July 20, 2023
Dear Friends,
Thank you for making the 2023 NJ Planning and Redevelopment Conference a resounding success. I would like to thank each and every one of our partners, participants, speakers, and sponsors who contributed to that success — you made it happen. 

Now in our third year partnering with APA New Jersey and second year holding a virtual hybrid and in-person conference, we are incredibly pleased by the energy and enthusiasm generated by the conference. I would like to specifically thank our title sponsor, PSE&G, for their continued support of this conference which gives all of us that crucial chance to learn, network, and collaborate on improving our great state’s future.

This edition of our NJF Newsletter is a full-fledged recap of the key sessions from this year’s conference. Read up on our expert panelists and vibrant speakers who thoughtfully addressed a variety of topics including transportation and water infrastructure, housing affordability, exceptional redevelopment projects, and the anticipated update of the State Plan. What’s clear is the following — our state leaders in government, transportation, planning, and development are aware that together we are building a future full of opportunity and inclusivity in New Jersey, and none of us can do it alone. What we accomplish together in this decade of opportunity and unprecedented funding will ensure a prosperous future for our state.

Please enjoy reading about all of the great discussions and sessions we were honored to co-host with APA New Jersey. And remember, if you registered for the conference, you can still access the recorded sessions.

Peter Kasabach
Executive Director
Smart Growth for Everyone
Smart Growth is equitable growth. It is also restorative, as smart growth and redevelopment can help correct systemic racial and economic disparities. As New Jersey Future drives land use decision-making toward more equitable outcomes, we will be sharing useful resources and lessons in this monthly spotlight. Please give us your feedback and share with us any particularly insightful articles, talks, events, or videos that you come across.
Each year, NJF and APA NJ aims to increase representation and inclusivity at our signature NJ Planning and Redevelopment Conference. The 2023 edition of this conference represents a high water mark in this regard where a number of sessions directly addressed equity, anti-racism, inclusivity in historic landmark designations, and more.
Keynote speaker Mike Ford delivered unforgettable remarks, sharing his unique experiences as a “hip hop architect” and addressing a number of key themes particularly pertinent to NJ audiences. 2023 marks the 50th Birthday of Hip Hop, and Ford drew a clear link between the Black influence on culture and architecture, and underlined the importance of hip hop as a criticism of the built environment that shaped it. A second virtual session titled, “Hip Hop Will Save Your Life” explored these themes even further, proffering examples of the influence of hip hop advocacy on water and infrastructure. Read more in the “Hip Hop at 50” blog post covering both sessions.
Three additional key sessions held at the conference elevated the importance of BIPOC developers, indigenous representation, and inclusive historic landmarks, and two sessions shined a spotlight on the need for better planned and integrated affordable housing opportunities. Sites of important LGBTQ+ history are often overlooked while hidden in plain sight. Recently, the childhood home in Jersey City of a transgender icon has become considered for historic landmark designation. The conference session outlined the important history and lengthy journey for this recognition, which you can read about in “Landmarking a Legacy.”

As we aim to shape the future, it is imperative we incorporate the perspectives and lessons from pre-colonial life in New Jersey and include the Lenni-Lenape in decision-making. Native American techniques of ecosystem and resource management provided sustainable abundance for native populations. Learn more about indigenous practices and restoring the cultural identity of native people through the creation of a cultural interpretive center in our local Mahicannitukw/Hudson Estuary Bioregion in our write up, "Rethinking Colonial Narratives and Transforming Native Insight into Actions: Indigenous Preservation of History."

The percentage of BIPOC developers is a mere 1% nationwide. “The Changing Faces of Developers” session provided a number of reflections and resources on what representation means within the development community, and what increasing and encouraging more BIPOC leaders to enter into the industry can mean for our state.
“Watersheds are not political and do not follow political delineations,” said Mayor Andrew Nowick from the City of Lambertville at the 2023 NJ Planning and Redevelopment Conference (NJPRC). As flooding increases due to increased intense rain events and aging stormwater infrastructure, it is more important than ever to plan ahead to protect all New Jerseyans in the face of climate change.
“Water is the only utility you ingest,” noted Mark McDonough, President of New Jersey American Water, as he reflected on the serious responsibility that water utilities have to protect the health of the communities they serve. To deliver on this responsibility, water utilities must address ever-changing environmental challenges. Read More.
“New Jersey has a storied history of working to address affordable housing. For over five decades, municipalities and developers have collaborated and/or clashed in state agencies and in the courts,“ noted Tom D’Allessio, Vice President of Policy, American Planning Association, NJ Chapter, as he opened one of the two lively, productive sessions on affordable housing at the 2023 Planning and Redevelopment Conference. Read More.
The State Plan “is more than a guide for land-use… it’s for public health, transportation, and much more,” stated Michael Kolber, Senior Planner for the City of Trenton, during the 2023 Planning and Redevelopment Conference as a panelist on the roundtable session Launching the Next State Plan, sponsored by New Jersey Future and the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association. Read More.
While New York City boasts the “House that Ruth Built,” and Cooperstown and Kansas City host hall of fames, New Jersey’s role in the history of baseball, and in particular, NJ’s open exhibition of Black baseball during segregation is often overlooked. Hinchliffe Stadium was once a bustling hub for Black baseball, drawing fans from across the region to Paterson, NJ to see the best players of the day. Read More.
“It doesn’t matter if we make every vehicle electric, and it doesn’t matter if we turn of all power plants; climate change will still get worse,” exclaimed Shawn LaTourette, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), during the 2023 Planning and Redevelopment Conference plenary, The State of Planning and Redevelopment in New Jersey, co-sponsored by New Jersey Future and the NJ Chapter of the American Planning Association. Read More.
Transit-friendly planning is a proactive, transit-focused approach developed by NJ Transit that is applicable to any community. Transit-friendly planning and transit-oriented development (TOD) are important components of smart growth because they allow people to live, work and play without having to rely on a car. Read More.
While New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation at the macro level, at the local level it is also one of the most segregated. The state has grown more demographically diverse over the last two decades, but most of its individual towns and neighborhoods are either predominantly white or predominantly non-white, with few places occupying the “diverse” range in between. Read More.
As the world slowly but surely emerges from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of us are evaluating the new parameters of our state and national economies that have experienced stimulus spending, historic inflation, supply chain disruptions, and high interest rates all in quick succession. Read More.
Founded in 1987, New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes sensible and equitable growth, redevelopment, and infrastructure investments to foster healthy, strong, resilient communities; protect natural lands and waterways; increase transportation choices beyond cars; provide access to safe, affordable, and aging-friendly neighborhoods; and fuel a strong economy for everyone. New Jersey Future does this through original research, innovative policy development, coalition-building, advocacy, and hands-on strategic assistance. Embracing differences and advancing fairness is central to New Jersey Future’s mission and operations. New Jersey Future is firmly committed to pursuing greater justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion through its programs, internal operations, and external communications.