Thursday, February 24, 2011

Commercial Real Estate Market Stabilizing?

The Borders bankruptcy presents an opportunity in the commercial real estate market, John Lyons, CEO at Savills LLC said. More generally, the real estate market has stabilized, with vacancies decreasing and rents firming, he said. (Video 3:54m)

The Commercial Real Estate Comeback

Tracking the progress of pricing in commercial real estate, with Andrew Florance, Costar Group president/CEO. CoStar bought a building in DC for $41M and rencently did a sale lease back for $101M. Nice Job! (Video 5:19 min)

Buffalo Valley Shopping Center Sells for $2.8M

"A Pennsylvania Limited Partnership acquired the Buffalo Valley Shopping Center in Mifflinburg, PA from Koskap Partners for $2.83 million, or about $38 per square foot.
The shopping center delivered in the 1960s at 299 - 335 E. Chestnut St. It totals 73,542 square feet and was 88 percent leased at the time of the sale."

Monday, February 21, 2011

SBA Coming To The Rescue of Small Maturing CRE Loans

"Small businesses facing maturity of commercial mortgages or balloon payments before Dec. 31, 2012, may be able to refinance their mortgage debt with a 504 loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration under a new, temporary program.

The new refinancing loan is structured like SBA's traditional 504, with borrowers committing at least 10% equity and working with third-party lending institutions and SBA-approved Certified Development Companies in the standard 50%/40% split. A key feature of the new program is that it does not require an expansion of the business in order to qualify.

SBA will begin accepting refinancing applications on Feb. 28. The program, authorized under the Small Business Jobs Act, will be in effect through Sept. 27, 2012.

"The economic downturn of recent years and the declining value of real estate have had a significant, negative impact on many small businesses with mortgages maturing within the next few years," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. "As a result, even small businesses that are performing well and making their payments on time could face foreclosure because of the difficulties they face in refinancing and restructuring their mortgage debt. This temporary program is another tool SBA can provide to help these small businesses remain viable and protect jobs."

The SBA initially will open the program to businesses with immediate need due to impending balloon payments before Dec. 31, 2012. SBA will revisit the program later and may open it to businesses with balloon payments due after that date or those that can demonstrate strong need in other ways.

"We are making this initial restriction to make sure our funding goes first to small businesses with the most need," said Steve Smits, SBA associate administrator of capital access.

Borrowers will be able to refinance up to 90% of the current appraised property value or 100% of the outstanding mortgage, whichever is lower, plus eligible refinancing costs. Loan proceeds may not be used for other business expenses. Existing 504 projects and government-guaranteed loans are not eligible to be refinanced.

Congress authorized SBA to approve up to $15 billion in loans under this program ($7.5 billion in both fiscal 2011 and 2012). Together with the first mortgage, this temporary program will provide up to $33.8 billion of total project financing. Additional fees charged to the borrower will cover the cost of this refinancing program and as a result no subsidy will be needed. The program is expected to benefit as many as 20,000 businesses.

SBA's traditional 504 loan program is a long-term financing tool, designed to encourage economic development within a community. A 504 loan provides small businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing to acquire major fixed assets for expansion or modernization.

Typically, a 504 project includes three elements: a loan (or first mortgage) secured with a senior lien from a private-sector lender covering up to 50% of the project cost, a second mortgage secured with a junior lien from an SBA Certified Development Company (backed by a 100% SBA-guaranteed debenture) covering up to 40% of the cost, and a contribution of at least 10% equity from the small business borrower."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lease Agreement at 91 Dowlin Forge Road in Lionville

"A new lease agreement for 1,271 square feet of office space was completed within The Lionville Professional Center here.

The owner is EWJT Partners. The tenant is Michael and Jeanine Aversa.
91 Dowlin Forge Road is a single story office suite complete with custom fit-out, individually controlled HVAC, a thermal pane operable window system, 9' drop ceiling and shared vaulted entry area containing lobby and bathrooms". The Lionville Professional Center consists of 11 single story buildings located at the corner of Eagleview Boulevard and Dowlin Forge Road close to the entrance of the Eagleview Corporate Center and Route 113."

