Here’s what one retail expert would tell every small-town planning board in N.J.

Jason Pierson has been to enough planning board meetings to know one thing: Most planning board members don’t understand real estate development.

Especially when it comes to retail.

Pierson, the head of Pierson Commercial, sat down with ROI-NJ’s Tom Bergeron for our annual Interview Issue.

Pierson, when asked what would help economic development, said towns would benefit if their leaders had more knowledge.

I think there should be requirements for them to go through an urban planning and a real estate development course,” he said. “You do have a lot of people on these boards that just do not understand the business aspect or understand the drivers behind a retailer.

Keith Muccilli
Jason Pierson of Pierson Commercial.

“They might say, ‘We want Starbucks.’ But Starbucks requires a drive-thru or Starbucks might have one up the road, or it may be a market that just doesn’t support another Starbucks. It could be the demographics or how the access might be, or the parking and so on and so forth. So, they need to understand how things work from a retailer’s perspective.”

Drive-thrus, Pierson said, are an added issue.

“With certain tenants, it’s an absolute requirement,” he said. “Drive-thrus can drive a tremendous amount of revenue to the bottom line.

“And think about how many days that we have of inclement weather here. I would venture to say that there’s probably at least 100 days throughout the year that is either raining, snowing or so cold that you don’t want to get out of your car and go into someplace. That’s almost a third of the year.”

That’s just one of the things municipal leaders could be educated on, he said.

To read the complete interview, click here.

The Interview Issue