Realty expert criticizes COAH, fees and its effect on real estate development

A leading state real estate expert Thursday told an Assembly Commerce Committee that affordable housing should not be funded by

A leading state real estate expert Thursday told an Assembly Commerce Committee that affordable housing should not be funded by a jobs tax on commercial real estate.

George Sowa, executive vice president and a senior managing director with Brandywine Real Estate Investment Trust, and president of the N.J. chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, said that although there are signs of an improving real estate market, there are concerns.

Commercial real estate’s success, he said, “must be divorced from the COAH process and it must be done now.’’ COAH is the Council on Affordable Housing.

He stressed that they support affordable housing but he said they’ve identified more than 30 projects that are at risk due to a 2.5 percent COAH fee that is in place.

His testimony came during a hearing into the status of the state’s real estate market.

Sowa said they polled developers and they found 34 projects stalled or in danger due to the COAH-related developers fee. “Incremental costs do matter,’’ he said.

His comments later were echoed by another witness. Tim Touhey of the N.J. Builders Association, who said he is a former co-chair at COAH, told the committee that “We have to eliminate that 2.5 percent fee. End of story.” Realty expert criticizes COAH, fees and its effect on real estate development