Sale of Two Parking Lots in Chinatown

"The sale of an 8,670 SF public parking lot at 1013-1015 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA was recently completed. The Buyer was 1013-1015 Arch Street Realty, LLC. Sale Price: $3,550,000. The sites will be used for future development.

The second public parking lot containing 7,435 SF is located at 1020-1026 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA. The Buyer was 1010-1028 Cherry Street Realty, LLC. Sale Price: $2,700,000.

The Seller in both transactions is the Parkway Corporation."

Sale Arranged of Camden Town Center Pads in Camden, Delaware Totaling $6,032,000

The five ground leased pad sites at Camden Town Center include:

- Applebee's Neighborhood Bar & Grill, at 4110 South DuPont Highway, at the price of $1,257,000, which represents a 7.00 percent capitalization rate;

- Chick-fil-A, at 4044 South DuPont Highway, at the price of $1,240,000, which represents a 6.25 percent capitalization rate;

- Dunkin' Donuts, at 4080 South DuPont Highway, at the price of $930,000, which represents a 6.24 percent capitalization rate;

- Texas Roadhouse, at 4568 South DuPont Highway, at the price of $1,535,000, which represents a 7.52 percent capitalization rate; and

- WSFS Bank, at 4566 South DuPont Highway, at the price of $1,070,000, which represents a 6.62 percent capitalization rate.

20 Hagerty Blvd., West Chester, PA is Sold

"The sale of 20 Hagerty Boulevard, West Chester is a 20,910 SF building, located in the I-2 Zoning District of West Goshen Township, was formerly occupied by Bass Supply, a roofing and building supply business. The flex building, comprised of office and warehouse spaces, consists of three units consisting of 14,000 SF, 4,000 SF and 3,000 SF and can seamlessly accommodate multiple tenants with existing demising walls and seperated utilities. Additionally, the building features 20' warehouse ceilings, loading docks and drive-in access.

The buyer was a local, private investor. The building was on the market for approximately four months."

Sale of the Former Linen-N-Things 259,910 Square Foot Distribution Center in NJ

"Lexington Lion NEBC L.P., an affiliate of Lexington Realty Trust, sold 1109 Commerce Boulevard, LogistiCenter@Logan, Logan Township, Gloucester County, NJ to a joint venture consisting of DP Partners and Great Point Investors LLC.

The building is a 259,910 square foot one-story distribution center located on 25 acres was sold to DP Partners for an undisclosed purchase price.

DP Partners, a member of Dermody Properties, is a privately held, national commercial real estate firm with almost 50 years of experience and 35 million SF of both speculative and build-to-suit development across the country. DP Partners has been recognized as one of 10 largest private commercial property developers in the nation with a reputation for innovation, quality and outstanding service; including their development of LogistiCenter at Logan, a 1,100 acre, Class A master planned business park fronting Center Square Road in Logan Township, Gloucester County, NJ. Upon total buildout, the site will accommodate over 7.4 million SF of industrial, distribution and light-manufacturing space. The proposed facilities have been designed to optimize the distribution supply chain and maximum speed to the market. "

Hypercat ACP Leases 37,702 SF in West Chester

"Hypercat ACP Leases 37,702 SF of flex space at 1075 Andrew Drive in West Chester, PA.
The aggregate rental of the lease is in excess of $3,350,000.

According to their website, "Hypercat Advanced Catalyst Products is a leading edge, technologically-driven emissions control manufacturing company". They will be occupying the new facility early 2011.

1075 Andrew Drive is located in the West Goshen Business Park which is close to Routes 202, 100 and 322 with excellent visibility from Route 202. The building is an attractive one-story, multi-tenant flex building containing 65,200 square feet of office and warehouse space. Additional features of the building include extensive parking, 18' ceiling heights and is adjacent to a bank and day-care center."

Six Local Lease Transactions Completed

The transactions consist of the following:

- Main Line Health leased 4,304 square feet of office space at Spring Mill Corporate Center (1100 E. Hector Street) in Conshohocken, PA. This is a new medical office for Main Line Health.

