Friday, July 29, 2016

Philadelphia Strong Leasing While Southern NJ Office Leasing Declines

by Steve Lubetkin,
The slow-down in commercial leasing activity in Southern New Jersey that began late last year may have been the beginning of a trend. However, office and retail remained strong in the Philadelphia market just across the river from New Jersey’s Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester Counties.

Office leasing totals in the three South Jersey counties were down significantly compared to the same period last year, and were lower than the already slower first quarter.

About 252,000 square feet of new leases and renewals were executed in the three counties surveyed, a decline of 23 percent compared with the first quarter of the year. The quarter saw an increase in prospecting, with about 250,000 square feet of lease deals in the pipeline and expected to close in the near term. Still, the trend of positive absorption continued – and improved over the previous quarter – making up approximately 206,000 square feet of total activity. Vacancy rates posted slight increases, but several large assets changed hands as owners repositioned and new investors entered our market.

However, mixed with this bad news were positive signs in the continued high level of activity in the investment and sales market, and an uptick in leasing in Cherry Hill and Voorhees. Overall, caution and uncertainty seem to be guiding factors.

“Several unknowns began influencing the markets during the second quarter – from the possible impact of the Brexit vote to the coming U.S. presidential election. Businesses are trying to figure out how their plans may be impacted by the uncertainties, but we still believe the overall outlook is still strong.”

Other office market highlights from the report:

Overall vacancy in the market is now approximately 11.85%.

Average rents for class A and B product continue to show strong support in the range of $10-$14 per square foot on a triple-net basis, or $20-$24 gross for the deals completed during the quarter. This is essentially unchanged from the previous two quarters.

All of the major private owners and REITS showed moderate leasing and prospect activity for the quarter – with Burlington County vacancies tightening up, many larger vacancy opportunities are also shifting towards Camden County, which is not controlled by these ownership entities.

New Jersey’s unemployment rate moved higher for the first time in more than a year, coming in at 4.9 percent. Like the national economic recovery, the New Jersey recovery appears to be experiencing a slight pause.

Highlights from the second quarter in Pennsylvania include:

Although not as pronounced as other “gateway markets”, the Philadelphia CBD office market is attracting attention from international institutional investors. Notable investments include the Korean Investment Fund’s acquisition of Cira Square at 2970 Market Street for $354 million from Brandywine Realty Trust and 1700 Market Street from Shorenstein Properties for $195 million.

Other transactions in progress are commanding all-time-low capitalization rates from some Middle East equity investors.
Beyond the CBD, the suburban market has been extremely active, including Saint Gobain’s headquarters facility, which sold for $123 million at a sub-6 percent capitalization rate. Additionally, Liberty Property Trust announced a master-planned redevelopment in Camden, involving 1.75 million SF of office, parking garages, hotel, and apartments.

There has been a flurry of favorable retail activity in the regional market in 2016. Some major projects include PREIT’s sale of three core CBD retail properties to Post Brothers for $45 million at a sub-4 percent capitalization rate, RIOCan REIT’s planned sale of 49 retail properties located throughout the Northeast, with many in the Philadelphia region, for $1.9 billion. In addition to these core assets, there is significant development of net leased properties, including Wawa/Sheetz/Royal Farms convenience stores, as well as a variety of other retailers. Finally, retail is filling in many of the ground floor spaces of multi-use properties and commanding some of the all-time highest rental rates seen thus far.

The industrial market is still experiencing strong activity, with increases in pricing and rental rates. One of the most significant transactions of the second quarter was the Target E-Commerce Distribution Center in York, PA, which fetched $60 million or $76 per square foot. While the appetite for core class A assets continues to be strong, pricing for multi-tenanted flex assets is demonstrating great appeal and marketability.
 Southern New Jersey retail market has had mixed results there, as well. Highlights from the retail section of the report include:

Overall retail sales and spending dropped during the second quarter, after an already underwhelming performance in the first quarter.
Retail vacancy in Camden County stood at 10.5 percent, with average rents in the range of $11.89 per square foot, triple-net.
Retail vacancy in Burlington County stood at 14.8 percent, with average rents in the range of $12.21 per square foot, triple-net.
Retail vacancy in Gloucester County stood at 6.4 percent, with average rents in the range of $12.00 per square foot, triple-net.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ethos Leases 28,000 SF in Yardley

Ethos Health Communications, a health communications company, signed a lease for 28,016 square feet in the office building at 777 Township Line Rd. in Yardley, PA.

The three-story, 110,000-square-foot building was built in 2006 by Liberty Property Trust. Other tenants in this building include UPenn Health System, Good Shepard Penn Partners and Stark & Stark.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

U.S. Office Sector Enjoys Steady Q2 Leasing Momentum Even as Rent Growth Slows, Sales Stall

The U.S. office market continued its steady momentum in the second quarter, recording 39.4 million square feet of net absorption in the first six months of 2016, nearly equaling the 40.2 million square feet absorbed during the record-setting first half of last year.

The U.S. office vacancy rate ticked down another 15 basis points to 10.6% in the second quarter of 2016, well below the long-term historical vacancy rate of 11.3%. CoStar analysts expect the office vacancy rate to continue trending lower before bottoming out at around 10.2% in 2018, about the same as lowest point of the last real estate cycle.

"Basically, we expect to have two more years of occupancy recovery in the office market," noted Walter Page, CoStar's director of office research, who presented the Mid-Year 2016 Office Review and Forecast along with Hans Nordby, managing director for CoStar Portfolio Strategy and CoStar senior real estate economist Paul Leonard.

Several markets showed marked improvement at mid-year, including ones that were previously struggling, such as Phoenix, which posted positive absorption of 3.4 million square feet.

In Seattle, which has enjoyed a particularly strong run, Amazon's ongoing expansion helped drive 3.1 million square feet in net absorption. Even Washington DC saw a welcome return of strength in the second quarter after several years of flat demand growth. The D.C. office market absorbed a respectable 2.3 million square feet over the last four quarters.

