Saturday, March 31, 2012

Retail REITs: A Sweet Spot? (Video)

Opportunities in Commercial Realty (Video)

New Phila.-area McLaren dealership one of only eight in U.S.

"McLaren Automotive, which sells high-end sports cars with six-figure sticker prices, is opening a suburban Philadelphia dealership Wednesday.

McLaren has only eight U.S. dealerships: In Beverly Hills, Calif.; Chicago; Dallas; Greenwich, Conn.; Newport Beach, Calif.; San Francisco; Tampa, Fla.; and now West Chester, Pa., at 1631 West Chester Pike.

The British sports car maker was founded in 1963 by a New Zealander, Bruce McLaren. Under his guidance, the racing team won its first Grand Prix Formula One race in 1968, the first of many. Motor Trend magazine says McLaren and Ferrari have two of the most successful Formula One programs in history.

Its street-legal cars are known for high performance, a lightweight aluminum frame and an engine that generates a neck-spraining 592 horsepower. McLaren’s site doesn’t seem to list sticker prices, but Auto Week reports that the base price for a 2012 McLaren MP4-12C is $231,400."

Cloud-communications firm Alteva coming to Market St.

A Philadelphia-based provider of cloud-based unified-communications services that was bought by a phone company in New York state last summer is moving into a new headquarters that will eventually also house its new parent.

Alteva, which was bought by Warwick Valley Telephone Co. for $17 million in cash and stock, is taking 9,000 square feet on the ground floor of the Wells Fargo & Co. building on the 400 block of Market Street. The space includes a former bank branch, which Alteva will use as a presentation center.

“We want people to understand that we have a presence in Philadelphia and get to know who we are as a company,” said David Cuthbert, the president of Alteva and an executive vice president and the chief operating officer of its parent.

Alteva will retain the space it has in the Bourse Building for its engineers.

The company needs the additional space because it’s growing like a weed. It employs 145 at all its locations, including 60 in Philadelphia, and has 20 open positions.
Full story:

Providence Town Center closing in on leasing goal

by Natalie Kostelni

" Three years ago, the sprawling Providence Town Center was a reflection of the toll the recession was taking on retail projects.

It was struggling to get tenants.

The center on 80 acres off Routes 422 and 29 was desolate but for a Wegmans and some other big box tenants including Raymour &Flanigan, Dick’s Sporting Goods and L.A. Fitness. But they only filled a fraction of the space — a combined 277,000 square feet out of the entire 760,000-square-foot center.

Other developers of large retail and mixed-use projects in the region were also hit by the recession, the credit crunch or a combination of factors that affected businesses. Tenants put plans on hold and others just weren’t comfortable expanding during the economic downturn.

Brandolini Cos., the Berwyn developer of the $200 million project, wasn’t anywhere close to reaching its goal to have the lifestyle center fully leased by October — in 2009. That was a goal Brandolini missed, but now that the economy is showing signs of a recovery, retail tenants and consumer spending are making a comeback.

“There’s definitely more activity, but it’s a new environment and new world. I think people, whether they are developers, brokers or tenants, are getting used to working in that environment.”

Five years ago there were more tenants than spaces to fill. Today’s it’s the opposite, Samtmann said. Because of that, landlords and tenants are working hard with each other to do deals.

In the case of Providence Town Center, the developer has been proactive but discriminating about which tenants it has leased space to.

“They need to be cautious of the tenants they put in there to maintain a certain level of rent, a certain level of traffic and synergy of those tenants.”

Around the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011, David Waterman, a leasing executive with Brandolini, started to see signs tenants were getting interested in leasing space again and got the green light to do more deals.

Tenants that recently opened at the center included Chico’s, White House Black Market, Charming Charlie, Tilly’s, Razr Bar, Massage Envy and Firebirds Restaurant. Last week, Brandolini signed on Jos. A. Bank men’s store for 4,500 square feet and Parmida Home for 9,500 square feet.

“We’re approaching a precipice at the center,” Waterman said. “We’re approaching 80 percent leased and opened.”

The company has another 10 percent or more under letter of intent and in active negotiations. By the end of the year, Waterman expects the center to be 90 percent leased and opened.

“We have 80,000 [square feet] to go,” Waterman said.

When Movie Tavern signed a lease at Providence Town Center in July 2010, the center was still weighed down by a lot of vacancy.

“It reminded me of when I worked at Paramount Studios and looking out at a back lot,” said John Herkser, president of the Dallas-based theater chain. “There were lots of buildings and no people.”

In spite of that, the company signed on for 30,000 square feet at the faux town center.

“We knew it was a good area and a growing area,” Herkser recalled.

Movie Tavern opened last spring and has been a success since day one, he said. Movie-goers not only come from nearby towns but also as far as Reading and Philadelphia. On most Fridays and Saturdays movies on its eight screens are almost always sold out. That was expected last weekend when it dedicated all of its auditoriums to showing highly anticipated “The Hunger Games.”

