Capodagli Property Co. Builds in Overlooked Communities
Capodagli Property Co. recently opened Meridia On Main, one of its Meridia Living managed properties.
When George Capodagli builds a property, he wants to make sure its residents feel like they belong in their communities. This is a feeling that the president of Capodagli Property Co. knows from his own personal experience.
Although he was born and raised in Brooklyn, his family had to move to Newark, N.J., so his father could receive care for his blindness. With little money, “We lived in tenement buildings there,” he recalls.
Over the years, Capodagli developed an affection for those communities. Today, “I’m comfortable in what’s referred to as ‘work-force housing,’” he says. “The cities for me are not foreign places.”
Capodagli continues to build in those locations to this day. Since purchasing his first building in Newark in 1970, his real-estate development, construction and property management firm has constructed several multifamily and mixed-use projects in inner city areas that are generally overlooked.
For example, when Capodagli Property Co. developed its first property in Hackensack, N.J., “No one had done anything there in 30 years,” he recalls. “Now we’re in our third project there.” The company also has sought to build quality housing so that residents can enjoy luxury while paying rents that often range from $1,500 to $2,000 per month. Today, its apartments come with wood floors, granite tops and Kohler fixtures.
“Our mission is to create and own housing for people that are comfortable living in inner cities, but can pay a reasonable amount of money,” he says, adding that it is essential that they feel safe and secure.
Today, “We install the ultimate in safety,” he says, explaining that the company has installed high-quality locks in its developments, along with systems where residents can view its security cameras on their smartphones.
“You don’t have to walk into a building and not know who is walking next to you,” Capodagli says. “If people are paying you rents, they are entitled to clean, healthy and safe living conditions.”
Capodagli’s technique for developing homes has earned him attention from various sources, including the United States Government. Recently, he met with U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson, who was impressed with his success in Opportunity Zones.
“He said, ‘How did you do this and what money did you use?’” Capodagli recalls, adding that he often funds the projects with traditional bank loans along with his own personal investment.
“Like most developers and builders, we’ve had ups and downs,” he asserts. “We’ve made sure we pay our bills.”
Meridia on Main
Capodagli Property Co. recently opened Meridia On Main, one of its Meridia Living managed properties. Located in Hackensack, the 106-unit building opened this past May. “We’re already about 88 percent occupied,” Chief Asset Officer Brian Pfistner reports. But the company is not finished providing its residents with luxuries. This January, Meridia on Main will open Cap Diner, which is the first restaurant in Capodagli’s new company, Cap Hospitality.
“It’s a farm-to-table concept, which is something you would see in Brooklyn and Manhattan,” Pfistner describes, adding that the Cap Diner will initially be open for lunch and dinner before adding a breakfast menu.
“We have a liquor license so we will have a great craft cocktail program, wine and craft beer menu,” he adds, noting that Source Farmhouse Brewery will provide the restaurant with craft beers, while Pat LaFrieda will supply Cap Diner with meats. “Pat LaFrieda is the highest quality purveyor of meats in the industry; Pat provides meat to some of the top restaurants around.”
Tenants at Meridia on Main also will have a debit card that will allow them to use credits at the restaurant, as well in the building’s fitness center and package room. But Capodagli also has plans for an addition that will bring the building closer to the community.
“What we’re looking to do is develop a CAP working space,” he describes, noting that the area will be used for inviting tenants to come in and develop their own ideas, which could be used for businesses.
“Once or twice a month, we’ll be there to facilitate what they need,” Capodagli continues. “What we’re trying to do is create an incubation so people have an atmosphere to create and develop ideas and bring them to fruition.”
The space, which also will feature pool and ping-pong tables, will help establish a community atmosphere at Meridia where people can feel like they belong. “If you create a building, you create an island,” he says. “But if you create a building and make it part of a community, you create an atmosphere.”
Listening to the Market
Next year, Capodagli Property Co. expects to bring approximately 1,000 units online. “In the next four months, 743 apartments will be delivered,” Capodagli says, noting that the company also plans to add more restaurants, laundries and dog day care businesses at its properties.
The company also will grow its diversity by opening a self-storage facility before June 2020. When choosing what to build, “The economy tells us what we need,” Capodagli says. “We’re here to serve the people.”
Capodagli Property Co. also keeps a close eye on trends when it comes to what clients look for in their homes. Today, “[They really want] smaller units,” he says, noting that they spend less time at home.
“The local areas are their living rooms,” he continues. “The streets are their environment, so we’re finding that building big palatial living rooms and kitchens are not resonating with them.”
Capodagli Property Co. has learned about these trends through its surveying and research. “Small is best,” he says. “That’s resonating with everybody.”
The Next Generation
Capodagli Property Co. will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. After all these years, Capodagli still remains enthusiastic about the business. “It’s my passion and it’s my job,” he says.
He sees a strong future for his company, which will branch out further into other markets. “I believe the next big evolution is going to be senior rentals in the inner cities,” he says, explaining that these will be for senior citizens who want to pay $1,500 to $2,500 in rents.
But these tenants also will want to live in vibrant areas where they can regularly engage in activities. “That would probably be the next generation of what’s going to happen,” he says.
Capodagli Property Co. also is at work on housing for both middle-class and impoverished seniors that would allow them to move from older buildings in high crime areas. “I believe God gave everybody talents and he wants us to use them to help people,” he says.
“I believe that with my whole heart and that resonates with a lot of people in the company,” Capodagli says. “Hopefully, we’ll do much better things to help.”