- Nevyas Eye Associates, renewed their lease at Two Bala Plaza in Bala Cynwyd, PA. Nevyas Eye Associates occupies 13,362 square feet in the building's plaza level.

- WCR Incorporated, a leader in heat exchangers and parts, leased 12,200 square feet of industrial warehouse space at 4080 Blanche Road in Bensalem, PA.

- 3 lease transactions at One Belmont Avenue in Bala Cynwyd.

- Oasis Dental signed a new lease for 3,133 SF on the 5th floor.
- Sovereign Bank renewed its lease for 5,389 SF on the 1st floor.
- Durst, Goldner & Gordon, Esquires, renewed their lease for 1,457 SF.

Adapt or Die: A Lesson in Changing Retail from Borders

Original article from Yahoo Finance 2/16/2011

"NEW YORK (AP) -- Borders was slow to get the message as the big-box retailer lost book, music and video sales to the Internet and other competition. The result: It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Wednesday, and will close nearly a third of its stores.

Less nimble than rival Barnes & Noble, Borders now begins what analysts expect will be a quickly resolved struggle for the survival of its remaining stores. It's the latest cautionary tale about the dangers retailers face when they fail to keep up with swiftly changing technology and consumer habits.

"It's almost a case of hit-and-run," said Al Greco, marketing professor at Fordham University. "They were crossing the street and they didn't pay attention, and that tractor trailer (of technology) hit them."

Borders plans to close about 200 of its 642 stores over the next few weeks, from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., costing about 6,000 of the company's 19,500 employees their jobs. The closures are also a blow to publishers already owed tens of millions of dollars by the company, which stopped paying them in December.

Borders said it is losing about $2 million a day at the stores it plans to close, all of them superstores. The company also operates smaller Waldenbooks and Borders Express stores.

Fifteen years ago, Borders superstores dotted the U.S. and seemed to be the future of bookselling. Its sprawling stores, comfortable chairs, cafe and widespread discounts epitomized the "bigger is better" retail philosophy that spelled the end of many mom-and-pop bookstores that couldn't compete on selection or price.

Americans today are more likely to pick up the latest best-seller anywhere from Costco to, or download a digital version, than make an extra trip to a strip mall.

Analysts say a key error for Borders came in 2001, when it contracted out its e-commerce business to Amazon.
"Amazon had no incentive whatsoever to promote Borders," said Simba Information senior trade analyst Michael Norris. "It really marked the beginning of the end."
That relationship lasted until 2007. By then, Borders lagged far behind Barnes & Noble, which began selling books online in 1997.
Borders also was slow to react to the growing popularity of e-books and e-book readers. After Amazon launched its popular Kindle e-book reader in 2007, Barnes & Noble followed with the Nook in 2009 and invested heavily in its electronic bookstore. Borders entered the electronic book market with Canada's Kobo Inc. last year but failed to garner much traction."

Remainder of the article can be found at:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

KBS REIT II Acquires $90M Industrial Portfolio

"KBS Real Estate Investment Trust II (KBS REIT II) has acquired a four-building industrial portfolio located throughout Pittston, Hazleton, and Jessup, PA for $90 million, or about $55 per square foot.

The portfolio consists of 1.6 million square feet of class A industrial space in the Northeast Pennsylvania industrial market located along the highly traveled Interstate 81 corridor. The four buildings are fully leased to seven tenants including three single-tenant leases to Kimberly-Clark,, and the Entenmann's division of Grupo Bimbo.

325 CenterPoint Boulevard in Pittston, PA is a single-story, 744,080-square-foot bulk industrial building completed in 2008 and located in the CenterPoint Commerce and Trade Park. Kimberly-Clark is the sole tenant.

125 Caoutak Road in Pittston, PA is also located in the CenterPoint Commerce and Trade Park and totals 144,000 square feet of build-to-suit bulk industrial space for Grupo Bimbo's Entenmann's division.

