Panepinto honored with Lifetime Achievement Award at Jersey City Summit

Joseph Panepinto Sr., founder of Panepinto Properties, was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 9th annual Jersey City Summit.

The event brought together city, county and state municipal leaders, including Gov. Phil Murphy and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, along with the most influential figures in investment and urban development.

The award recognized Panepinto’s nearly 50 years of transformative development and philanthropic contributions to Jersey City.

His vision and commitment have played a pivotal role in the city’s renaissance, with his influence visible from the reimagined Hudson River waterfront to the bustling Grove Street district to historic Journal Square.

Under Panepinto’s leadership since its founding in 1977, Panepinto Properties has built an impressive portfolio comprising more than 17.6 million square feet both domestically and abroad. This substantial breadth of work has not only fueled remarkable economic growth, but has helped transform Jersey City into a thriving international destination.

“Joe Panepinto’s dedication to Jersey City is unparalleled,” Sherif Abouzied, founding principal of the Jersey City Summit, said. “His nearly five decades of visionary work have not only reshaped the skyline, but also revitalized neighborhoods, fostering a vibrant and thriving community. We couldn’t think of a more deserving individual for our Lifetime Achievement Award.”

During the award ceremony, which included a fireside chat with W. Nevins McCann, a partner with Connell Foley LLP, Panepinto reflected on his lifelong connection to Jersey City.

Born in the 1940s, Panepinto witnessed the city’s decline but chose to stay and invest in its future. After graduating from law school, he served as planning board attorney and Redevelopment Agency attorney for the city and was a part of the principal team drafting plans for urban redevelopment.

Transitioning to development, Panepinto helped spark a resurgence in the city. Notable projects over the years include the construction of Maher Terminals’ corporate headquarters at 1 Journal Square Plaza; partnering with Hartz Mountain Industries to build the ADP office building; partnering with Mack-Cali Realty Corp. to add Harborside Financial Center Plaza 10; and partnering with Ironstate Development Co. to develop the Columbus Collection, a mixed-use project at the Grove Street Path entrance comprising residential, street-level retail space and a Residence Inn by Marriott; and partnering with Urby on Journal Square Urby, a 317-unit building that will be opening shortly.

Panepinto also was instrumental in bringing ferry service to what is now Exchange Place on property that was vacated by the Colgate-Palmolive manufacturing facilities.

“That was the game-changer, when commuters were able to take the ferry from Jersey City to Manhattan to go to work,” Panepinto said. “Some companies also started to realize that they would be better off locating their offices in Jersey City.”

Panepinto believes that one of the keys to success is in choosing trusted partners.

“Most of my partners were people I had known through my work with the city or during my time as a lawyer,” he said.

In addition, Panepinto’s barometer was always, “If it’s good for Jersey City, it’s good for us,” a principle he still upholds today as he remains a key player in Jersey City’s growth and economic vitality. The company’s ongoing developments continue to shape the city’s landscape and contribute to its prosperity. Current projects include 499 Summit Ave., a 53-story, 605-unit rental building rising next to the Journal Square Transportation Center, and Harborside 4, in partnership with Related Cos., that will deliver 50- and 38-story buildings with 800 units to the downtown waterfront.

Beyond real estate, Panepinto’s philanthropic efforts have made a lasting impact on Jersey City. He has been instrumental in saving historic landmarks like the Loew’s Theatre and has served on the governing boards of institutions such as St. Peter’s University and Christ Hospital, and supports RWJBarnabas Health Jersey City Medical Center, where his son, Joseph Panepinto Jr., is a board member.