“It has just really exceeded our expectations,” Herkser said.

Wegman’s was a bit of a pioneer. It opened a 132,000-square-foot store in October 2009 when the recession was in full throttle and much of the center empty. It didn’t matter. Shoppers came in droves.

“We are very pleased with the success of our Collegeville store,” said Jo Natalie, Wegmans spokeswoman in an email. “Sales are outpacing company growth, and as more tenant spaces are filled, we anticipate that sales will continue to grow.”

The grocer does expect some sales will shift to its King of Prussia store when it opens in May, but that was projected.

When leasing was a challenge, Brandolini decided to seek out more regional and local retail tenants to fill portions of the second phase space. That was a shift in its initial strategy to concentrate on lining up only well-recognized national names and brands. But that’s as far as it veered from its plans. Well-capitalized, the company didn’t have to settle on tenants that didn’t necessarily fit what it had planned.

“We had a vision for the property to create a vibrant project that separated itself from the rest of the shopping centers,” Waterman said. “We held onto the long-term vision of the project and were willing to weather the storm.”
Full story:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

T-Mobile Consolidating Call Center Ops; Ditching 7 Facilities

"T-Mobile USA Inc. plans to consolidate its call center operations from 24 to 17 facilities by the end of June.

"Concentrating call centers is an important step to achieve competitive cost structures to successfully compete as challenger and value player in the wireless market," said Philipp Humm, CEO and president of T-Mobile. "These are not easy steps to take, but they are necessary to realize efficiency in order to invest for growth."

Call centers scheduled for closure are located in: Allentown, Pennsylvania; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Frisco, Texas; Brownsville, Texas; Lenexa, Kansas; Thornton, Colorado and Redmond, Oregon. Affected call centers will remain open for another three months.

This consolidation effort will result in 1,900 net job reductions. T-Mobile employs approximately 3,300 people at the seven affected facilities. However, the company will begin hiring immediately at the remaining 17 call centers and expects to fill as many as 1,400 positions to continue to meet customer needs.

T-Mobile Call Center location:
* Allentown, PA; 794 Roble Road * Ft. Lauderdale, FL; 1100 West McNab Road
* Frisco, TX; 7624 Warren Parkway
* Brownsville, TX; 1 CSR Drive
* Lenexa, KS; 9601 Renner Blvd."

Rubenstein Partners Acquires Philadelphia Office for $13M

"Wells Fargo Advisors LLC sold the Northbrook Corporate Center office building at 1150 Northbrook Dr. in Trevose, PA to Rubenstein Partners LP for $13 million, or about $121 per square foot.

The 107,742-square-foot, class A office building sits 9.5 acres in the Lower Bucks County submarket of Philadelphia. The property was at 93% occupancy when it changed hands."

Ancillare Global Clinical Strategies Takes 80,000 SF

"Ancillare Global Clinical Strategies signed a lease for 80,050 square feet of space located at 700 Enterprise Rd. in Horsham, PA.

Located in the Keith Valley Business Park, this location allows quick access to all major roadways. The industrial building features 21,400 square feet of built-out office space, overhead cranes, 24-foot ceiling heights and numerous loading docks and drive in bays."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nestlé Renews 1M SQFT in Lehigh Valley

"CapLease, Inc. (NYSE: LSE) executed a lease renewal with Nestlé Holdings, Inc. for its 1,045,153-square-foot industrial property at 555 Nestle Way in Macungie, PA.

The lease will commence on January 1, 2013 for a term of five years. Contract rent is $4.40 per square foot, increasing 3% per annum.

Nestlé's distribution building was constructed in 1994 on 86 acres in the Lehigh Valley Industrial submarket of Philadelphia.

CapLease, Inc., which owns the building, is a real estate investment trust (REIT) focusing on single-tenant commercial properties with long-term leases to high-credit quality tenants."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Takes MOB Space in West Chester

Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital, a Division of Main Line Hospitals, Inc., has leased 6,139 square feet of medical office space at 1060 Andrew Drive in West Chester, PA.

The aggregate rental of the lease is in $690,000. The tenant will be moving into its new facility in April.
Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital is a comprehensive rehabilitation services provider for brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, multiple trauma, amputations, and other orthopedic and neurological conditions.

Situated at the corner of Andrew Drive and Phoenixville Pike right at the entrance of the West Goshen Business Park, the 43,180 square foot office building features a two-story atrium lobby and is adjacent to a bank and day-care center. Tenants currently include Stantec Consulting Services, Inc., Strategic Wealth Management Advisors, LLC. and Communications Construction Group, LLC.

Sport Clips Signs Sixth Lease in Philadelphia Region

"Sports Clips has signed its 6th lease in the Philadelphia region as part of its store roll out campaign in the Philadelphia MSA.

