Hoboken-based Fields Development has grown from a one-town outfit to one of the most prolific developers in the tri-state area. In the following Q&A, principal Jim Caulfield outlines how treating third party projects like their own has helped Fields expand into secondary markets …
Q: Fields Construction is one of the most active construction companies on New Jersey’s Gold Coast. Can you tell us how this came to be?
My brother, Robert, and I grew up surrounded by development and design — our grandfather and father were both civil engineers in Hoboken — and we entered the third-party construction business ourselves in the late 1990s.
Shortly thereafter, we entered the development arena and, within a few years, we’d raised a fund that enabled us to develop about 10 condo projects.
Today, our development arm has more than 400 apartments under construction, including projects in Hoboken and Jersey City, plus another 1,000 projected to start by 2018.
By 2004, when Hoboken and neighboring Jersey City were in the midst of a residential building boom, what had become the in-house construction division of Fields Development Group morphed into a new business opportunity altogether.
As our development company grew, we also grew Fields Construction, which became known for its ability to manage costs and approaching third-projects like we would approach our own.
Our construction arm continued to flourish, leading us to expand our services from just ground-up residential into commercial, hospitality and residential rehabs.
Today, not only are we developing for ourselves, but we’re building structures for many of the most active developers in the market — many of whom we might consider our competitors.
Q: In addition to the NJ Gold Coast, Fields has begun to take on projects in other markets. In what other parts of the NY Metro Area are you seeing opportunity.
Our footprint now touches seven cities in New Jersey and Stamford, Connecticut, and we’re exploring projects in South Jersey and Pennsylvania.
We think Stamford, Harrison, N.J., and Asbury Park, N.J. are emerging residential markets that do not have an established general contractor/construction manager with our track record.
Our goal is we to become that preferred contractor in those markets, where we also see development opportunities.
In total, we’re building more than 2,000 apartment units and one hotel. That pipeline has allowed us to expand beyond Hoboken and Jersey City.
Q: What kind of product do you foresee coming to market in these areas? Are there barriers to entry that must be overcome?
We’ll continue to see the residential boom that we’ve witnessed for the past few years.
We also expect to see more activity from clients that have a lot of commercial space inside their developments; we’re starting an interior division that will be specifically focused on handling those fit-outs.
Ultimately, we’re highly invested in the continued strength of accessible (both financially and physically) communities that provide amenities that promote a high quality of life. We firmly believe that an essential component will be proximity to mass transportation.
In terms of barriers, the cost of construction continues to rise, creating a challenge that some developers will find hard to overcome.
This is where we can assist our clients who need construction management services, who need help controlling costs and quality and ensuring that the final outcome matches the design.
It’s essential that developers adapt to shifting costs without sacrificing lifestyle-oriented amenities in commercial or residential buildings.
Q: Besides expanding into new markets, what is your vision for Fields Construction moving forward?
Fields Construction is on pace to grow an estimated 10 to 15 percent annually for the foreseeable future. We think this can be achieved by remaining committed to developing long-term relationships, and growing the company pipeline as our clients do the same.
It’s important to us to be disciplined in the growth of our construction business; we value the mutual relationship with our fellow developers, who entrust us with an extremely large financial commitment from capital partners.