"Finally, we’re starting to see some momentum in the D.C. marketplace, which should allow the vacancy numbers to start inching downward," said Page.

There were several notable exceptions. The energy sector slowdown and corporate relocations related to the completion of several pending build-to-suit projects played a role in Houston and Dallas, which recorded absorption declines of 2.4 million and 3.7 million square feet, respectively, since mid-year 2015. San Francisco, Raleigh, Boston and San Diego also logged declines due to a variety of factors.

But for the most part, the vast majority of office submarkets -- 66% -- saw their office vacancy decline in the second quarter, and more than half of all U.S. office submarkets have a lower vacancy rate than during the previous market peak in 2006-2007.

Demand for High Quality Space Resulting in Limited Supply

In a theme seen in many markets across the country, the supply of available space in newer, higher-quality office buildings is becoming increasingly limited. With relatively little new development in the pipeline based on historical levels, only about 81 million square feet of space is available today in buildings constructed over the last 10 years.

That total is less than half the 167 million square feet of vacant newer space that was available in 2007, according to CoStar's analysis.

"While there are some exceptions where plenty of high quality, new office space remains available, such as Houston and Washington, DC, for the most part we're really tight on nice, new space," noted Page.

As evidence, Page noted that the vacancy rate for 4- and 5-Star office properties remained unchanged at 11.7%, despite the fact that 90% of the new office space added to the market falls into that category.

Suburban office markets also continued to see increasing activity as large blocks of high-quality space become harder to find -- and more expensive -- in most major markets, with the exception of Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and Atlanta, where large blocks of downtown space remain readily available.

"Part of the story is that it’s now the suburbs’ turn in the cycle, and part of it is that the CBDs were so successful earlier in the recovery cycle that there’s no place left to grow," Nordby said.

As investors begin to focus on which markets are the most recession-resistant in the later innings of the recovery, certain niches such as medical office space stand out, Nordby said.

Demand growth is nearly twice as strong for medical office as for regular office, and over the long term, medical office has grown at about 1.3% annual rate compared to 0.7% for the broader office market, Page said. The medical office sector, which has never had negative demand growth, even during the two recessionary periods since 2000, had a midyear vacancy rate of 8% compared to the broader market's 10.6%.

Office construction stayed flat in the second quarter at about 130 million square feet under way, due in part of a large decline in Houston. But building activity is still slightly above its long-term average of 125 million square feet, with increased construction in D.C. and Atlanta, among other metros.

Some Cautionary Yellow Flags

While leasing and absorption levels remain robust and construction still well below historic levels, the U.S. office market did see some cautionary flags in the second quarter, including a big slowdown in office sales activity and the beginning of a slowdown in rent growth.

CoStar is projecting office rent growth will likely finish the year at an average of 3.4% and decelerate to the low 3% range over the next year. As with all trends, there will likely be a few exceptions, including the Nashville, Atlanta and Florida markets, where lower rents earlier in the cycle have limited construction. Also, rent growth in CBDs is expected to continue to outpace suburban markets.

Meanwhile, reflecting declines across all the property types, the volume of office sales completed in the first half of 2016 declined compared to the same period one year earlier, according to preliminary CoStar data.

"It's a worry," Nordby said. "A decrease in transaction volume generally portends a decrease or at least a flattening in prices."

And in another historical sign of softening demand, rising levels of surplus space placed on the sublease market by tenants, is rising in a few markets. In Houston, the contraction of large energy tenants has caused sublet space to balloon to more than 3.5% of total inventory. Companies such as Shell, ConocoPhillips, and BP have each put 500,000 square feet on the sublet market in recent quarters.

Equus Pays $32M For Class-A Office Building In Berwyn, PA

by Steve Lubetkin,
Equus Investment Partnership X, a discretionary fund managed by Equus Capital Partners, paid $32.1 million to a joint venture of Brandywine Realty Trust and Realen for 1000 Chesterbrook Boulevard, a three-story class-A office building totaling 172,327 square feet located in Berwyn, PA, in the King of Prussia/Wayne submarket of Philadelphia, PA. The price was confirmed by Real Capital Analytics, a proprietary research firm.

“1000 Chesterbrook has long been considered one of suburban Philadelphia’s trophy office buildings and appeals to tenants seeking best of class space in the Western Suburbs,” says George Haines, Vice President of Equus. “With our strategic plan of enhancing certain building features and activating common areas coupled with 1000 Chesterbrook Boulevard’s proximity to the region’s most affluent towns, best school districts, and new retail attractions, we are confident that this asset will have significant appeal to the marketplace.” Haines, along with Joseph F. Felici, acquisitions manager and Timothy Feron, acquisitions analyst, oversaw the transaction for Equus.

The property was 92 percent-leased at the time of acquisition.

1000 Chesterbrook Boulevard was built in 1999 and occupies 12.7 acres. Equus plans to spend approximately $2 million on renovations to the lobby and enhancement of amenity spaces.  The building currently has a greater-than-market parking ratio of 4.4 spaces per 1,000 square-feet with approximately 75 percent of the existing parking spaces within a parking garage.

1000 Chesterbrook Boulevard is at the interchange of Routes 202 and 252, just five miles south of the intersection of I-76, US Route 202, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and US Route 422. The King of Prussia/Wayne office market, which is 20 miles northwest of Center City Philadelphia, is the region’s largest suburban office submarket.  This submarket also benefits from its convenient access to Philadelphia’s prestigious “Main Line,” one of the most sought-after residential communities in the country. Additionally, 1000 Chesterbrook is within a 10-minute drive of one of the nation’s most notable retail destinations, the King of Prussia Mall (second-largest mall in the US) as well as the newly-developed King of Prussia Town Center.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Big Buyer Revealed for Liberty Property Trust Portfolio

It turns out the big buyer with which Liberty Property Trust said it was in discussions for a sizable portion of its suburban office and flex is a familiar name.

