George Kimmerle, founder, president, and partner of Kimmerle Group, discusses a design plan in his firm’s Harding Township, NJ office. (Steve Lubetkin photo/StateBroadcastNews.com)
Editor’s Note: This article has been revised since publication. A correction at the bottom of the story details the changes.
HARDING TOWNSHIP, NJ—After four decades in business, George Kimmerle looks back in satisfaction on a long, successful run as an architect, but he’s not packing up his drafting tools and calling it a career.
In fact, the founder, president and partner of Kimmerle Group is taking his firm in what might seem to be unconventional directions for its long-time clients.
Besides designing office space and redevelopment projects for clients, Kimmerle Group has been acting as a de facto real estate department for many clients.
“As leases turn, we’re in every major market in the country,” Kimmerle told GlobeSt.com during a recent visit to his firm’s sustainable Harding Township office. “We’re expanding the scope of what we do from not just real estate planning and construction but into the whole project management side, the whole furniture and equipment side, so that a corporate can come to us and say ‘we have a sole source vendor that we can rely on to execute. So there are probably a good half dozen to a dozen that we do that for all over the country.”
Kimmerle works with retained brokerage companies on projects for mutual clients, but the firm added Patrick Luzzi as a managing director last year to develop real estate investment opportunities. Luzzi had had been CBRE’s broker of record in New Jersey for 10 years. Now, Kimmerle says, the firm can take on real estate investment assignments directly.
One recent assignment reflects the firm’s broad move into project management. Last year, the firm’s Kimmerle Newman Architects unit worked with Johnson & Johnson on the pharmaceutical company’s 449,000-square-foot headquarters located at 1 Johnson & Johnson Plaza in New Brunswick, NJ, through nine separate projects, seven of which are now complete.
The firm’s consistent success on the office design and project side has given Kimmerle an opportunity to refocus on one of his first passions, urban design and planning.
He’s been teaching as an adjunct professor at NYU’s Schack Institute of Real Estate and Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Urban Planning and Public Policy. At the Bloustein School, he is completing a Ph.D., with a special concentration on community building, branding and institutional realignment for economic development.
“I’m completely invested in that,” he says.
Putting his money where his passions lay, about five years ago, the firm opened an office in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. “That was really about taking on that whole issue of urban redevelopment and planning,” he says, “not just in an academic sense, but also in a professional sense.”
From the Chelsea office at West 20th and 6th Avenue, Kimmerle has taken on projects to reposition and redevelop buildings throughout New York.
In the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, NY, the firm is providing architectural and design services for the renovation of 47-37 Austell Place. The renovation will transform the historic four-story industrial/warehouse structure into 175,000 square feet of class A office space.
Kimmerle’s design takes advantage of zoning regulations to expand the building by two floors, and will include renovating the lobby.
“It’s a significant urban artifact that is going to be rebuilt and refit,” Kimmerle says. It’s also kind of a beacon of what’s going on in all the five boroughs.”
Using his urban planning expertise, Kimmerle is working on a complex land use master plan, involving a university and a hospital, reorganizing air rights so that the two institutions can monetize them, using the funds to build classrooms, laboratories, and other needed infrastructure, Kimmerle says.
“It’s the dynamic of zoning and in-place assets, leveraged against the other, to complete the institution’s mission,” he says.
Last year, Kimmerle gained recognition for this evolution of the firm, when it was selected Firm of the Year by the New Jersey AIA chapter.
“It has been wonderful to see Kimmerle Group venture beyond the conventional practice of architecture,” says AIA-NJ President Ben Lee.
Correction, 6/13/2017, 3:59 p.m.: This article has been revised to reflect the following updates. All of these changes were made with respect to an earlier verision of the story published here.
George Kimmerle was quoted listing “leasing” among the services the firm provides. The firm does not provide leasing services except in the medical industry .
In the interview for this story, Kimmerle also described the hiring of Patrick Luzzi as enabling the firm to move to the next level on real estate assignments. He meant to describe “real estate investment assignments in the medical field.”
The story incorrectly described the firm as working on Johnson & Johnson’s “master plan project” for its headquarters. The Kimmerle assignment did not involve a master plan project.
The story previously included information about a project in Westchester based on a press release provided to GlobeSt.com. The press release was subsequently withdrawn, but GlobeSt.com was not aware the release had been withdrawn.
A description of the 47-37 Austell Place project was based on information from Kimmerle Group’s website, but that information included inaccuracies. The project is a mixed-use setting that does not include specific ground floor retail amenities at this time, and it is not expected to be completed in July 2017.
Because of an editing error, the article described an additional two floors being added to the project because of “a novel use of air rights.” The floors were added because of zoning regulations permitting it.