For Denholtz, NAIOP’s Lifetime Achievement Award is testament to how he has selflessly developed communities and colleagues

Port’s Rooney, Carteret Mayor Reiman, longtime CEO McGuinness and CSG Law also honored at annual gala of commercial real estate industry in state

Steve Denholtz likes to build buildings, build communities and build a team to do it all for the good of the state. It’s how he has run Denholtz Properties, the privately held Red-Bank-based family business, for decades.

Building himself up? That doesn’t come so naturally.

As he humbly accepted the prestigious Charles Klatskin Lifetime Achievement Award Thursday night at the NAIOP New Jersey‘s 37th annual Commercial Real Estate Awards at the Palace at Somerset Park in Somerset, Denholtz made sure to talk about everyone else, thanking his family and friends, colleagues, competitors and contemporaries.

The pre-speech video told the standing-room-only crowd what everyone there already knew: Denholtz is more than a visionary, he is a shining example of what leaders in the commercial real estate space aim to be. Consider:

  • “Steve has vision like few others possess. He has the ability to see things not for what they are, not for what they could be, but what they shouldn’t be.”
  • “His participation in nonprofits are all huge components to what he loves to build in this community.”
  • “He is a guiding hand in difficult times, and a rousing cheerleader in good ones.”
  • “Steve has achieved a great deal in his long and storied career. The buildings he has put up will be a testament to his talents for decades. But, mostly, I want to congratulate Steve for his humanity and his compassion, his understanding and friendship. These are stronger than any of the buildings he has constructed.”

But, oh, has he built buildings. And communities.

He told the crowd about his first, a 125,000-square-foot industrial effort in Carteret in 1983 — and how the firm has grown from three people to 125 people and from $10 million in assets to $1.7 billion in assets.

“It’s been quite a ride,” he said.

One that’s not close to being finished.

Steven Cassidy, his longtime business partner, summed it up this way.

“Steve has been successful in real estate and deserving of this Lifetime Achievement Award for the paths he blazed in terms of building communities, fostering young people, mentoring those around,” he said. “He’s done so for a lifetime and with great success and is very deserving of this award.

“But, what I’m most excited about those are things that are yet to come.”

The annual NAIOP gala certainly celebrated the present (with its Deal of the Year awards), but, as it always does, it saluted so many that have helped the industry to get to where it is today.

All eyes (and cameras) were on the honorees at NAIOP New Jersey’s annual gala and key leaders of the organization following the awards ceremony Thursday night at the Palace at Somerset Park in Somerset.

Consider some of the other key honorees:

  • Impact Award: Beth Rooney, port director, Port of New York/New Jersey: For a three-decade career that has been instrumental to the growth of the state and the industry.
  • Impact Award: Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi, accepted by Dennis Toft and Diana Buongiorno, for its decades-long commitment to the industry and to NAIOP.
  • Caren S. Franzini Public Partner Award: Carteret Mayor Daniel Reiman, for creating an environment that is so welcoming to development.

And, most of all:

  • Industry Service Award: Mike McGuinness — the recently retired longtime CEO of the organization was a fixture at NAIOP for nearly three decades.

But, like any great developer knows, you remember the past, live in the present, but always think about the future.

Deals of the Year

An office and mixed-use deal in Jersey City and an industrial deal in Old Bridge are recognized at the NAIOP New Jersey gala. See the full story here.

NAIOP New Jersey CEO Dan Kennedy assured the members that NAIOP is doing just that.

In addition to a streamlined program that was shorter on speeches and longer on networking, Kennedy told the crowd the best is yet to come.

“Our chapter remains strong by every metric,” he said. “That said, we are assessing our current operations, working to sharpen our strategic focus.

“Charles Darwin got it right. The ability to adapt is the key to survival in a world of relentless change. Adaptation is never easy. But, for organizations like this, there’s no alternative. Standing still is not an option. We are bringing some fresh eyes versus the challenges and new opportunities.

“So, you’ll be hearing from us — not tonight, but in the coming months — about ways we’ll be adapting your chapter to best meet the needs of the CRE industry in New Jersey.”