Thursday, January 23, 2020

Philadelphia Investor Buys Grocery-, Gym-Anchored Shopping Center for $18.3 Million

Philadelphia-based Gorman & Co. has purchased the grocery- and gym-anchored Larchmont Commons retail center in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, from RPC Real Estate and Merion Realty Partners’ asset management group for $18.25 million, or about $142 per square foot.

Financing was arranged of $12.9 million, 10-year, fixed-rate acquisition loan with an institutional capital source on behalf of the new owner.

The 128,172-square-foot center at 3105-3117 Route 38 is anchored by Aldi, Planet Fitness and Dollar Tree. Major tenants at the 88% leased property include Hair Cuttery, The UPS Store and Kumon Learning Center.

The center spans 24.7 acres less than 12 miles from the Philadelphia CBD.

"There has been a steady increase in investor demand for grocery-anchored product within the greater Philadelphia marketplace, resulting in correlating cap-rate compression since the start of 2019," Munley said in a statement. "With the steady flow of new capital we have witnessed entering the retail investment market, we anticipate that to continue into 2020."

For more than 30 years, the principals of Gorman & Co. and its predecessor companies have been engaged in the land acquisition and ground up development of more than 3 million square feet of office, retail, residential, self-storage and mixed-use properties throughout the region with an aggregate value of more than $400 million, according to its website.

Essex County Unveils Plans for New 150,000 Government Office Building

New Jersey’s Essex County is advancing plans to construct a 150,000-square-foot office building at its government complex in downtown Newark, the county seat.

The development is part of a series of updates and expansions that Essex County is making to its properties in New Jersey's largest city, which has also seen a surge in the private real estate development of both office and multifamily buildings.

The latest project is slated for what is now a jurors' parking lot on the south side of the Essex County Hall of Records center. The planned building, with its front entrance to face Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, is expected to house 11 courtrooms for tax court and space for the county clerk, board of elections, superintendent of elections, surrogate's office and board of taxation, according to a statement from Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr.

Plans for the new building also include cafeteria space large enough to accommodate the entire complex and would replace the current cafe on the Hall of Records' third floor. A pedestrian bridge would connect the new building to the records hall.

County officials outlined details of their plans for the development Wednesday at a news conference that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy attended. At the event, DiVincenzo said he's proposing to name the building the Essex County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Justice Building in honor of the legendary civil rights leader.

The county has awarded Comito and Associates a $2.3 million professional services contract to design the building. A resolution to award a publicly bid construction contract is on the agenda for an Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting on Feb. 26.

The county is funding the project, scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2021, through its capital budget. The Essex County Department of Public Works will monitor the construction.

"Many of the visitors who come to the Hall or Records to conduct business or search for records have a difficult time navigating our hallways and finding the offices they need," DiVincenzo said in a statement. "When the Superior Court was looking for modern space, we realized this was an opportunity to create a state-of-the-art building where we could consolidate our constitutional offices and create an atmosphere that was more user-friendly. Visitors already are taking time out of their busy schedules to come to the Hall of Records; we want to make it as easy as possible to get to the office they need."

The new King building is part of a multiphase county project to provide additional office space and modern facilities at the Hall of Records complex. Right now, a 900-car deck for employee parking is under construction on West Market Street, and the renovation of two office buildings at 320-321 University Ave. is underway. That location will serve as the new headquarters for the Essex County Division of Family Assistance and Benefits. Both projects are expected to be completed this year.

Essex County dedicated an 8-foot bronze statue of King and named a plaza after him in 2015. That original statue will be incorporated into the proposed building. In addition, a new 16-foot bronze statue of King will be commissioned and placed at the front entrance to the planned building on King Boulevard.

Brian O’Neill to build cell and gene manufacturing facility in King of Prussia

by Katie Park, Philadelphia Inquirer
Brian O’Neill, the Main Line developer who founded the substance abuse treatment chain Recovery Centers of America, plans to develop a $1.1 billion cell and gene therapy manufacturing facility in King of Prussia.

The company, which O’Neill has named the Center for Breakthrough Medicines, is part of the Discovery Labs, a 1.6 million-square-foot, $500 million biotechnology, health-care, and life sciences office complex he is building in an industrial section of King of Prussia. The center will claim 680,000 square feet of the Discovery Labs.

The goal of the center, its management said Wednesday, is to pursue cures for diseases including cystic fibrosis, hemophilia A, and certain cancers by working with scientists, large pharmaceutical companies, and academic and governmental institutions.

Health-care investment management firm Deerfield Management of New York City co-founded the center with O’Neill.

“Today, brilliant scientists are advancing an unprecedented number of gene and cell therapy drug candidates," Alex Karnal, Deerfield’s partner and managing director and a Discovery Labs board member, said in a statement. “The real tragedy, however, is a scarcity of manufacturing know-how, which is complex and expensive.”

The Center for Breakthrough Medicines will address what it regards as a “shortfall” in cell and gene therapy manufacturing, the company said, as well as a scarcity of products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Discovery Labs is managed by Radnor-based MLP Ventures, formerly the O’Neill Properties Group. The complex has announced its plans to remake the 1 million-square-foot Upper Merion West facility formerly occupied by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and 640,000 square feet at the nearby office park Innovation Renaissance.

