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Leasing activity’s on the rise in New Jersey, top broker says

Al Urbanski
Essential retailers and brands with cash on hand are taking up empty spaces in New Jersey, says Danielle Brunelli.

Following a year when leasing activity declined by almost 30% in her state, a top broker in New Jersey sees a significant uptick in retail expansion with strong brands like Planet Fitness, Dollar Tree, and Five Below eagerly snapping up empty spaces.

Danielle Brunelli, president of the R.J. Brunelli & Co. brokerage, noted that though Northern New Jersey markets were harmed significantly by bankruptcies of such companies as Pier 1, Modell’s, and Stein Mart, many of their empty spaces are now being occupied by brands that have high liquidity and essential goods to sell.

Dollar Tree signed leases for nine new stores in the state and grocers including Amazon Fresh, Lidl, and Uncle Giuseppe's are also expanding into the market, according to Brunelli. Other brands expanding their profiles in Jersey are Popeyes, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jersey Mike's, Wingstop, and Smashburger.

"Despite various public-health encumbrances, some tenants were able to move quickly to lease, build out, and debut their stores in 2020," Brunelli said. "We negotiated a deal for Chipotle at a drive-thru location in North Bergen in which the tenant signed the lease, obtained permits, constructed the space, and opened all within 2020."

All took advantage of good deals from landlords, who were offering rents at least 3% lower than they charged in 2019.

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