Sports Clips' most recent lease signing was at the Cross Keys Commons Shopping Center in Turnersville, NJ.

In 2011, Sports Clips opened for business at Park East Plaza in Cherry Hill, NJ; Nassau Pavilion in Princeton, NJ; The Shoppes at English Village in North Wales, PA; Providence Town Center in Collegeville, PA, and at the Marketplace at Neshaminy, in Bensalem, PA.

Headquartered in Georgetown, TX, Sports Clips currently has 700 units nationwide."

Turning Problem Properties Into Profits (Video)

Cozen O’Connor firm eying jump to Reed Smith’s ‘Place’

by Natalie Kostelni
"Cozen O’Connor has zeroed in on One Liberty Place as its top spot to relocate its Center City law offices.

The firm is reportedly seeking to secure space that will eventually be vacated by law firm Reed Smith, according to people familiar with the situation. If Cozen signs a lease at One Liberty, it would finally put to an end what has become a bit of a saga in the local commercial real estate scene.

A Cozen move has other implications. It would close a big gap at One Liberty but create a huge hole in the Stock Exchange building, a 456,922-square-foot property at 1900 Market St. Cozen also declined comment.

Cozen had been seriously looking at Three Logan Square. In the meantime, space in Center City’s trophy towers has gotten tighter.

Reed Smith late last year decided to move its Center City offices to Three Logan after spending more than 20 years at One Liberty. It signed a long-term lease on 115,000 square feet at the building at 1717 Arch St. and will move in early 2014.

The Reed Smith deal meant that One Liberty, a 58-story skyscraper at 1650 Market St., would have a 150,000-square-foot vacant hole on floors 23 through 28 and a portion of the 22nd — creating an opportunity for Cozen to swoop in and try to get the space.

The timing would work.

Cozen won an arbitration to stay in the Stock Exchange building for another five years, which began running in January 2011 and expires at the end of 2015. It is reportedly paying rents in the high teens at the Stock Exchange. Cozen was the first tenant in the building back in 1981.

The office property already has about 100,000 square feet of contiguous space available on the 7th and 8th floors. A Cozen move would practically empty out the building and position it for larger tenants, a major renovation, or even for a different use. It was last renovated 16 years ago, making it a tad tired compared with some other office buildings in town."
Full story:

Firms start increasing their space

by Natalie Kostelni
"Office tenants have finally started to grow after retrenching or holding steady during the recession.

Tenants from a range of sectors across the region are expanding and adding space in what many take as a sign the office market is on track to strengthen this year if the economic recovery continues to gain momentum.

Some of the growth is pent-up demand and some is being driven by an increase in business activity. In some cases, it is related to new hiring.

“We are seeing our clients looking closer at expansion plans more today than in the past three to four years.”

Several law firms, including Conrad O’Brien, Greising Law and Stradley Ronon, have grown recently and are taking more square feet.

“It’s not insignificant either,” he said.

Greising is doubling from 5,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet at Three Logan, Conrad O’Brien is growing by 40 percent and Stradley Ronon committed to grow its space by 10 percent in Philadelphia and 40 percent in Washington, D.C.

Sonepar Management USA signed a 10-year lease on 20,481 square feet for its North American headquarters at Penn Mutual Towers. It had been in 13,589 square feet in the building. In the other deal, Landmark Legal Solutions plans to relocate from 3,024 square feet at Suburban Station into 4,556 square feet at 10 Penn Center.

“Smaller businesses are starting to grow a little bit."

10 tenants in South Jersey are expanding. For example: Lyons Doughty, a law firm, was in 11,000 square feet and took another 4,000; GrayHair Software is taking an additional 4,000 square feet on top of the 8,000 square feet it is currently in; Actelion Pharmaceuticals is growing to 40,000 square feet from 35,000; a home nursing company is growing by 60 percent as it takes 8,000 square feet on top of its existing 12,000; and a senior care firm is doubling to 10,000 square feet.

“What I like is it is a lot of different industries, which I think shows a healthier trend.” .

Another client, a business equipment leasing company is looking for more space. It experienced a dip as business pulled back during the last three years but has already seen incredible growth during the past year. At first, that growth was back filling and now it has gone even further. The company is projecting it will need even more space in the next two years.

During the recession, many office tenants either shrank or made do with the office space they had as they figured out the direction of the economy. In the past few months that has changed.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many feel comfortable to expand and I’m thrilled that this is happening in an election year and six to nine months before an election. In the past, we have seen them sit around and wait.”

One area that is showing consistent growth is health care and this is despite any push back against health-care reform.

“One very bright spot has been medical,” said vice president at Liberty Property Trust who oversees the real estate investment trust’s South Jersey portfolio. “Hopefully, medical will absorb a significant amount of vacancy.”

Of Liberty’s 4.5 million square feet in New Jersey, 19 percent is now occupied by medical or medical-related tenants.