In 2018, MLP Ventures bought a portion of Innovation Renaissance from Wayne-based Liberty Property Trust for $77 million. Liberty, the company that built the Comcast Towers in Philadelphia, has since arranged to be acquired by San Francisco’s Prologis Inc. for $12.6 billion.

Major construction continues at the Discovery Labs, which plans suites for universal cell processing, viral vector production, and cell banking for the Center for Breakthrough Medicines. The company said it would hire around 2,000 employees over the next 2½ years.

It is marketing itself as “the world’s largest and most advanced single solution cell and gene therapy contract development and manufacturing organization. Period."

Chicago Developer Buys Former Philadelphia Refinery in Bankruptcy Auction

Hilco Redevelopment Partners is the winning bidder of one of the oldest and largest oil refineries on the East Coast. The purchase by Hilco, a company that specializes in redeveloping industrial sites, suggests the oil refinery may soon be transformed into a logistics hub.

Hilco, based in Chicago, plans to spend $240 million to buy the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery, according to filings revealed Wednesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The 150-year-old refinery sits in south Philadelphia and has been closed since a fire and explosion last year. Shortly after the fire, Philadelphia Energy Solutions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The refinery sale still requires approval from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court as well as creditors, according to the filings.

The property is on 1,300 acres along the Schuylkill River, providing waterway infrastructure.

Hilco has a track record of redeveloping industrial sites into logistics-focused projects. Hilco bought a former Baltimore steel mill for $72 million several years ago and transformed it into Tradepoint Atlantic, a 3,300-acre shipping and logistics industrial development with tenants such as Amazon and Home Depot, according to CoStar data.

In Chicago, Hilco is redeveloping the former Crawford Station — one of the city’s oldest power stations — into a 1 million-square-foot logistics center. The project, called Exchange 55, is expected to be completed this year.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery was the largest refinery on the East Coast and processed roughly 335,000 barrels of oil per day at maximum capacity.

Demand for refined petroleum is expected to dwindle in the coming years because of increased fuel efficiency and wider use of electric and hybrid vehicles, according to a market report from IHS Markit, an industry consulting firm. The East Coast is expected to have the steepest decline in demand because of higher operating costs and competition from alternative energy, according to IHS Markit.

IHS Markit cites uncertainties related to the refinery site such as environmental conditions and being an urban location close to residential communities. About 219,700 people lived within 3 miles of the refinery site in 2017, according to the consulting firm.

NJ Industrial Market Ends Decade with Record Vacancies, Rents

by John Jordan
The industrial market in the state of New Jersey set new records at the end of 2019 for low vacancy and high rents.

In its fourth quarter 2019 industrial market report for New Jersey, showed the big box bubble is showing no sign of bursting as new construction continues to lease up quickly.
New Jersey’s industrial market finished the year at a record-low vacancy rate of 3.5%. The decade also ended with 18 consecutive quarters of increased rents and 16 consecutive quarters of record-high rents, closing 2019 at $8.73-per-square-foot.

Last year, new development in the Garden State slowed down with 4.7 million square feet being built, the lowest amount recorded since 2016. During 2019, 5.4 million square feet of industrial space was absorbed, the lowest level since 2012, due to limited supply.

“The scarcity of available land, especially in northern New Jersey, has slowed development in the past couple of years, and most new construction has been leased up quickly. Following exhaustive searches, challenges with rezoning and environmental factors, developers have replenished the construction pipeline heading into 2020.”

At the close of 2019, nearly 11 million square feet was under construction in core New Jersey markets, including more than 1 million square feet in the pipeline for five of the 25 submarkets.

Rents continued to rise, albeit at a slower pace, increasing by 6.1% from a year ago. Led by Exit 8A and the Hudson Waterfront submarkets, 17 of the 25 submarkets included reported higher rents than a year ago, with nine increasing by more than 10% year over year. New construction is commanding double-digit rents, with some approaching the mid-teens.
“Industrial real estate will remain the preferred asset class for investors and will also be the safest investment during periods of economic uncertainty. E-commerce was the catalyst for demand during the past decade, and recent reports of record-setting online shopping points to continued prosperity in the industrial market heading into 2020.”

E-commerce continues to have a positive impact on the industrial space as it has created “reverse logistics, or the need for separate facilities to handle returns directly by the originating retailer or third-party logistics providers.”

Key data points that clearly indicate the emerging influence e-commerce has on retail sales and the industrial real estate market.

E-commerce as a percentage of overall U.S. retail sales surpassed 11% for the first time in the third quarter of 2019. At the start of the decade, Amazon did not occupy any industrial properties in New Jersey. By the end of 2019, the company now occupies more than 12 million square feet in the state.

Cargo volume for the Port of New York and New Jersey continued to set records, the latest in November 2019, maintaining its position as the second-largest port in North America. By 2050, cargo at the port is expected to double.