Workspace Property Trust said it has finalized an agreement to buy 108 office and flex buildings in four states from Liberty Property for approximately $969 million. Led by industry veterans Thomas Rizk and Roger Thomas, Workplace is the same firm that purchased 41 office and flex buildings in Horsham, PA from Liberty Property at the end of 2015 for approximately $245.3 million. At the time, Workspace said the acquisition marked the beginning of a strategic plan to build a portfolio of suburban real estate assets in the Northeast U.S.

Workspace is bringing in global principal investment firm Safanad as its partner on the acquisition, which is expected to close late in the third quarter of this year. The deal will boost Workspace's total portfolio to approximately 9.9 million square feet consisting of 149 properties in five markets.

Properties included in the upcoming acquisition total 7.6 million square feet and are located in Arizona, Florida, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. The portfolio is 88.9% and breaks out by property type as 5.1 million square feet of office space, 2.1 million square feet of industrial/flex space and 406,678 square feet of warehouse/distribution space.

In addition, the Arizona and Florida portfolios include nearly 27 acres of developable land.

Portfolio being acquired from Liberty Property Trust
Market         Bldgs.      Sq. Ft.
Arizona             14 1,078,652 (and 18.1 acres)
Minnesota     19 1,488,832
Pennsylvania     30 2,075,764
South Florida      11 1,136,020 (and 8.6 acres)
Tampa              34 1,799,568
Source: Workspace Property Trust

Workspace Property Trust is a partnership between Rizk Ventures, Forum Partners, JMP Group and EverWatch Capital. WPT CEO and founding principal Thomas Rizk is the former president and chief executive of Mack-Cali Realty Corp. Thomas was part of the original team under Rizk that took Cali Associates public in 1994. At Mack-Cali, Thomas served as executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary.

"We are excited about entering into this new relationship with Safanad and this acquisition represents the next step of our strategic plan to build a portfolio of high quality, well-positioned suburban real estate assets," Rizk said in announcing the $969 million acquisition agreement.

Safanad is a global principal investment firm with offices in New York, Dubai and London. Last year, Safanad backed student housing developer Aspen Heights to acquire newly developed student housing properties at large universities as part of a $400 million agreement to recapitalize a portfolio of student housing properties owned by Aspen Heights and its investment partners.

"At Safanad, we align ourselves with experienced industry partners through carefully selected investments," said Kamal Bahamdan, the investment fund's founder and CEO. "We are looking forward to working with Tom, Roger and the rest of the Workspace team who have extensive experience and a distinguished track record of creating value in suburban office markets."

At the time of its first acquisition from Liberty, Rizk said he saw a similar opportunity for the suburban market when he took Mack-Cali public. "There are some interesting parallels between the current market environment and when I originally deployed a similar strategy after taking Cali Realty public in 1994," he said. "We intend to use our deep relationships and strong market knowledge to aggressively pursue both marketed and non-marketed transactions," adding the firm planned to target transit-oriented assets located in near-city submarkets within the Northeast corridor.

For Liberty, the sale marks a major step in its ongoing strategy launched in 2011 to reposition its portfolio away from suburban office and flex holdings in favor of industrial property and new development.

PREIT Advances Mall Portfolio Upgrade with Deal to Sell 2 Properties; Decision to Market Another

Philadelphia-based mall owner PREIT continues to implement its strategy to upgrade its portfolio. The REIT has executed sale agreements and received non-refundable deposits for both the Washington Crown Center in Washington, PA, and the office building it owns at Voorhees Town Center in the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia.

The 676,000-square-foot Washington Crown Center in Washington, PA, is anchored by Bon-Ton, Macy's, Gander Mountain and Sears. As of March 31, 2016, the property generated sales per square foot of $318 and non-anchor occupancy of 87.9%.

Also under contract is the 48,444-square-foot office building at 220 Laurel Road in Vorhees, NJ. The building has been listing the building for sale at $6.5 million.

Details including pricing and proceeds will be made available upon closing, the company said. The transactions are expected to close before the end of the third quarter of 2016.

The company also has decided to put its 1.12 million-square-foot Beaver Valley Mall in suburban Pittsburgh up for sale, which it has acknowledged at the worst performing mall in its portfolio. But PREIT noted the mall's fortunes could soon see a boost be due for a boost.

Shell Chemical announced earlier this summer that it will move forward with the planned development of a multi-billion dollar petrochemical complex on a site one-and-a-half miles from the mall, which is expected to bring several thousand jobs to the region. This development presents an opportunity to maximize the value of the property upon sale while preserving capital for other investments, the REIT said.

PREIT has generated proceeds in excess of $645 million from property sales since June 2012.

Greene Courte Ptnrs Purchases Senior Housing Facility in Harleysville

Westrum Development Company sold the 275-unit senior housing community known as Arbour Square to Greene Court Partners LLC for $56.2 million, or about $204,000 per unit.

The 162,504-square-foot property was built in two phases, the first in 2006 and the second completed in 2014. It will continue to be managed by Heritage Senior Living, a Pennsylvania-based company.

BankUnited CEO: No Evidence of Weak Credit Cycle (Video)

McCaffrey’s Prepares to Open 4th Fresh New Store for Blue Bell

By: Ken Knickerbocker, Montco.Today

McCaffrey’s Food Market is serving up a fresh new storefront for its Pennsylvania customers. The new McCaffrey’s in Blue Bell is the state’s fourth expansion of the Yardley original.

The 50,000-square-foot space where Super Fresh once stood on Skippack Pike will showcase McCaffrey’s signature fresh “produce, meat, seafood, cheese, deli, bakery and floral, along with an extensive selection of gourmet prepared foods,” according to a Progressive Grocer staff report.