One of the biggest changes in the market is future outlook. Tenants are finally feeling more optimistic after an extended period of uncertainty. Companies had been worried whether they were going to survive and once they realized they were going to make it, they held steady until business picked up.

“Now it’s not the return of 2005, but it’s certainly better and some see modest growth.”
Full story:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

McKee Group Pays $4.5M for Springfield Office

"McKee Group acquired the three-story office building at 760 W. Sproul Rd. in Springfield, PA from J.J. DeLuca Co., Inc. for $4.5 million, or about $114 per square foot.

The office building totals 39,600 square feet. It was delivered in 1970 in the Delaware County submarket of Philadelphia."

Creekside Plaza Trades for $3.1M

"Redwood Holdings sold the Creekside Plaza at 1207 Macdade Blvd. in Collingdale, PA to CLD Creekside LP and Dublin Village 1 LLC for $3.1 million, or approximately $309 per square foot.

The 10,030-square-foot retail building was built in 2003 in the Delaware County submarket of Philadelphia."

Horsham board OKs base redevelopment plan

"The Horsham Land Reuse Authority board voted 7-1 Wednesday afternoon to move forward with the preferred land use plan for the closed Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base.

Now, the 862-acre ball (that represents 8 percent of Horsham’s land) is in the federal government’s court as the plan is expected to be sent for final approval by the March 31 deadline.

The lone “no” vote came from authority member Steve Nelson, who represents the Montgomery County commissioners and is acting director for the Montgomery County Planning Commission.

Nelson had expressed concerns about increased traffic that would come from the proposal that includes more than 1,400 new residential units.

The authority hired land planning consultants RKG Associates to develop the reuse map that includes an approximately 2.5-mile boulevard that would dissect the property along the closed runway from Keith Valley Road as well as extensions of Privet, Precision and Norristown roads running into the property.

Nelson took issue with the fact that the plan did not address regional traffic issues specifically enough for the complete build-out that is estimated to take 20 to 30 years.

He wanted studies done to include County Line Road, Horsham Road and Route 611, including the Pennsylvania Turnpike Exchange.

“I remain concerned about traffic,” Nelson said. “The project here is bigger than the borough of Hatboro. It does not adequately address it. Now is the time we need to start looking at that.”

Board members, including Nelson, did have a meeting with PennDOT officials over the plan on Tuesday.

Horsham Land Reuse Authority Executive Director Mike McGee, also the former longtime Horsham manger, said the PennDOT meeting was productive and evidence that the board is being proactive to address not only traffic the base project will generate, but traffic issues now.

McGee said the idea is to get input from not only Montgomery County officials, but Bucks County officials as well, to develop a long-term regional traffic study.

The board on Wednesday also authorized staff, including McGee and deputy director Tom Ames, to apply for a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to perform the study and look at ways to obtain more grants from both the federal and state government for projects.

As for the plan passed Wednesday, McGee told Nelson it was more similar to a broad, comprehensive plan municipalities create to look at future redevelopment and not a specific “development plan.”

“I think Mr. Nelson is correct. The traffic input (on the plan) does not address a regional solution, but does address this property,” McGee said. “What we need right now is a plan (for Willow Grove). We need the board to say they like the plan so we can start the work to implement it.”

When Nelson said he thought the map was a development plan, the board’s solicitor, Mary Eberle, strongly sided with McGee. Eberle also works as solicitor for Horsham and other local municipalities and said the Willow Grove reuse map is not like a true development map that would show detours and other specifics.

Those details would be addressed later as land is transferred and the new owners go through the municipal planning process, Eberle said.

Nelson was also the only reuse member to vote for keeping the 8,000-foot runway open. Two proposals were shot down in July 2011, one submitted by Montgomery County and the other by the Bucks County Airport Authority.

Nelson said his “no” vote Wednesday had nothing to do with the runway issue that was by far the most contentious piece of the redevelopment puzzle over the past several years.

About 40 people attended the meeting in the Horsham Township Building, but the only one to speak was David Pitcairn. Pitcairn does not live in Horsham, but his family has old ties to the property before the Navy acquired it.

Pitcairn said he wanted the board to consider giving a large hangar to the Wings of Freedom Museum that is part of the redevelopment plan. The board had discussed the issue at length at previous meetings and voted to give the museum just over 13 acres for its expansion, but not the property that the hangar sits on.

McGee said Wednesday the hangar, as well as nearly 100 structures, will need to be demolished because they will sit vacant for years without utilities and because many will have to be brought up to code.

The highlight of the proposed plan is a 27-acre, mixed-use town center of residential, business, retail and open space located between Route 611 and Horsham Road near Norristown Road. Local officials hope it will drive the development economically and recreationally.

The largest amount of acreage — 213.5 — is planned for roads and sidewalks, followed by 204 acres put aside for open space, including a par-3 golf course, playing fields and parkland.