550 Oak Ridge Road in Hazleton, PA was built in 2008 and offers 615,600 square feet of LEED Silver-certified industrial space fully occupied by in the Humboldt Industrial Park.

14-46 Alberigi Drive in Jessup, PA is a 140,800-square-foot high-bay flex building completed in 2007 and located in the Jessup Small Business Center in the Scranton submarket. It is fully leased to four tenants including BAE Systems, Northeast Laminated Glass Corp., Two Chefs on a Roll, and Haband.

"The I-81 Industrial Portfolio gives KBS a significant industrial footprint in the heart of the strategically important NEPA submarket, known for easy access to northeast U.S. and Canadian cities and a well-developed industrial labor base," explained Shannon Hill, Northeast Region senior vice president and director of acquisitions for KBS Realty Advisors. "All four properties are located in top-quality business parks and should contribute to strong long-term tenant retention."
Headquartered in Newport Beach, California, KBS Capital Markets is the dealer manager and KBS Capital Advisors is the advisor for all KBS REITs. KBS Realty Advisors is a private equity real estate company and SEC-registered investment advisor founded in 1992, and has completed transactional activity of approximately $20 billion via 19 separate accounts, six commingled funds and five non-traded REITs."

A&P To Close 32 Stores

"The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company Inc. filed a motion seeking court approval to close 32 stores in six states as the company continues to implement its comprehensive financial and operational restructuring.

The store closures are expected to be completed in the company's fiscal first quarter, subject to bankruptcy court approval.
In its filing, A&P said the closures would generate $24 million in annual EBITDA improvement. If approved, store liquidation sales would begin April 15 and the stores would be given back to the landlords on April 30."
The stores slated for closure are as follows:

Food Basics, Bridgeport, CT
Pathmark, Glasgow, DE
Superfresh, Ocean City, MD
A&P, Bamegat, NJ
Superfresh, Cape May, NJ
Pathmark, Deptford, NJ
Superfresh, East Windsor, NJ
Waldbaums, Farmingdale, NJ
A&P, Flanders, NJ
Pathmark, Gillette, NJ
Superfresh, Hamilton Twp, NJ
Superfresh, Hammonton, NJ
Pathmark, Hillsborough, NJ
Pathmark, Livingston, NJ
A&P, Manville, NJ
Pathmark, Middletown, NJ
Superfresh, Mt. Holly, NJ
Pathmark, North Hackensack, NJ
Pathmark, South Plainfield, NJ
Pathmark, Whippany, NJ
Pathmark, Brooklyn, NY
A&P, Camel, NY
Pathmark, Commack, NY
A&P, Greenburgh, NY
Pathmark, Hartsdale, NY
A&P, New Rochelle, NY
A&P, Portchester, NY
Waldbaums, Smithtown, NY
Waldbaums, Valley Stream, NY
Pathmark, Bethlehem, PA
Superfresh, Lionville, PA
Superfresh, Yardley, PA

StonePointe Center Secures New Tenant

"Damage Recovery Systems signed a five-year lease for 44,063 square feet at 2525 N. 12th St. in Reading, PA. The property is located in the StonePointe Center, a 133-acre business park. The warehouse is located on the former Agere site in Muhlenberg Township, and was built in 1988."

Updated: CRE Brokerages Report Strong and Accelerating Leasing, Sales Growth In 2010

"A sign of improving commercial real estate market conditions around the globe, the industry's two largest global property services companies reported solid results for the last quarter of 2010.
One group reported a more modest 10% boost in revenue and FirstService Corp., saw total revenue jump about 18%, strengthened by a 30% boost in CRE transaction revenue.

Revenues reported by CBRE and JLL from sales, leasing and other business operations blew past Wall Street projections for the fourth quarter and for the full year. Stepped-up transaction activity across the CRE spectrum lent some octane to the all the publicly traded companies in the CRE services space.

Santa Ana, CA-based Grubb & Ellis reported a 10% rise in revenue in the fourth quarter to $163.5 million while swinging to a net loss of $10.7 million. However, the company narrowed its loss for the year from $78.8 million in 2009, or $1.27 per share, to $66.8 million, or $1.21 per share, in 2010.