Craft beer, crepes, globally sourced cheeses, coffee and more, including organic and exotic finds, await the Blue Bell market.

Primark Opens In At PREIT’s Willow Grove Park Mall

by Steve Lubetkin,
Primark, a European fashion retailer, has joined the tenant roster at PREIT’s Willow Grove Park Mall in the Philadelphia suburb of Willow Grove, PA. It’s the second Primark location in the Philadelphia region and the fifth in the Northeastern United States.

As previously reported by, Primark’s arrival in the mall was announced in March 2015 as part of PREIT’s strategic repositioning of the tenant mix at several of its malls.

Primark is one of the largest clothing retailers in Europe, offering up-to-the-minute styles at value-for-money prices. In Willow Grove Park Mall, the store will occupy 58,300 square feet space previously leased by Sears on the second and third floors of the southwest side of the mall.

“Retailers like Primark, delivering fashion and value that is limited to the brick-and-mortar format, are in high demand in today’s retail environment, meeting the evolving needs of consumers.  New anchors, along with a unique roster of retailers, diverse dining, entertainment and experiential offerings are the keys to success in today’s mall setting,” says PREIT (NYSE: PEI) today announced the grand opening of, CEO of PREIT. “By capitalizing on our concentration in sought-after markets, like Philadelphia, our properties attract new and exciting merchants, of which Primark’s second Philadelphia location is a prime example.”

As consumer shopping behaviors continue to fuel the evolution of the mall, PREIT is differentiating the shopper experience by bringing new, diversified tenants to its properties. Over the past several years, the company has focused on strategic anchor redevelopment, enhancing its portfolio quality with the addition of niche retailers and “retailtainment” offerings.

Earlier this year, PREIT executed a lease to bring DICK’s Sporting Goods and Field & Stream to its Viewmont Mall in Scranton, PA, as well as Round 1 Entertainment – offering billiards, ping pong and bowling – at its Exton Square Mall. Additionally, the company announced the development of a LEGOLAND Discovery Center at the Plymouth Meeting Mall, marking one of nine locations in the country and the only one in the state.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cautious on multi-family REITs: Pro (Video)

Equus Acquires 235-Unit Lehigh Valley Multifamily Community

by Steve Lubetkin,
An Equus Capital Partners affiliate, Equus Investment Partnership X, has acquired The Lakes Apartments, a 235-unit garden-style multifamily community in the desirable West End neighborhood of Allentown, PA. The price was not disclosed.

The property was 95% occupied at the time of closing. Madison Apartment Group, the multi-family operating arm of Equus, will manage the community.

“This well-known community distinguishes itself with its spacious layouts and convenient location,” says Greg Curci, vice president of Equus who oversaw the acquisition for the firm. “We look forward to delivering a product and living experience consistent with the heightened expectations of today’s renter in the Lehigh Valley.”

The community benefits from its proximity to the major interchanges of the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Northeast Extension, I-78, and the Lehigh Valley Thruway, providing access to the Philadelphia metro area, the entire Lehigh Valley, as well as northern and central New Jersey.

The Lakes is well-situated in a premier location in the heart of Allentown’s West End neighborhood which boasts strong home values, a desirable school district, and nearby retail amenities such as Wegmans, Target, and Panera Bread. With an average square footage of 1,200 square feet per unit and a mix of one bedroom and two and three bedroom flat and townhome style units, The Lakes benefits from its unique array of generous sized floorplans in a low-density setting of less than eight units per acre. Amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, walking trail, and an abundance of attractively landscaped open space.

Over the coming months, Equus will invest approximately $2.5 million to improve the common areas and amenities, as well as to complete the unit interior upgrades that were begun under the prior ownership.

Internet Commerce Drives Strongest Surge in Demand for US Industrial Space Since 2001

Prologis, the world’s largest developer and owner of industrial real estate, reported the first six months of 2016 were the strongest in its company's history as moderate levels of new supply paired with a strong appetite by e-commerce and other companies created the tightest market for tenants since the first internet boom of the early 2000s.

The San Francisco company owns or has interests in 3,347 buildings totaling 666 million square feet of property in 20 countries, including nearly 380 million square feet in the US. As such, the publicly traded REIT serves as a bellwether stock for the global warehouse and logistics market.

The REIT's same-store net operating income increased 6.1% in the second quarter, securing an average 17.8% rent increase at lease expirations while delivering $621 million in new projects. Prologis had more than $3.7 billion in cash liquidity, its highest on record.

"All in all, the last six months have been the best in our company’s history," said Hamid Moghadam, chairman and CEO of San Francisco-based Prologis (NYSE:PLD). "E-commerce and supply chain reconfiguration continue as big drivers of demand for our product. The Class A market is where the action is."

Building Fast, Leasing Faster

CRE services firms noted the increasingly limited availability of U.S. industrial space at midyear as online sellers, third-party logistics firms, food and beverage and consumer goods firms scoop up newly constructed bulk warehouses and other industrial buildings as fast as they are built.

Even though developers added 158 million square feet of new warehouse/distribution space over the past 12 months, the overall vacancy rate for industrial property continued to inch down to 5.5% as of June 30 of this year.

According to a preliminary analysis by CoStar of midyear logistics and industrial property leasing data, that’s nearly 2 percentage points lower than the 2004-2007 expansion cycle, and within a few basis points of the lowest vacancy rate for industrial property since the Internet-driven demand boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

CRE Research expects the global economy will continue to sustain demand for industrial space.

“While we’ve had some shocks to the global economy, the U.S. economy still is moving along at a slow and steady space and that will sustain industrial demand. Retail sales have been above expectations, posting pretty strong gains in April and May. That will help both the retail and industrial sectors.”