The residential portion of the recommended reuse plan includes 1,416 units: 90 large-lot single family units; 250 small-lot single family units; 350 townhomes; 400 apartment/condominiums; and 326 continuing care units for the elderly.

The Hatboro-Horsham School District was also approved for 40 acres for a proposed middle school.

The total for combined public and private infrastructure costs is estimated at approximately $160 million, according to reuse authority chairman William Whiteside.

RKG vice president Russell Archambault listened in by conference call. He has estimated the plan could generate $5 million annually in revenues.

The vote was hardly a surprise as the map has remained virtually the same for the past two months after about six years of planning and public input.

Now, the Department of Defense will receive a copy by the end of the month and review its viability and ability to generate revenue. The Department of Housing and Urban Development also must determine proper consideration was given to aid the homeless as mandated by federal law associated with military surplus property.

McGee said the authority is in the “home stretch” of signing legal binding agreements for the homeless plan submitted by the Bucks County Housing Group, Genesis Housing Corp. and The Reinvestment Fund that proposes to construct 70 units of supportive housing on 10 acres planned for near Route 611, just south of the 200-acre Horsham Air Guard Station."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Victory Brewing Company Announces Expansion

"In 2012, Downingtown’s own Victory Brewing Company (of 420 Acorn Lane) will reach capacity. What does this mean for us Victory beer-obsessed folks?

Downingtown Dish is thrilled to announce that as of this morning, Tuesday, March 20, Victory announces that they have signed a lease-to-purchase agreement for a facility in Parkesburg, PA to serve as a second brewery (that’s right – a second Victory brewing operation in Chester County!). This will allow the award-winning brewing company to keep up with consumer demand of their current product portfolio and will give them the much-needed space to develop new, exciting flavors.

“Our thirsty fans have been asking us for more,” said Bill Covaleski, President and Co-Brewmaster of Victory Brewing Company, in this morning’s release. “In order to give them what they want, we need more space to make it happen.”

The new brewery location was chosen because of its similarities to Victory’s home in Downingtown. Just as the home brewery recycled an old Pepperidge Farm factory, the expansion brewery is being built within an existing complex in Parkesburg, Pa. The Downingtown location is situated a mere 14 miles from the headwaters of the east branch of the Brandywine Creek and the Parkesburg brewery will be just 17 miles from the headwaters of the west branch.

Environmental impact and water quality were major considerations for this expansion. Nearly eight months of water-quality research found that the mineral composition of the west branch water is nearly identical to the east branch.

In keeping with Victory’s “locally brewed, locally loved” motto, the choice to expand was not made lightly. The Parkesburg location will allow Victory to produce even more locally-brewed and -loved beer – plus, offer more local jobs.

To learn more about Victory Brewing Company, visit them on the web at Stay tuned to for more developments on the area’s coming-soon second brewery!"

Office Space Hopium (Video)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day - Guinness Celebrates the Perfect Pour (Video)

South Jersey office space in doldrums

by Natalie Kostelni
"Nearly a dozen South Jersey office buildings are in a state of transition.

This comes after mortgage lenders who originally made loans on the buildings regained control of the properties and are trying to shore up vacancies in preparation for an eventual sale. In other cases, after having taken the building back from owners, these financial institutions have sold the loans at deep discounts and moved on.

The South Jersey office market has been challenged.

Many landlords have been overwhelmed with large vacancies and a dearth of tenants to fill the space. In some instances, deep pocketed landlords could strike attractive deals with tenants while other owners, particularly those with Class B and Class C office space, couldn’t compete for deals.

“I think it’s a local realization of what has been happening all over the country. I don’t think it’s a poor reflection on the people who are losing their properties but a reflection of the market. The market is struggling. If you’re looking for 5,000 square feet and put a pin on the map at Route 73 and Fellowship Road, you’ll hit 100-plus within a five-mile radius.”

The South Jersey office market in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties totals 17.6 million square feet. Of that space, more than 3.3 million square feet is vacant. That puts the overall vacancy rate at 19.27 percent. Class B space is faring even worse with a 24.64 percent vacancy rate.

Howard Needleman, who runs Needleman Management and owns dozens of office properties in South Jersey, sees a deeper problem plaguing that market.

“The No. 1 problem in South Jersey is there are no new tenants,” Needleman said. “South Jersey consists of a lot of lawyers, an enormous amount of medical facilities and a couple of major tenants such as Comcast and Lockheed Martin Lockheed Martin Latest from The Business Journals Follow this company but there is no new Lockheed Martin. There is no new new coming in.”

As a result, many existing South Jersey tenants contracted during the recession. That meant little to no space has been absorbed, he said. Another issue compounding matters has been tenants who have moved out of Class B and C space into A space on the cheap, leaving the lesser buildings in weaker locations to flounder.

“There’s too much space and not enough companies moving in,” Needleman said.