Improving real estate conditions led to sales revenue growth of 96% and growth in leasing revenue of 36% over the year-ago period. GBE's Transaction Services business had a very strong year and strong quarter.

Jones Lang LaSalle swung from a loss of $4 million, or 11 cents, in 2009 to a net profit of $154 million, or $3.48 per share, driven by a record $2.9 billion in revenues for the year. More than half of JLL's profit came in the fourth quarter, with net income rising 62% to $84 million, or $1.91 per share. That compares to $52 million, or $1.19 per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

CB Richard Ellis (NYSE: CBG), meanwhile, enjoyed "undoubtedly one of the best years in CBRE's 100-plus year history." The Los Angeles based firm reported a 48% jump in the fourth quarter profit to $95.1 million, or 30 cents a share, while revenue rose 27% to a higher-than-expected $1.7 billion.

Virtually all the firm's regions posted double-digit growth in almost every business line. Only development services, which declined 20% off a low base during a record-low year for new supply, failed to achieve a quarterly boost.

CBRE's investment sales jumped up 40% while revenue from leasing rose 35%, fueled by a very strong 45% hike in the Americas. The strength of Class A property sales coupled with volume increases in other building classes resulted in accelerating fourth-quarter growth, the company said. Strong capital markets activity and improved lending conditions brought increases to the firm's appraisal and valuation, outsourcing and commercial mortgage segments.

"As dire as things appeared two years ago, they now seem equally positive and exciting. We’re at that point in the cycle when all fundamentals are positive and rapidly improving and when everything seems possible," White said during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call with analysts.

"Our strong performance in 2010, and the underlying momentum in the business, increases our confidence that we are in the early days of what ought to be a protracted and healthy recovery and expansion cycle in commercial real estate," White said. "This firm ... has never been better positioned to exploit a recovering marketplace."

Meaningful growth will continue in 2011, though not likely at last year's fast pace, and investment sales and leasing should continue to show year-over-year improvements, CBRE said.

The CBRE chief executive said the company strengthened its balance sheet in the fourth quarter, which "gave us enormous amount of capacity to make acquisitions and to take advantage of this marketplace."

The market cycle has brought "once in a lifetime" opportunities, especially the ING acquisition in the investment management space, White said. Other historic opportunities will come in the more traditional multi-service platforms in the commercial real estate services, he added, noting "this downturn wreaked a lot of havoc and a lot of pain on some of the smaller firms."

JLL revenues rose 17.3% to $956 million in the recent quarter from a year earlier. Leasing, which makes up the biggest slice of JLL's revenue, jumped 24% while property and facility management revenue increased 9.2%.

Mainly on the strength in its commercial real estate services segment, Canada-based FirstService Corp. narrowed its quarterly loss in the fourth quarter to $3.7 million, or 12 cents a share, from $9.3 million, or 40 cents a share, in the same period last year.

Overall revenue rose 18.5% to $552.1 million, while CRE Services revenues, constituting nearly half of all revenue, rose about 30% to $268 million. Colliers saw increased transaction activity in the Americas and Asia Pacific regions. "

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jim Cramer Talks with Liberty Properties CEO Bill Hankowsky

Jim Cramer Talks with Liberty Properties CEO Bill Hankowsky (Video 8:22 min)

Cramer on Commercial Real Estate (Video 3:26 min)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

NCC Automated Systems Buys Industrial Property

"NCC Automated Systems, which offers complete automation and packaging solutions for the pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries, acquired the industrial building at 255 Schoolhouse Rd. in Souderton, PA for $2,127,500, or $74 per square foot. "

According to Kevin Mauger, president of NCC Automated Systems, the company has experienced a time of growth in the past few years and the purchase of this 28,844-square-foot industrial building will allow the company to offer its customers "complete systems, fully integrated by a single supplier."

