After he was done detailing a more than four-decade career that has seen him grow from a novice commercial real estate broker to someone who is known around the state — and around the country and even around the world — as a standard of excellence in the industry, Cushman & Wakefield Executive Vice Chairman Bob Donnelly explained why the thrill of the game remains the same for him.
“If it hasn’t come through my comments, I just have to say, ‘I love this business,’” he said. “It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s competitive. You have the thrill of the hunt, make the deal. And life goes on.”
Donnelly, the recipient of the Charles Klatskin Lifetime Achievement Award at the 36th annual Commercial Real Estate Awards by the New Jersey chapter of NAIOP, told the overflow audience of more than 700 at the Palace at Somerset Park in Somerset that those in the audience have played a key role in his life’s journey.
“The best part of it all, are the people,” he said. “The brokers, the developers, the lawyers, the architects, all of you in this audience, literally create what I think is the most exciting industry, certainly in the state, maybe in the world. So, thank you for this honor.”
It certainly is well deserved.
Donnelly is credited with being a pioneer in the development of comprehensive corporate services account work. He has maintained the longest-standing landlord/leasing agency at Cushman & Wakefield, having represented Headquarters Plaza in Morristown since it was constructed in 1980.
Donnelly has represented numerous Fortune 500 companies and has had oversight of hundreds of millions of square feet of office leases throughout his 43-year career.
But, if you think all of his success comes from years gone by, you’d be mistaken. In the past 18 months alone, he has handled some of the largest leases in the state, totaling over 1 million square feet at AT&T, PTC Therapeutics and Fiserv.
His legacy, of course, includes family. His son, Robert Donnelly Jr., a vice chair at Cushman & Wakefield, has been with the firm for more than two decades — and was among those whose work was honored last night.
Other honorees included:
Chris Paladino, president, New Brunswick Development Corp.
He has initiated, developed and managed 8.3 million square feet in residential, academic, commercial and institutional projects, valued at $3.5 million, during his nearly three-decade career. Among numerous efforts currently underway is the $900 million Jack and Cheryl Morris project at the Rutgers Cancer Institute, and the translation research hub known as HELIX. Both are in New Brunswick.
George Jacobs, president, Jacobs Enterprises
Active in CRE since 1974, he started Jacobs Enterprises in 1990 — and has been a developer, consultant and broker on numerous projects ever since. His most prominent current project is the 230,000-square-foot Styertowne Shopping Center, a renovation expected to finish this year.
Industry Service Award
Meryl Gonchar, member, Sills Cummis & Gross
Co-chair of the firm’s Land Use Practice Group, she is one of the leading land-use attorneys in the state. Her practice encompasses all aspects of land use, redevelopment, zoning and related litigation.
Public Partner Award
Sheila Oliver, lieutenant governor
In addition to her role as LG, she serves as the commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, where she has led efforts to strengthen and expand initiatives for fair and affordable housing, community revitalization, homelessness prevention and local government services.