Morristown’s planning consultants spread their wings, fly solo

During last fall’s re-election campaign, Mayor Tim Dougherty cited the hiring of the planning firm Jonathan Rose Companies among his proudest achievements.

Going forward, he’ll have to amend that to Topology NJ.

Two leading members of the Jonathan Rose local team, Daniel Hernandez and Phil Abramson, have left the firm to start Topology NJ, their own consulting venture.

phil abramson, daniel hernandez , joe stanley

Phil Abramson, left, and Daniel Hernandez, center, have formed a new planning company called Topology, which has been hired by Morristown. In this file photo, they are addressing the planning board; member Joe Stanley listens. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

On Tuesday the town council voted 6-0 to retain them as town planners, for the same $150,000 annual fee that the town had paid Jonathan Rose Companies.

Both men have been heavily involved in the ongoing revision of the town’s zoning master plan, scheduled for a public hearing on Jan. 23, 2014.

They have solicited public suggestions at special meetings and online, as part of a process dubbed Morristown Moving Forward.

And they helped snag $2.1 million in grants for the town purchase of land for Grow It Green’s Early Street Community Garden and another $354,000 to create a park on Hillcrest Avenue.

“We hope you think we’ve been a good return on your investment,” Phil told the council.

“They’re fabulous,” the Mayor said after the vote.

“Daniel Hernandez and Phil Abramson are two extremely important assets to  present and future planning in the town of Morristown. They understand planning. They listen to the community and take their input. I have the utmost respect for their talent. We’re very fortunate to have them on staff with their new company.”

Daniel and Phil said they decided to leave Jonathan Rose, where they worked together for more than four years, because the New York-based company is shifting its business focus away from urban planning.

“The two friends and colleagues knew that the next step in their careers was to create their own firm to carry forward their commitments to planning and developing great places,” they said in a joint statement.

They will continue to collaborate on projects with Jonathan Rose Companies, they said. Daniel had been managing director of that firm’s planning practice; before that he served as director of its development practice.

“We are very excited about places and projects that create value — where people want to live, work, and play,” the entrepreneurs said.
“Our work is centered around bringing the pieces of the puzzle together – financing, planning, real estate discipline and community development, to create places that are healthy, socially dynamic, economically strong, and beautiful.  Topology will bring to Morristown strong real estate skills, diligent project management, and a commitment to working with communities and their elected officials.”
Other Topology clients, they said, include Milton L. Ehlrich Inc.; the Irish Arts Center of New York City; the New York City Economic Development Corporation; the city of Yonkers, New York; Enterprise Community Partners; the city of Memphis, Tennessee, and the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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