Commerce Corner Changes Hands for $9.1M

"A joint venture of Dermody Properties, Inc. and Great Point Investors LLC purchased Commerce Corner in the LogistiCenter at Logan, located at 1109 Commerce Blvd. in Logan Township, NJ from Lexington Realty Trust for $9,096,850, or $35 per square foot.

The 259,910-square-foot facility was built in 1998 and sits on over 14 acres in the Gloucester County Industrial submarket of Philadelphia. The property was vacant at the time of sale. "

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

GlaxoSmithKline moving Phila. operations to Navy Yard

"GlaxoSmithKline is relocating its Center City operations to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. It will move about 1,300 downtown employees to the South Philadelphia site.
Liberty Property Trust will construct a 205,000-square-foot “state-of-the art workplace of the future” for the pharmaceutical company, said John Gattuso, senior vice president and regional director at Liberty, a Malvern, Pa., real estate investment Trust. Robert A.M. Stern Architects will design the $81 million, four-story building, which will be built to meet a LEED platinum designation.

“The reason it is at the Navy Yard is the company wanted a very specific environment that had a main street and that’s not a configuration that could be adapted in a current building or built in Center City,” Gattuso said. “That is the driver of the selection of the Navy Yard.”

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), in a statement, said the building will have an open plan design, which is consistent with other GSK facilities designed to bring employees together to foster better communication and idea sharing. The building will have a fitness center, restaurant, retail services, and free parking for employees and visitors.

Glaxo signed a 15.5-year lease with Liberty and anticipates moving to the Navy Yard between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013

The arrangement will keep the pharmaceutical company in Philadelphia. Glaxo has been evaluating its Center City presence for the last four years and has considered a range of options, including a move to the suburbs as well as proposed office buildings in the Central Business District, according to various real estate sources.

The pharmaceutical company has major operations in Center City, where it used to maintain its North American headquarters. It has a lease that expires in 2013 for about 650,000 square feet at One Franklin Plaza at 16th and Race streets from HRPT Properties Trust. It leases another 220,000 square feet at nearby Three Franklin Plaza from Liberty Property, and that lease runs out in 2014. That building overlooks the Vine Street Expressway.
Site work on the project will start this month and Liberty anticipates breaking ground this summer. "

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Loans totaling $96M on offices buildings are in default

"Falls Corporate Center in Conshohocken, once a crown jewel in the office submarket here, and two other suburban office properties owned by Thomas Properties Group, are in a state of limbo while the landlord and its lender try to work out a deal on $96.5 million in loans in default.

The loans are secured by the three office properties. The landlord is in discussions with the lender to renegotiate the debt or “facilitate a sale or other liquidation of these properties” to resolve the situation, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by the company. A local company executive declined comment, referring to the SEC filings.

This is a fate met by other commercial property owners throughout the region, many of which have loans on properties whose values have fallen to the point where they are less than the amount borrowed. In fact, the “list of properties in special servicing and receivership continues to grow.”
The Thomas Properties loans came due last March and went unpaid, automatically forcing them into default. At the time, the company decided it would not make any payments on the loans to help repay them or refinance them, according to SEC documents. Thomas is accruing interest on the loans and a special servicer, LNR Partners Inc., is overseeing the situation. The two other properties involved are Walnut Hill Plaza and Oak Hill Plaza in King of Prussia.

Real estate observers and those familiar with this situation believe issues surrounding the loans will soon be settled and could have a range of outcomes. Some sort of “liquidation,” as referred to by Thomas in its filings, such as a foreclosure, is an option.

The biggest issue thwarting a solution is figuring out the value of the properties, according to one person involved in the local real estate scene. Appraisals of the three buildings have dramatically reduced the properties’ values from their original sale amounts.

“It’s been hard to peg values because values declined rapidly after the 2008 financial crisis and have been recovering since late 2009 and throughout 2010; values in some markets are snapping back and other markets, creeping back,” the observer said.

Like many commercial real estate investors, Thomas bought Four Falls, Walnut Hill and Oak Hill in 2005 as the market was getting over heated as part of a $170 million acquisition to buy a suburban portfolio owned by Equity Office Properties Trust. The transaction consisted of nearly 1 million square feet in 11 buildings. It was a joint venture with California State Teachers Retirement System.

