Maintaining Momentum Across Northern New Jersey

25 September, 2023

A Q&A with Ben Crowder


As Branch Manager of one of Bohler’s newest offices in Ridgewood, New Jersey, Ben Crowder, PE is focused on building a dynamic design team to help developers identify and act on opportunities across the region.

Since 2011, Ben has led various types of real estate development projects throughout New Jersey, including commercial centers, industrial facilities, and residential communities.

In a recent Q&A, Ben weighed in on northern New Jersey’s top land development markets, the biggest challenges developers are facing, and what he hopes to accomplish with his team this year.

What New Jersey development trends do you expect to continue in 2024?

The demand for multifamily housing is expected to remain strong in northern New Jersey. Population growth, shifting demographics, and a preference for urban living are some of the factors that continue to drive this sector.

Addressing the need for more affordable housing also remains a top priority. We’re seeing municipalities continue to leverage transit-oriented development (TOD) incentives  to encourage redevelopment in key urban areas, creating more affordable housing options and enhancing accessibility to transportation hubs.

Finally, the office conversion trend is anticipated to persist. As industrial conversions begin to taper off, we are seeing a shift towards mixed-use developments, especially in transit-oriented locations.

see related: urban downtowns: leading the way in office-to-residential conversions

How do you see the evolution of New Jersey’s stormwater management regulations impacting development across the state?

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) continues to take steps toward making development more sustainable, especially when it comes to stormwater management measures. Projects that trigger green infrastructure requirements will need to include multiple stormwater collection points, rather than one large one. This change restricts site layout opportunities and impacts ROI.

At Bohler, we recommend a few proactive steps developers can take to stay ahead of and minimize these impacts on their ROI, including increased geotechnical due diligence and conceptual stormwater management investigations.

New Jersey has also recently implemented a statewide electric vehicle (EV) ordinance. What are you doing to help developers navigate this mandate?

Compliance with the ordinance goes beyond allocating designated parking for Make-Ready EV charging purposes. It requires thinking strategically about the location of these spaces. We help development teams assess the pros and cons of locating spaces near the entrance or near the buildings based on what works best for their specific operations. We also guide developers in leveraging the benefits of the ordinance, which include zoning relief for parking and phased buildout of the charging stations.

What challenges do you anticipate developers will face in 2024?

Land development industry professionals will continue to face increasingly long entitlement timelines and permitting challenges that can easily interrupt or sideline their projects. At Bohler, we work with development and design teams to minimize delays and control budgets — the two most important factors to maintaining momentum.

I encourage developers to engage our design team even ahead of due diligence, allowing us to help them create a systematic approach to that research process. We also recommend submitting plans to review agencies concurrently, whenever possible, to reduce the permitting timeline.

Let’s shift the focus to your team and this new opportunity. How did you come to identify a historic building for the new office space?

After a year-long search to expand Bohler’s presence across northern New Jersey, we identified a historic, transit-oriented location in the Village of Ridgewood that aligned with our staff and client experience goals. The historic nature of the Pease Building, its proximity to the NJ Transit station in Ridgewood, and the incredible walkability to downtown attracted me to this location over a traditional office park near a major highway. It’s a really cool building that operated as a library from 1923 until about 1998.


A lot of work has gone into the preservation of the Pease Building. What does it mean to you and your team to keep this building in operation?

Historic preservation of the space was definitely the primary goal.  We didn’t want to impact the existing woodwork or Italian Renaissance design. The main improvements included furniture fit-out, paint, and new flooring — although I’m proud to say that it’s nearly impossible to tell that the flooring isn’t original thanks to KSS Architects and Epic Construction. 


The central lobby remains a designated historic space, and the Village will continue to offer public library tours. This year actually marks the building’s 100-year anniversary, and we hope to do an event with the Village of Ridgewood Library Board.

Ridgewood is a one-of-a-kind Bohler office. The downtown location and proximity to the train station allow our staff to use alternate modes of transportation and enjoy the amenities the town has to offer. Keeping the historic character of this building alive not only creates an awesome working environment for the team but also upholds the importance of the building’s historic character that is important to the Village.

How do you connect with Bohler’s purpose of empowering the ambitious to become the accomplished?

I am committed to mentoring and training my team and supporting their career growth and development. That’s what motivates me and keeps me going every day. It’s very rewarding to see staff develop as the future leaders of Bohler and know that I played a part in that growth.

SEE RELATED: RISE: empowering bohler’s future leaders

For myself, the opportunity to lead the new office in Ridgewood represents empowerment. From early on in my career here, I knew that I could realize my goal of leading my own office one day.

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