Consider 51 Haddonfield Road in Cherry Hill. The 96,419-square-foot building has 76,032 square feet available as some firms relocated or went out of business. The building was bought in 2008 for $11.6 million. Later, Bank of America took the property back and a New York firm is on track to buy the note for $3.3 million. At the Fairways Corporate Center, two buildings — 4300 and 4350 Haddonfield Road — are suffering steep vacancies and have their notes up for sale. In Voorhees, 401 White Horse Road went into special servicing. The 222,000-square-foot building has 85,000 square feet vacant.

Three Executive Campus in Cherry Hill is another property that took a hit. Years ago, Stone & Webster Engineering Corp. occupied the entire 444,873-square-foot structure but by 2000 it had filed Chapter. 11 and was sold to the Shaw Group Inc. Shaw had been in 150,000 square feet in the building but moved out and now about half of it is empty. The loan was sold and foreclosed upon. Five and Six Executive Campus also have their loans up for sale. Five Executive, a 65,000-square-foot building, is filled but Six Executive has half of its 100,000 square feet vacant.

Though many of these buildings are in transition, some believe their situation has the potential to eventually help stabilize the market. It might bring in some fresh, new ownership to the market, which can give the market a boost.

These buyers may get such good deals acquiring the properties that they can finally bring a cash infusion to reposition the properties, take care of some deferred maintenance and even strike some deals to bring in tenants.

Some see an opportunity to take another stab at a property.

“I hate to see good owners disappear or get hurt in the process but in some cases, they may actually be the ones who are successful at buying the properties back at a better price and repositioning the properties accordingly.”
Full story:

Einstein’s East Norriton hospital set for Sept. debut

The Einstein Healthcare Network’s new $365 million hospital is on schedule for a September debut. The health system is so confident in that timeline it is counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the opening on its website.

“Everything will be brand spanking new,” said Richard Montalbano, an Einstein vice president and project executive, during a tour last week of the central Montgomery County hospital. “The technology here will be extraordinary. Every aspect of the digital hospital is incorporated in the project, and all the technology talks to each other. All that information will be immediately [and securely] available to multiple users at multiple locations.”

Einstein, based in Philadelphia, is building on a 82-acre property in East Norriton off Germantown Pike north of Route 202 that previously housed Wood’s Golf Center — known locally as Woody’s.

The project started as part of a joint venture forged about five years ago between Einstein and Montgomery Hospital and Medical Center in Norristown. The medical center is being built for the aging and largely landlocked Montgomery Hospital Medical Center Montgomery Hospital Medical Center Latest from The Business Journals Follow this company , which joined the Einstein network last year.

In addition to the 363,000-square-foot hospital, a separate 75,000-square-foot medical office building at the site is being developed by Einstein in a partnership with Chicago-based Alter Care.

The new medical center will feature an array of advanced services and facilities including 24-hour emergency care; cancer care; open-heart surgery, cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology laboratories; and robotic, minimally invasive, endovascular, thoracic, cardiothoracic, breast, colorectal and bariatric surgery.

Among the hospital’s features, Montalbano said, will be all private rooms (146 to start but with the capacity to grow to 218) with views of a sprawling farm across Germantown Pike. In additional to 96 medical/surgical beds, the hospital will have a 22-bed critical-care unit, a 20-bed obstetrical unit with six labor/delivery/recovery rooms and 16 well-baby bassinets and an eight-bed Level III neonatal intensive-care unit.

The medical/surgical rooms will be divided into zones for caregivers, patients and families, he said, adding every room will have a sofa that converts into a bed.

The rooms are also designed with small windows that will allow doors to be closed at night to minimize noise, while still giving nurses a way to check on patients. In addition, all the rooms were equipped with patient lifts — at a cost of $1 million — to reduce injuries incurred by caregivers when moving patients.

“Everything is designed to minimize patient movement,” Montalbano said. “The idea is to bring the therapy to the patients in the private rooms, rather than move the patients to the therapy. Next to the emergency room, we have a dedicated elevator that connects directly to the operating rooms.”

Montalbano said the hospital is also designed to make it easy for visitors to get around. “There’s only two doors into the place [excluding emergency room entrances],” he said.

It will feature an atrium with plentiful sunlight. “We didn’t want this to look like a traditional hospital,” Montalbano said.

Upon opening, the hospital will be the third replacement hospital in the Philadelphia region in the past two years. In 2011, Virtua opened a $463 million, 368-bed replacement hospital in Voorhees. Later in the year, Capital Health System opened a $540 million, 237-bed hospital in Hopewell, N.J., to replace another hospital in Trenton.

In the five-county Philadelphia area, the most recent replacement hospital to open was St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in 1990. A specialty surgical hospital opened in Bensalem in 2009, then changed hands and is now operated as the Rothman Specialty Hospital, and in Royersford, Physicians Care Surgical Hospital opened in 2010.

