Chris Christie to Tap Tax Break With Real Estate Fund

(Bloomberg) -- Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his wife have co-founded a real estate fund to invest in northeastern U.S. properties, taking advantage of tax incentives created by President Donald Trump.

The fund is operating with Hampshire Cos., a Morristown, New Jersey-based investment firm whose chairman is Jon F. Hanson II, a political ally of the two-term governor and failed Republican presidential candidate. Mary Pat Christie, a former Angelo Gordon & Co. investment director, is executive vice president of the fund and her husband is a senior adviser, according to Hanson.

Chris Christie to Tap Tax Break With Real Estate Fund

Hampshire Christie Qualified Opportunity Fund LLC will target designated opportunity zones, under a program created by the 2017 federal tax overhaul intended to help economically distressed areas. Investors in those properties are subject to reduced capital-gains taxes. Among the Hampshire Christie fund’s projects are residential buildings in Hackensack, New Jersey, that should help revive the city’s downtown, Hanson said.

The former governor “has the various connections as well as insights on New Jersey communities where we might pursue various investments, as well as other places” familiar to him as the former chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Hanson said by telephone. The fund is relying on Mary Pat Christie’s business-development experience, he said. “She’s the one we’re meeting with.”

He declined to discuss fundraising. Plans for the fund were reported earlier Thursday by the Wall Street Journal.

Affordable Housing

Mary Pat Christie said New Jersey is attractive in part because it’s in the New York metropolitan area and is among U.S. states with the greatest share of millennials living with their parents -- 47% of those ages 18-34, according to Census Bureau data.

“So clearly there’s not affordable housing,” she said by telephone. Empty-nesters seeking smaller homes also leave the state, she said. The fund’s buildings will have concierge service, workout rooms and other in-demand luxury amenities, she said.

There are more than 8,700 eligible opportunity zones across the U.S., most of them disadvantaged areas in need of investment. Investors claim tax breaks by taking capital-gains income they’ve earned previously and spending it in the distressed areas. The provision allows them to defer those tax bills until the end of 2026, and it can reduce the total amount of tax they owe.

Critics of the opportunity zone program have questioned whether the funds would simply accelerate gentrification in certain communities or go to developers who would have gone ahead with projects anyway.

Chris Christie was ousted as an early transition team leader for Trump, though he continues to be an ally of the president. Since leaving the governor’s office, he has written a book, become a contributor to ABC News and maintains what his wife described as a limited law practice.

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