East Brunswick students cap UrbanPlan program with trip to Russo communities

Forty students from East Brunswick High School in the Urban Land Institute Northern New Jersey’s 2024 UrbanPlan program got a firsthand look at what they are studying this week when they joined Russo Development executives and team members for a tour of the company’s East Brunswick and Woodbridge Vermella luxury residential rental community sites.

Joined by Woodbridge Mayor John MacCormac and Woodbridge Economic Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Caroline Ehrlich, as well as ULI NNJ program volunteers, the students gained an invaluable firsthand look at redevelopment in action and the wide variety of careers available in the commercial real estate and planning industries.

Ed Russo, CEO of Russo Development, said his firm was happy to help.

“We are deeply honored to provide these students with a firsthand view of redevelopment in progress in their local communities,” he said. “We see the tremendous potential of this program to inspire the next generation of community-oriented real estate and planning leaders, and we are proud to support its continued growth.”

Created by ULI, UrbanPlan offers an opportunity for students to participate in a hands-on, simulated real estate planning program while working side-by-side with leading industry professionals. Through the program, students learn about the fundamental forces that affect real estate development and how responsible development can shape, transform and ultimately improve our communities.

ULI NNJ introduced the UrbanPlan curriculum to East Brunswick High School in 2019. Earlier this year, Russo Development became the event sponsor.

This is the first year a field trip was added to the ULI NNJ UrbanPlan curriculum. ULI NNJ also recently announced the program’s expansion to East Orange Public Schools this year.

ULI NNJ Executive Director Mara Winokur was thrilled.

“The UrbanPlan program’s curriculum is designed to show students how they can better understand and, ultimately, shape their local communities,” she said. “We thank Russo Development for sharing their time and expertise with our students to help make that vision a reality.”

Russo Development’s Vermella East Brunswick and Vermella Woodbridge highlight both ends of the redevelopment process that students explore in the UrbanPlan curriculum. Currently under construction in a joint venture partnership with River Development Equities, Vermella East Brunswick is a mixed-use development project, along southbound Route 18. Once completed, the project will feature 753 units at completion with 30,000 square feet of retail.

Just a short drive away, Vermella Woodbridge is a thriving mixed-use campus with 500 units constructed in a joint venture partnership with Onyx Equities. The community boasts inspired amenities, such as Vermella’s signature resort-style pool, outdoor lounges, playground, dog park and community garden.

Real estate professionals interested in participating in or sponsoring UrbanPlan can contact Winokur at 201-312-8817 or mara.winokur@uli.org.