It marked Thomas’ first foray into the Philadelphia suburban market after building up a strong presence in Center City with One and Two Commerce Square and 1835 Market St.

The gem in that portfolio was Four Falls, which was constructed in 1987. It set the stage for West Conshohocken and Conshohocken to become among the most desired local office addresses.

Four Falls consists of two six-story buildings totaling 254,000 square feet. It’s about 85 percent occupied. The Conshohocken office submarket has held its own during the recession. Its overall vacancy rate stands at 11.1 percent at year end. Average rents are at $29 a square foot.

King of Prussia, where the two other buildings are located, hasn’t fared as well. It has an overall vacancy rate of 18.2 percent, or more than 1.5 million square feet of empty space.

Walnut Hill is a four-story office complex of 150,572 square feet at 150 S. Warner Road in King of Prussia, and is half vacant. Oak Hill is four-story, 164,360-square-foot office property 200 N. Warner and is nearly fully occupied."

Developer buys 2040 Market St.

"PMC Property Group has put under agreement the former AAA Mid-Atlantic headquarters at 2040 Market St. in Center City and is drawing up plans for a residential complex at the property.

PMC is buying the five-story, 150,000-square-foot building from NorthStar Realty Finance Corp., which foreclosed on it last year, for an undisclosed sum, although it is expected to close at a little above $8 million, according to market sources.

PMC, which is headed up by Ron Caplan, a developer who has established a sizable presence in the Center City apartment market, will finalize the deal next month.

Though plans for the property are still being worked out, PMC plans an adaptive reuse project similar to one it did last year at 1830 Lombard St., said Jonathan Stavin, executive vice president at PMC. On Lombard, the company bought an 11-story office building that had once been used by Graduate Hospital and converted it into 185 apartments and constructed a 12-story addition with 24 rental units.

Stephen Varenhorst Architects is designing the AAA project, Stavin said.

“We haven’t decided exactly what we will do,” he said, noting it will also include a retail component.

Much can be done to the building, which has room to have an addition constructed atop it.

“We have found demand for new product in Center City is strong,” Stavin said, noting that 1830 Lombard leased up all of its apartments in just a year. “With this site, there is great proximity to downtown offices, it’s several blocks off Rittenhouse Square, and the access to University City and West Philadelphia is fantastic.”

Though it has taken some time, far West Market Street has gradually made the transition from an all-office corridor to one with a mix of residential projects. It began with the conversion in 2002 of the old After Six tuxedo factory by Thomas Properties Group and PMC into 168 apartments.

Later, Thomas Properties constructed with P&A Associates the Murano, a $165 million, 42-story condominium tower, and Orens Brothers converted the former Daily News building at 2200 Arch St. into condos. Other residential projects tried to follow, such as Opus East’s proposed development at 1919 Market that was killed because of a softening residential market. Brandywine Realty just bought the site and plans a mixed-use tower there.

There is room for additional rental housing in Center City. The vacancy rate in Center City dropped to 1.9 percent, and rents have risen, according to Delta Associates, a research firm. Monthly rents zoomed upward by 7.4 percent to an average of $1,918, or $1.88 a square foot.

Demand for rental housing continues, according to a Center City District report released in November. There are 39,000 apartments and other rental units downtown.

“While demand has softened slightly since 2007 levels, students, medical technicians, nurses, hotel and restaurant employees, as well as young professionals and new-to-the region employees continue to fill nearly all available units,” the report said.

The biggest challenge to the rental market is a “shadow market” of condo owners and investors who are trying to rent out their units, the report said.

The project at the AAA building will be a welcomed change for the neighborhood. It has been vacant since 2005 when the auto club completed moving its headquarters to Delaware.

Built in 1967 for AAA Mid-Atlantic, the property in its unoccupied state has taken on an untended appearance on the edge of the city’s Central Business District.