Einstein is financing the project largely through $309.4 million of Federal Housing Administration mortgage revenue bonds.
Last month, Fitch Ratings analyst Michael Burger downgraded the rating on $133 million in other bonds issued for Einstein by the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority’ to BBB+ from A-. But he raised his rating outlook for Einstein to stable from negative.

Burger said the downgrade reflects declines in profitability and liquidity at Einstein, noting the health system’s operating margin dropped to a negative 1.7 percent during the last six months of 2011. He did say he viewed favorably the opening of the new hospital in East Norriton, saying it should help Einstein grow market share in a better payor mix environment, which will allow it to continue serving its “current challenged service area” in North and Northeast Philadelphia.

Einstein experienced some local opposition to the project, which Montalbano said is understandable given hospitals are always open and have late-night shift changes and emergency vehicles arriving at all hours. He said the health system worked to minimize the impact. In addition, he noted, the fees the health system are paying are being used to fund improvements to the township including widening Germantown Pike from two lanes to five.

“And I have no doubt this facility will save lives of members of this community,” he said.
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rittenhouse Hotel Sold for $42M

"A joint venture between Rittenhouse Development Company and GE Investment Corporation has sold its 111 -room Rittenhouse Hotel to Hersha Hospitality Trust for $42 million, or about $378,000 per key.

210 W. Rittenhouse Sq. in Philadelphia, PA is a 27-story, 200,000-square-foot hospitality facility that features 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. It was constructed in 1989 in Philadelphia County."

Abrams Run Apartments Trade for $31.4M

Gambone Brothers Construction Co. sold the 192-unit Abrams Run Apartments to Morgan Properties for $31.4 million, or about $164,000 per unit.

Located at 90-115 Bill Smith Blvd. in King of Prussia, PA, the 12-building multifamily community was built in 1996. The property sits on more than 16 acres and is comprised of 48 one-bedroom and 144 two-bedroom units.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New development coming to Bethlehem Steel property

"Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan outlined $56 million in projects at his annual 'State of the City' breakfast Wednesday morning.

Callahan said Liberty Property Trust has filed plans to construct an 800,000 square-foot warehouse on former Bethlehem Steel property in Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII.

He also said another 170,000-square-foot project is in the development phase along the Route 412 corridor, former Bethlehem Steel property.

Callahan said Liberty Trust started construction of a 1.2 million square foot warehouse off Commerce Center Boulevard last year.

He said all that represents about $2.2 million of new development and a private sector investment of about $120 million in Bethlehem, much of it speculative because it is being built without tenants.

"If we build it they will come," said Callahan."

Almac to spend $10M to expand in Montco

"Almac Group, the Northern Ireland-based provider of services to the pharmaceutical industry, will spend $10 million expanding a commercial packaging operation in Audubon, Pa.

"The privately held company, which moved its U.S. headquarters to Souderton in 2011, said it had been bulk manufacturing and packaging U.S. products from its location in the United Kingdom.

"With the addition of the Audubon facility, we will now be able to offer these packaging services local to the U.S. marketplace, providing cost saving and mitigating supply risks," said David Downey, Almac's vice president for commercial operations, in a statement.

Plans call for the new 100,000-square-foot operation in Montgomery County to open in the fall.

In other bricks-and-mortar news, the privately held FXI (once known as Foamex International) has opened a new "Research and Innovation Center" in Aston, Delaware County. That's where the Media-based company's chemists and engineers will work to turn foam into products for the home furnishings, health-care, electronics, automotive and other industries."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

69th Street Philadelphia Loan Delinquent

The $60.4 million 69th Street Philadelphia loan was 30 days delinquent the month after it was transferred to special servicing, according to Trepp.

The loan is collateralized by the 666,000 square foot retail property in Upper Darby, PA that listed Sears, Marshalls and a UA Theater as its top tenants at the loan's securitization. The property was built in 1927 and renovated in 2005.

Trepp reports that the servicer watchlist notes from November say that the retail center's occupancy started to decline in the middle of 2010 after maintaining occupancy rates in the upper 70 percent range since the middle of 2005.

The note is scheduled to mature in July 2015.

Fast Money Portfolio: Commercial Real Estate (Video)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Real Returns: Investing in Foreclosures (Video)

Solid Wood Cabinet Opens 5 Sites

"Solid Wood Cabinet Co., based in Levittown, has leased retail stores at Norriton Square, Norristown; Center Point, Warminster; East Gate Square; Moorestown; and two sites in North Jersey.
The company, which has warehouses in Levittown, Baltimore and Ocean County NJ, is scouting for at least 10 additional locations to open this year in the North Jersey-Baltimore corridor."

Cramer: Time to Sell Apartment REITs (Video)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Provco Grp Pays $3.5M for Northwyn Court Apartments

"The Provco Group acquired the 32-unit Northwyn Court Apartments at 803 E. Boot Rd. in West Chester, PA from private investors for $3.5 million, or about $109,000 per unit.