More than 210.5 million square feet of industrial space was absorbed by tenants over the last year, according to CoStar. The nearly 46.9 million square feet of net absorption in the second quarter, while down just under 10% from a year earlier, remains consistent with the average pace of demand growth throughout the long expansion, said CoStar Senior Real Estate Economist Shaw Lupton, in a preview of the company's midyear industrial market review and forecast webinar scheduled for July 28.

Editor's Note: For expert analysis of commercial property markets, CoStar subscribers can register for CoStar's Q2 State of the CRE Market 2016 Review & Forecast webinars for the office (7/21), industrial (7/28), retail (8/4) and apartment (8/11) sectors by logging on and clicking the Knowledge Center tab.

"On balance, we expect the remainder of 2016 to produce solid results for logistics and light industrial owners, driven by healthy real estate fundamentals and continued, albeit gradual, economic expansion," Lupton said.

Spec Rises, but 'Developer Discipline' is Not an Oxymoron'

While the bulk of new construction consists of largescale build-to-suit projects for e-commerce giants such as Amazon, developers also increased speculative construction nearly 13.5% in the second quarter, with 36.3% of the new space preleased, more than double the preleasing rate in fourth-quarter 2015.

Tight market conditions caused average rents to balloon by 6.8%, the strongest rent expansion rate of the current cycle, according to CoStar data. Aggregate rent gains have totaled roughly 20% since mid-2011, providing leverage for industrial landlords just as leases signed five years ago expire and roll up to current market rates, Lupton noted.

"I've been doing this for over 30 years and I have never seen an environment where customers have been as willing to share with us their strategic plans for growth, and asking us to build more product. They used to play their cards pretty close to their vests. (But now) they're asking us to build more spec product."

What's more, Prologis executives said they were surprised that the ongoing demand has not triggered the usual over-response from developers.
"Frankly, I haven't seen this happen before in my career - markets got close to an overbuilding situation or maybe a little over the line, and they've corrected," said Gene Reilly, CEO for the Americas at Prologis. "We've got to watch this every day. But we continue to be very pleased with the overall discipline." 

Reilly said that when U.S. markets reach supply/demand balance, expected some time in 2017, vacancy rates will be at all-time lows, with plenty of room for landlords to push rents. 

"I'm probably slightly more bullish than I had been in the past in the U.S.," Reilly said. 

The magnitude of ramped-up developement over the past two years has has been lower than expected, despite strong demand.

"Almost all markets have available land controlled by developers. Their decision to go spec rather than wait for a build-to-suit is the critical variable, and the statistics indicate that 'developer discipline' is not an oxymoron." 

Market Standouts

Southern California's Inland Empire assumed its customary position as the top U.S. construction market for industrial space withh 10 million square feet added in the second quarter, nearly 30% of which was preleased. 

Dallas is expected to add another 4.2 million square feet of industrial space in the second half of the year, while Atlanta led all metros in terms of net absorption with tenants filling just under 11 million square feet in the second quarter.

Moghadam said global events such as Britain’s withdrawal from the EU pose the greatest risk to worldwide demand for industrial real estate, but so far, the impact of the Brexit on Prologis operations has been minimal. 

“We're confident in the resilience of the logistics real estate business, but we remain vigilant and on the lookout for any signs of trouble,” he said. “Elsewhere around the globe, market conditions remain strong and steady. Overall, the supply and demand picture is in great shape, with all time low vacancy rates. Demand is driven by steady growth in consumption, e-commerce and supply chain modernization.”

Presidential Realty Cuts Deal To Acquire First Capital Real Estate Trust

Presidential Realty Corp., an over the counter traded New York-based REIT, executed a letter of intent to acquire substantially all of the assets of First Capital Real Estate Trust in exchange for newly issued shares of Presidential.

"This transaction further advances our liquidity plan,” said Suneet Singal, CEO of First Capital.

The liquidity plan was outlined last month when Forum Partners, a London-based global real estate investment and asset management firm, agreed to make a capital infusion to First Capital Real Estate Investments LLC, sponsor of the non-traded REIT.

That agreement was structured in three phases. In the first phase, First Capital acquired the remaining interests in First Capital Real Estate Advisors formerly held by real estate investor Jacob Frydman for an undisclosed amount.

The second phase was to be this liquidation of First Capital Real Estate Trust.

And the next and final step is for Forum to expand First Capital Real Estate Investments’ assets under management.

First Capital Real Estate Trust currently owns the following properties:
Tilden House at 2520 Tilden Ave. in Brooklyn, New York, a 117-unit special shelter;
A 44,323-square-foot medical office building at 945 82nd Parkway Myrtle Beach, SC; and
A 90,070-square-foot office building at 7 Carnegie Plaza in Cherry Hill, NJ.

The price Presidential has agreed to pay for the assets was not disclosed.

Presidential Realty currently owns one property: Mapletree Industrial Center, a 393,488-square-foot facility in Palmer, Massachusetts.

ELM Logistics Leases 82,000 SF at Haines Industrial Ctr

ELM Logistics signed an 81,907-square-foot lease at 1817 Rte. 130 in Burlington, NJ.

The single-story, 163,588-square-foot industrial building was constructed in 1978 in the Burlington Industrial submarket of Philadelphia, part of the Haines Industrial Center.

Keystone Property Group Secures Financing for VEVA 16, 18

Keystone Property Group secured a $29 million mortgage for its VEVA 16 and 18 office towers at 1787 Sentry Pky. W in Blue Bell, PA.

 Romer & Co. arranged the financing on behalf of the borrower, placing the five-year note with IH Capital.

Built in 1988, the twin four-story office buildings total a combined 192,979 square feet in Sentry Park West within the Plymouth Meeting / Blue Bell submarket. The campus features on-site banking, conference facilities, a fitness center, food service as well as on-site property management.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

3 Lease Deals Sign in Bucks County & Philadelphia

by Steve Lubetkin,
 Three leases with a musical instrument company, a limousine service, and a moving company totaling 22,655 square feet were signed in Philadelphia and Bucks County, PA.

