A bill on Governor Murphy’s desk for possible enactment into law would add yet another burden on commercial property owners. This time it’s an effort to create a public database of all vacant commercial space available in the state for lease or purchase. Legislators have touted this initiative (Senate Bill 3286/Assembly Bill 4750) as a tool to help New Jersey’s small businesses in “locating storefronts,” but what does it mean for commercial property owners?

Under the proposed legislation, the owner of every commercial property in the state—presumably affecting retail, office and industrial space despite the bill’s reference to the creation of a “storefront” registry— would be required to notify the New Jersey Business Action Center (“BAC”) whenever a commercial space “becomes available” and “no person or entity is presently scheduled to lease or purchase the property.” In addition, the property owner would have to notify the BAC again when such space becomes re-occupied. The bill directs the Secretary of State to require this information but is silent on penalties for non-compliance. 

The information supplied by property owners would be supplemented by data provided by realtors and municipalities, updated by BAC on a monthly basis, and made available on the BAC’s website. According to the bill, the database would include the following information:

  • the square footage of the vacant commercial space;
  • the capital equipment included in the vacant commercial space; and
  • the building systems installed in the vacant commercial space, including fire alarms, fire suppression systems, security systems, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

While the legislation is well-intentioned, commercial property owners already have a natural motivation to fill vacant spaces as quickly as possible. And they use every imaginable means of getting word out about upcoming leasing or sale opportunities, starting with the state’s incredible commercial brokerage network and something as basic as a “for sale” or “for lease” window sign. Why, then, we must wonder, does the State need to expend taxpayer resources to compile and keep updated a massive amount of information that’s already widely disseminated and readily available to businesses of all sizes in existing online databases?

To view S-3286/A-4750, please click here.