NorthStar Realty of New York foreclosed on its borrower, World Acquisition Partners Corp., last April and took control and title. World Acquisition, a commercial real estate investor and developer that had been based in Huntingdon Valley and amassed a portfolio of industrial properties in Northeast Philadelphia, bought the building in 2006. At the time, World Acquisition had become an active real estate player amid the real estate boom.

In 2007, the firm unveiled a set of grand plans for 2040 Market. One proposal entailed constructing a 53-story residential tower on top of the building and another scenario had a 35-story office addition atop it.

At one point, World Acquisition considered tearing the building down and starting anew but none of its plans ever came about.

The real estate company did obtain approval to expand the building and current zoning could permit as much as 750,000 square feet to be constructed on the site though it’s unlikely PMC will build something on that scale. Approvals are also in place for an underground garage to be built out and PMC does intend to construct the parking component."

Route 93 & Sugarloaf Road, Contyngham, PA Sells for $875,000

 "The lot is 1.5 acres and sold for $875,000. The buyer, Sheetz, plans on razing the former furniture store and developing the land for use as a convenience store. "

137 S. Main Street, North Wales Leases

"The lease of a 9,000 SF office building located at 137 S. Main Street, in the Borough of North Wales, Montgomery County, PA was signed. The building has been leased by 137 Associates to Montgomery Management Corp. for a multi-year term. The transaction is valued at approximately $175,000. The building, a converted mill was renovated into office space for Northeast American Construction Group in 2007 and will be operated by the Tenant as insurance offices."

Two New Office Leases signed in NJ

Laurelwood Office Complex signed two leases there.

1) At 1101 Laurel Oak Road, Zwicker & Associates will relocate its operation from Haddonfield to a 2,947 square foot suite.

2) At 1103 Laurel Oak Road, The Garver Group will relocate from Gibbsboro to a 6,099 square foot suite.

Buildings Sell in Harrisburg for $2.2

"The sale of a 36,303 square feet industrial office warehouse closed late January, which situated on Amity Road in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The sale closed on January 31, 2011 at the sales price of $2,215,000, which represents a 10.86 percent capitalization rate on current income. The seller, Natale Realty Company, Inc., a Pennsylvania corporation, The buyer, was DC Partners Amity Road, LLC, a Pennsylvania limited liability company.

"This property represented an opportunity to acquire two well-maintained, fully occupied, Class B flex buildings in the Harrisburg East industrial submarket," stated the broker. "The two tenants, JST Manufacturing Company, one of the top ten connector manufacturers in the world, and R.E. Michel Company, Inc., one of the largest wholesale distributors of HVAC equipment in the country, benefit from the property's close proximity to Interstate 81, Interstate 83 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. 421 Amity Road was a combination of a strong tenant base, recent construction and renovations, net leases and minimal deferred maintenance which allows the new owners to step right in and maintain a steady cash flow for years to come.

After exhausting our marketing efforts with local investors, we expanded the campaign to regional buyers from Washington D.C. through New York. The ultimate buyer was a partnership formed between two investors based in Northern New Jersey and New York City. It was clear that local buyers were looking backwards at value while buyers from out of town saw stability and long-term upside," he added."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

CNBC Realty Check: Commercial Property


Colin Dyer, CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle told CNBC in Davos VIDEO 4:19

"The institutional investors...have really stayed in the sector, right through the crisis, but they're in a mode now of picking up new assets and new investments and buying mode again," Colin Dyer, CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle told CNBC in Davos on the global real estate market."

Market Trend: Philadelphia’s Retail Vacancy Decreases to 6.7%

"The Philadelphia retail market experienced a slight improvement in market conditions in the fourth quarter 2010.

The vacancy rate went from 7.0% in the previous quarter to 6.7% in the current quarter. Net absorption was positive 2,135,613 square feet, and vacant sublease space decreased by (68,232) square feet.

Quoted rental rates decreased from third quarter 2010 levels, ending at $14.28 per square foot per year.

A total of 20 retail buildings with 888,687 square feet of retail space were delivered to the market in the quarter, with 1,559,631 square feet still under construction at the end of the quarter."