Otto Musica Corporation signed a long-term lease transaction for 6,665 square feet of office and warehouse space at 421 Pike Road in Southampton, PA.  Otto Musica distributes violins and other musical instruments and accessories throughout the United States.

A long-term lease for 6,000 square feet was signed at 1375 Adams Road in Bensalem, PA. The tenant, Priority Shuttle subleased from Mark Page Enterprises. Priority Shuttle is an expanding limo and transportation company based in Bucks County.

 Atlanta Van Lines, a Florida based moving company, signed a 10,000-square-foot lease at 7940 State Road in Philadelphia.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

ACI Technologies Leases 25,000 SF at International Plaza

ACI Technologies, a scientific research corporation, has signed a lease for 25,000 square feet in the office building at 1 International Plz in Philadelphia, PA.

The six-story Plaza 1 building totals 194,411 square feet in the International Plaza business park. Scott Paper Company developed the property in 1961, with a recent renovation in 2007.

ACI Technologies' lease includes space on the first and sixth floors. Other tenants include the City of Philadelphia OTG Management, Inc. and Petplan Insurance.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Liberty Developing New American Water HQ In Camden, NJ

by Steve Lubetkin,
Liberty Property Trust will develop a new corporate headquarters for American Water at One Water Street in Camden, NJ. It will be the first commercial development in Liberty’s vision for “The Camden Waterfront,” a $1-billion, 20-acre mixed-use development master planned by Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

“American Water’s decision to relocate to ‘The Camden Waterfront’ is an important step forward in helping to realize this key development for the future of Camden,” says John Gattuso, regional director and senior vice president for Liberty’s metro region. “We are delighted that American Water shares Liberty’s vision and wants to be at the forefront of this redevelopment.”

The building at One Water Street is designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects to achieve LEED Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council. One Water Street will encompass 222,376 square feet of office space in an innovative five-story metal-and-glass building that will frame views to the river and the Philadelphia skyline. Construction of the building and adjacent parking garage is slated to begin this fall subject to the completion of Liberty’s due diligence, and acquisition of, The Camden Waterfront site. The new building is expected to be complete the second half of 2018.

“We continue to work diligently to put the additional pieces in place to establish ‘The Camden Waterfront’ as a vibrant community,” says Gattuso. “We are also working with several additional corporations in this exciting live/work/play environment.”

“I can think of no better place for the nation’s largest publicly traded water utility company to locate its headquarters than on the waterfront of a city it proudly serves,” says Susan Story, president and CEO, American Water. “Liberty’s plans for The Camden Waterfront will be transformative for the city of Camden, and as the provider of water and wastewater services to its residents, we want to be a part of this exciting development.”

American Water will be consolidating several of its leased facilities in southern New Jersey into the new corporate headquarters at One Water Street in Camden.

The announcement followed the approval of American Water’s site selection by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority during its monthly board meeting on July 14. The Camden Waterfront is getting Grow NJ tax credits that help make the project financially viable.

As previously reported by, The Camden Waterfront is a new $1 billion mixed-use development situated on 20-acres of prime waterfront property on the Delaware River. The 1.5 million square foot office development will include hotel, residential and retail components.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Plymouth Meeting/Blue Bell 2Q 2016 Vacancy Report

King of Prussia/Wayne 2Q 2016 Vacancy Report

Conshohocken 2Q 2016 Vacancy Report

Where's the Best Value in Real Estate? (Video)

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Architecture Leasing At East Market

by Steve Lubetkin,
Award-winning national architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson will lease 18,525 square feet of space at 34 South 11th Street in the East Market development being rolled out by National Real Estate Development and SSH Real Estate. BCJ’s nationally renowned work includes the Liberty Bell Center on Independence Mall and US flagship stores for Apple – such as the New York City Fifth Avenue cube.

“Having already welcomed Design Within Reach and The Design Center to East Market, the addition of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson further establishes this project as a long awaited design hub in the heart of Philadelphia,” says Daniel Killinger, managing director of development for National Real Estate Development. “The vision for this building was to make a place where Philadelphia’s most creative companies would be drawn to the open loft-like space. We’re thrilled that BCJ is going to be designing their next generation of award-winning buildings from their new home at East Market.”

“Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s decision to move East of Broad Street underscores the revitalization and renewed interest in this section of the city. In particular, the vibrancy of the East Market neighborhood, its convenient access to transportation and the premier creative office building in Center City brings a new and highly desired experience for Philadelphia companies and employees.”

BCJ will move its current Philadelphia office from 123 South Broad Street to 18,525 square feet of space located on the sixth floor of 34 South 11th Street, which will be customized to BCJ’s individual needs and styled in an open office concept with a modern, warehouse feel.

“Design is key to us as architects, and we were excited to have found this unique opportunity at East Market,” says Tom Kirk from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. “The open, industrial concept at East Market is something that matches our own design tendencies – and it’s something that we would otherwise need to go beyond Center City to find. With this prime location, extraordinary daylight, and exposed structure, we are excited to move into the new space in a neighborhood that offers so much more than a place to work.”

With this announcement, East Market’s 34 South 11th Street building is nearly 50% leased. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson joins MOM’s Organic Market, set to open on the ground floor this fall, as well as Philadelphia’s premier resource for the interior design trade, The Design Center, which plans to open its doors in December 2016. Authentic modern furniture retailer Design Within Reach will open across the street in early 2017. Wells Fargo is providing the construction financing for 34 South 11th Street.

