shinn. "Governor Whitman in particular is leading the charge
for more sensible development to protect the quality of life for present
and future generations. The DEP is a full partner in the governor’s
agenda for creating a sustainable state."
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