Premier Properties offers housing alternatives to Rutgers students

When Mitch Broder enrolled at Rutgers University as a political science major in 1984, New Brunswick was a very different city — a far cry from all the high-end residential housing that was built over the past two last decades.

After a short stint in the dorms, Broder and his pals moved off-campus to a house on Louis Street, which would best be described as run-down at the time. With rents hovering around $300 per month per bed, there wasn’t much to expect from the place.

Four walls, heating and working plumbing seemed like everything an off-campus Rutgers student could ask for in the mid-1980s.

As Broder, a Matawan native, moved from one battered home to another during his college years, he saw a great untapped opportunity in New Brunswick. Graduating with his college friends in 1987, he decided to stay back and see if he had a future in the city real estate market.

New Brunswick was about to welcome a rambling young guy like Broder.

Premier Properties co-founders Mitch Broder, left, and Les Salamon.

The central city was on the verge of its renaissance, and there was plenty of old housing that could be bought on the cheap, even at $60,000 for a dilapidated two-family house. So even in his early twenties, Broder began buying houses on Suydam Street, Remsen Avenue and others, renovating them with much of his own sweat.

“I found my degree in political science very useful, especially at that time,” he recalls. “I needed to connect with people, work with the city to share my vision and understand how the approval process works. I was amazed at how well my Rutgers education prepared me for this job, the only job I had after graduation.

As Broder slowly began to accumulate properties, searching for unearthed gems that other investors had happily ignored, he realized he could fill an important niche: providing off-campus UR students with quality homes that even mom and dad would be okay with.

“I remember hiring a handyman with a truck to do the renovations,” Broder recalls. “I told him I wanted to learn everything he knew about construction. Before I could really sell the product, I wanted to fully understand every facet of it. So, I put on a tool belt and served as an assistant. I learned invaluable lessons about the business.

In the early 1990s, Broder bonded with his business partner of the past 25 years, Laszlo Salamon, known in town as “Les”. Salamon had already been in the construction business for nearly 20 years and operated various New Brunswick-based businesses, including Hub City Construction.

With Broder handling marketing and business administration and Salamon handling construction and field operations, the duo started Construction Management Associates Inc.

“With Mitch, I too always knew that New Brunswick had huge advantages. It was just a matter of putting boots on the ground and doing the heavy lifting,” Salamon said. The construction company currently operates with the property management operation, Premier Properties of New Brunswick.

Broder and Salamon began their work together on rue Bayard, buying abandoned commercial properties and gradually building a real estate portfolio. And they never looked back.

Over the years, CMA has built or developed more than 500 housing units in New Brunswick, while New Brunswick Premier Properties has approximately 350 housing units under management in the city. All units are newly built or renovated apartment complexes serving both Rutgers students and others who wish to live in new, modern accommodations in the 292-year-old city.

“With Rutgers in the Big Ten, students come to campus with an expectation of quality off-campus housing, just like what they would see at other great universities like the University of Michigan, University of Texas, Ohio State, etc.” said Broder, who is president of the company. “We’ve answered that need by creating the kind of attractive, safe, and modern off-campus housing that helps Rutgers better compete with students.”

The goal of any developer catering to Rutgers students is to find properties as close to College Avenue as possible, making these apartments both popular and convenient for a student rushing to class.

That’s why Premier Properties has carefully orchestrated a 20-year journey to rehabilitate as much of Union Street as possible – UK’s former fraternity row. The company has constructed many buildings filled with amenities, including on-site gyms, a garage, light-filled halls, and many other attractions that you would never have found in the now demolished old fraternity houses.

The company markets its properties on the row as “Union Street”, with scarlet red and black banners identifying the neighborhood and linking it closely to the university.

Blanche Garcia

Blanche Garcia, director of B. Garcia Designs, used television to build her brand. – PHOTO BY AARON HOUSTON

“We find that one of the most important features of our properties is the professionally designed interiors,” Broder said, noting that the company works exclusively with renowned designer Blanch Garcia of B. Garcia Design. “The interior design product she produces for us is invaluable.”

With rents ranging from $800 to $1,500 per month per bed, there are apartments with a wide variety of amenities. Premier Properties offers studio, one, two and in a few cases three bedroom apartments with 12 month leases. All buildings are professionally maintained and managed, with electronic entry door locking systems, 24-hour CCTV systems, and exterior and common area lighting.

Premier Properties’ main concentration of Rutgers housing is on Easton Avenue, Union Street, Mine Street and Sicard Street, all within walking distance of the university, as well as New Brunswick Station and the downtown. The company also operates campus father properties, at Louis, Hamilton and Maple streets, which offer relatively lower rents than properties closer to campus.

The company is based at 205 Easton Ave., within walking distance of most of its properties. Broder said this is another selling point because the company is convenient and provides face-to-face service to any renter with a problem or question.

For the upcoming school year, Broder said, the vast majority of units are rented; a few stay for occupation on September 1st. Learn more at premierpropertiesofnewbrunswick.com

Jonathan Jaffe is President and CEO of Jaffe Communications, Inc., which provides public relations services for Premier Properties of New Brunswick.

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