The first phase of the East Market project, encompassing 34 South 11th Street and additional buildings along Market and Ludlow Streets, will be completed by the spring of 2017. This will include 200,000 square feet of open, customizable office space, alongside 322 modern residential units and 130,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Endurance Acquires Burlington County Industrial Portfolio For $5.7 Million

by Steve Lubetkin,
An affiliate of Endurance Real Estate Group is acquiring 550 Glen Avenue and 600 Glen Court, a two building, 45 percent-occupied warehouse portfolio totaling 187,569 square feet in Moorestown, NJ, for $5.7 million.

“This Portfolio provides a rare opportunity to acquire very functional warehouse buildings in a strong infill industrial market,” says David Erlbaum, acquisitions associate at Endurance. “With a low basis, in-place cash flow from the existing tenancy, and the planned improvements to 550 Glen Avenue, we feel confident in our plan to stabilize the Portfolio in the near-term and are well on our way with the new 50,000 square-foot lease we just signed.”

This portfolio resides in an infill section of the strong Burlington County industrial real estate market which is part of the greater Philadelphia MSA.

600 Glen Court is an 85,337 square foot warehouse building fully occupied by The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and FinishMaster. The in-place cash flow combined with comprehensive planned improvements will support the lease up of 550 Glen Avenue next door, a warehouse building totaling 102,232 SF with a 22-foot clear height, 2,000 amp three-phase electric service, 40-foot x 40-foot bays, 14 loading docks, and the potential for rail service.

Shortly after closing, Endurance signed a lease for half of the vacancy at 550 Glen Avenue increasing the occupancy of the portfolio to 73 percent. The remaining vacant space is just shy of 50,000 square feet and includes almost 4,000 square feet of office space. The buildings provide superior access to Philadelphia, a 20 minute drive, and the Southern New Jersey market via state Route 73 (2 miles away), I-295 and the NJ Turnpike.

Planned immediate improvements to 550 Glen Avenue include upgrading the warehouse lighting, milling and repaving the parking lot, upgrading dock doors with new levelers and seals, exterior painting, upgraded landscaping and a full roof replacement.

The Endurance team has considerable ownership experience in the Southern New Jersey market. In nearby Cherry Hill, NJ, affiliates of Endurance own and manage over 800,000 square feet of warehouse, flex, and single-story office space at the Cherry Hill Business Park and Colwick Business Center.

ClientLink exercised its option in Montgomeryville Industrial Location

by Steve Lubetkin,
ClientLink, a production and marketing company that provides a myriad of services including e-commerce, fulfillment, digital and offset printing, direct mail, promotional items, warehousing and logistics, is acquiring 220 Commerce Drive in Montgomeryville, PA, a 65,219-square-foot industrial building it has been leasing.

The seller was LMP Montgomeryville. ClientLink was an existing tenant in the building and exercised its option to purchase the property.

“We are pleased to have completed this transaction on behalf of our client, and also to assist a great company like ClientLink in meeting its business needs."

“This fully air-conditioned building has many features that made it an ideal home for ClientLink, including sizeable office & print rooms, heavy power, wide column spacing and high ceilings, as well as its location near the Pennsylvania Turnpike and other major highways, that made the purchase of this building an easy decision for the tenant,” says Lashner.

Situated within Montgomeryville Industrial Park, 220 Commerce Drive features 4,818 square feet of office space, 41,733 square feet of warehouse space, and an 18,000-square-foot production area. The facility also features four tailgate loading docks and one over-sized drive-in door.

Located just of Route 309, which provides immediate access to the Fort Washington and Willow Grove interchanges of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the building is also in close proximity to SEPTA bus routes and the SEPTA Commuter Rail Line. Other nearby highways include Routes 63, 463, 611 and 202.

Friday, July 8, 2016

REITs first line of defense (Video)

P.J. Clarke’s Bar And Restaurant Coming To The Curtis

by Steve Lubetkin,
The Curtis, the historic 12-floor office building at the corner of 6th and Walnut Street, is getting a 200-seat P.J. Clarke’s restaurant and bar.

Clarke’s, one of the oldest bars in New York, has signed a fifteen-year lease with Keystone Property Group for 16,835 square feet of ground floor space at The Curtis.

“After three years of searching for restaurant space, I am thrilled that the iconic P.J. Clarke’s will be coming to Philadelphia."

Founded in 1884, P.J. Clarke’s is known for its signature Cadillac Burger (named by Nat King Cole), King George’s Shepherd’s Pie, lamb shank, fish and chips and baked mac and cheese.  The restaurant has locations in New York, Washington DC, and Brazil.  The Curtis location in Philadelphia is slated to open late summer 2016.

The Curtis is adjacent to Washington Square Park and Independence National Historic Park and is accessible to all public transportation and close to major roadways including I-95, I-676 and I-76.  P.J. Clarke’s will have an outdoor dining space and lower-level bowling alley space which will be used for private parties.

Wiss Janney Elsten, an employee-owned interdisciplinary design and construction firm, has also joined The Curtis’s office community.

WJE will relocate its Philadelphia operation from 400 Market Street and expand into 5,600 square feet at The Curtis.

WJE selected the space for the building’s rich history and architectural details, as well as its central location with easy access from both the Pennsylvania suburbs and New Jersey, says Jon Jadico, unit manager of the WJE Philadelphia Office.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Strong NJ Industrial CRE Demand Pushes Vacancy To 5% Level

by Steve Lubetkin,
Industrial leasing activity in Northern and Central New Jersey in the first half of 2016 remained significantly above historic levels, particularly at class A properties, pushing overall vacancy rates down to five percent in the second quarter of the year.

Net absorption at midyear reached 5.2 million square feet, putting 2016 on track to be one of the best for New Jersey’s industrial leasing.

“New demand for large class A spaces continued to be driven by e-commerce and last-mile delivery companies. In particular, Amazon, FedEx and UPS have been vigorously leasing space in the first half of 2016. FedEx and UPS alone leased a combined 1.5 million square feet this year, with most of those transactions expansions within the market and new requirements.”

