By Eric Peterson of

NEWARK-The Newark Real Estate Board, founded at the end of World War I but largely dormant for the past two decades, is back in business. The group has been around in name only for most of that hiatus, but it’s now back in full swing, backed by some of the Garden State’s top real estate figures.

“The NREB is devoted to promoting continued economic investment and development in New Jersey’s largest city,” reads a statement issued by the group. And the reformation comes at a time when the city’s real estate and economic climate has decidedly taken a turn for the better, headed by a new $310-million arena for the NHL’s New Jersey Devils franchise and a surrounding redevelopment zone.

“With more than a billion dollars’ worth of development initiatives currently under way or planned for Newark, now is the most critical time in the city’s history for it to capitalize on the renewed sense of enthusiasm for the future,” says Edward Rytter, the group’s executive director. “We look forward to working closely with the new Booker administration to ensure that this window of opportunity and investment has a positive and lasting impact.”

Mayor Cory Booker took over from long-time Mayor Sharpe James last year. “As we work to rekindle the spirit of change and development in the city and continue to build in a coordinated way, I’m pleased and gratified to see that the Newark Real Estate Board has been re-formed,” Booker says in a prepared statement. “I look forward to working closely with these business leaders in accelerating the pace of redevelopment in downtown.”

As far as those top real estate figures behind the restarting of NREB, the founding members of the new board include Jerry Gottesman, chairman of Edison Properties; Arthur Stern, president and CEO of Cogswell Realty Group; Emmanuel Stern, president and COO of Hartz Mountain Industries; and Joseph Taylor, president and CEO of Matrix Development Group.

Also behind the new board are Stan Gale, vice chairman of the Gale Real Estate Services Co.; Marc Berson, chairman of the Fidelco Group; Chip Hallock, president and CEO of the Newark Regional Business Partnership; Ted Zangari, an attorney with the locally based firm of Sills Cummis Epstein & Gross; Michael Rachlin of Michael Rachlin & Co.; and Manuel Teixeira, CEO of the locally based Portuguese Baking Co. NREB executive director Rytter is also a vice president of Prudential Insurance, which has its headquarters here.