Tenant activity was particularly strong within the Exit 8A submarket, where 3.5 million square feet of leasing activity was recorded this quarter, accounting for 38.8% of total leasing activity for Central New Jersey. Noteworthy transactions signed at midyear 2016 include Wayfair leasing 1.24 million square feet at 48-50 Station Road in Cranbury, and NJ-Cal Warehouse Expediters signing for 324,340 square feet at 26 Engelhard Avenue in Monroe.

Average asking rental rates continue to accelerate for all industrial asset classes. Rates have increased 19.3 percent since 2012 and are now less than one percent below the historical high of $6.30 per square foot.

Construction activity continued at an elevated rate in the second quarter of 2016, with 14 projects, totaling 2.3 million square feet, underway. With several developers considering breaking ground on 1.0 million square feet of speculative projects, construction activity is expected to remain elevated during the next 12 months.

“We anticipate new deliveries will reach 4.5 million square feet by year-end 2016, making it the second-best year for new construction this cycle — just behind 2014, when more than 8.0 million square feet of new construction was recorded."

In A Flurry Of Deals in the Philadelphia Region Space Worth $3.4 Million

by Steve Lubetin,

At 718 Arch Street, The Cast Iron Building, the owner of the building, AMC Delancey Group in leasing more than 4,000 square feet. WFGD, a regional marketing and branding company, leased nearly 2,000 square feet for its new headquarters, which it will occupy in September 2016. Frontier BPM, a software company moving into the city from Blue Bell, PA, leased 2,000 SF.

At the Gateway Business Center, 3751 Island Avenue two new lease transacted.. XTL, a regional logistic company, leased 1,500 square feet. In the second transaction, CMC Engineering leased 1,000 square feet and will occupy the space August 1.

At 198 Allendale Road Cunningham Piano Company leased nearly 6,000 square feet. The retail location will be used to sell various types of pianos. The long term lease is valued at more than $2 million.

Console Law Offices leased for 3,000 square feet at 210 Marter Avenue in Moorestown, NJ, about 15 miles from Philadelphia. Financial terms of the lease were not released.

MRA Group Constructs Aria Health Urgent Care Center

by Steve Lubetkin,
MRA Development Services has completed the construction and fit-out of Aria Health’s urgent care facility at 2451 Grant Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia, PA. Allmed Comprehensive Care Centers are Aria Health’s latest healthcare venture that provides specialized care to treat non-emergent injuries or conditions. Aria Allmed facilities are now frequented by patients throughout the Philadelphia and Bucks County regions who are seeking convenient alternatives to visiting the emergency room.

 Aria Health will have a 4,000 square foot walk-in patient facility at the intersection of Grant Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard.

The space, which previously was home to a family medical practice, to include seven exam rooms, a radiographic x-ray room, a clinical laboratory, and a centralized nursing station.

“We wanted to create a convenient space while still incorporating Aria Health’s professional and medical standards and the quality of care that patients receive at the health system’s main campuses."

Currently located in Northeast Philadelphia and on Street Road in Bensalem, MRA manages both Aria Allmed locations and recently completed lease negotiations for a third location on Delaware Avenue in Center City, Philadelphia. “We are currently in the construction phase for the 4,000 square foot Delaware Avenue facility and anticipate completion for Fall 2016.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Green Courte, Independent Living Community, Trades in Harleysville

by Steve Lubetkin,
Green Courte Partners, a Chicago-based real estate private equity group, has acquired Arbour Square of Harleysville, a 276-unit independent living community located in Harleysville, PA.

The seller is a Philadelphia-based seniors housing and multifamily development company that was not identified. Terms were not disclosed.

Green Courte Partners is keeping the current operator of the property, Heritage Senior Living, a Pennsylvania-based company which develops, owns, operates, and manages seniors housing communities located throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

“The property was built in two phases. Upon completion of phase one in 2006, 151 units were opened, and an additional 125 units were opened with the completion of phase two in 2014. Since opening, phase two has experienced significant occupancy growth,” says IPA senior director Joshua Jandris. “The area’s positive demographics, namely an aging population with an average household income above $120,000, bodes well for the property’s long-term stability and performance.”

Arbour Square of Harleysville is 35 miles northwest of downtown Philadelphia and is approximately nine miles from Lansdale Hospital.

86,000 SF Of Recent Deals in the Delaware Valley Industrial Market

by Steve Lubetkin,
More than 85,600 square feet of industrial and flex space transactions took place throughout Bucks County and the greater Philadelphia region.

Pottstown Industrial Complex leased 21,200 square feet at 191 S. Keim Street in Pottstown, PA. Mageba USA, the lessor, previously shared this space with another company.

Triple A Paper Company leased 16,000 square feet from Dunksferry Associates at 3161 State Road, Unit B in Bensalem, PA. The company supplies various paper products to retailers.

Invest 360 leased 15,000 square feet of flex space from Active Realty Associates at 95 James Way in Southampton, PA. The company is expanding its space from 5,000 square feet.

A 12,000-square-foot sale at 1430 County Line Road, Montgomery, PA. from BF Services to M&B Associates. M&B Associates is expanding its garment warehouse and distribution operation at this location.

Ameritech Network Services Corp. leased 9,000 square feet at 770 Haunted Lane in Bensalem, PA. from Michener LD. The wireless network solutions company is relocating from Hatboro, PA.

Chris’ Transmissions leased 8,400 square feet from 5025 Cottman Acquisitions Associates at 7346 Wissinoming Street in Philadelphia, PA. The auto repair business is expanding from its previous location.

Made Right Precision Manufacturing leased 4,000 square feet from Alan Breece at 201 Lower Morrisville Road in Fallsington, PA. The machine parts manufacturer is expanding from its previous location in New Jersey.

“These transactions are a testament to the frenzied activity in commercial real estate throughout our greater Philadelphia region.  Hopefully the pace continues through the year."