The apartment building was delivered in 1971 in the West Chester submarket. It totals 45,000 square feet."

Penn State Pays $3.1M for Vacant Auto Dealership

"Penn State Abington acquired the 20,000-square-foot former Saturn dealership at 1001 Old York Rd. in Abington, PA from Harbinson York Road for $3.1 million, or about $155 per square foot.

The 20,000-square-foot retail building was vacant at the time of sale. Penn State has purchased the building to add a campus location in Abington, in Montgomery County."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Philadelphia's City Planning Commission OKs a master plan for the Delaware riverfront

"More than five years in the making, a new master plan for a six-mile stretch of the central Delaware River was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission.

Despite objections from a group representing property owners, the eight commissioners adopted the development plan for the waterfront from Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia to Allegheny Avenue in Port Richmond.

"This area has languished for too long," said Commissioner Joseph Syrnick. "It needs a plan."

The master plan calls for more low-rise buildings, a waterfront trail, better public access to the river, parks every half-mile, and extension of the city's street grid to the water's edge.

About 100 people attended the meeting at the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia, including many from neighborhood groups that participated in the planning process.

Neil Sklaroff, an attorney for the owner of one of the largest undeveloped tracts on the waterfront, said that while much of the plan was "wonderful," it nevertheless would have a "devastating effect" on his client, James Anderson, a Bucks County construction company owner.

Anderson controls 57 acres of waterfront land - either directly or through partnerships - on the northern end of the district.

Sklaroff said the plan, with its proposal for a waterfront trail and extension of streets, would chop up Anderson's two parcels into 13.

"They didn't need to adopt this," he said after the meeting.

As part of the plan, the city would need to invest $770 million over 25 years to upgrade the infrastructure and public spaces along the central Delaware.

G. Craig Schelter, executive director of the Development Workshop, an advocacy group for private property owners along the Delaware, criticized the plan as "overly aspirational."

In a letter he read to the commission, Schelter said there was no "reasonable expectation" that the city could afford to carry out the plan.

He added that the master plan will "impose public access rights on private property without compensation, which is bad planning."

Ninety percent of the land in the central Delaware is privately owned, most of it on the northern and southern ends of the district. Schelter argued that there was "no urgency" to proceed with the master plan.

He argued that it would have been better for the commission to focus on the area between Washington Avenue and Spring Garden Street, where the city controls large tracts of land, including the site of the old municipal incinerator.

By having so many encumbrances imposed by the new master plan, owners will be in "development limbo," Schelter said.

"Why would you approve such a plan when you know you can't afford it?" he asked.

The commission will use it to guide future decisions on waterfront land use. It also will be used as a reference in a remapping of the zoning for the waterfront.

Planning for the waterfront began in 2006. John F. Street, mayor at the time, commissioned Penn Praxis, an arm of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design, to conduct a broad dialogue on what the waterfront should look like.

With unprecedented input from stakeholders as well as neighbors, Penn Praxis presented a "civic vision" in 2008. It called for better public access to the waterfront, restored wetlands, more recreational outlets, low-rise neighborhoods, and no big-box stores or residential skyscrapers.

From that, the Delaware River Waterfront Corp. (DRWC), a quasi-city agency, developed a blueprint for the six miles of waterfront. Last October, all the nonprofit's directors - including Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger, who heads the Planning Commission - endorsed the plan.

Thomas Corcoran, executive director of the DRWC, said a master plan will help development, not hinder it, by clearly setting a direction for the waterfront.

"I fail to see how this has a devastating effect on anyone," Corcoran said.

He said DRWC was already moving ahead on various fronts to advance the vision for the waterfront, including:

Expanding the park at Washington Green near Pier 53.

Studying different potential uses for Pier 9, which is owned by DRWC.

Improving the appearance of Spring Garden Street and Columbia Avenue "connectors" - the public corridors leading to the waterfront.

Expanding a trail from Spring Garden to SugarHouse Casino and its existing waterfront pathway.

"We're establishing the right things at the right scale," Greenberger said.

He added that the master plan sets "a very broad policy statement," but that the commission will be able to make exceptions. For example, if an industrial company needed waterfront property with water access, "we would be required to consider the plan, but we would not be compelled to have it take precedence over other legal issues."

Theorem Clinical Research, Inc leases 29,000SF and stays in King of Prussia

"Taylor Young of Beacon Commercial Real Estate, LLC is pleased to announce that he has represented Theorem Clinical Research, Inc, in their negotiations of a long-term lease for their new corporate headquarters at Valley Forge Park Place, 1016 W Ninth Street, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.They will initially occupy approx 29,000 square feet on the first and third floors of the 78,000 square foot office building.

Theorem Clinical Research is one of the industry’s leading full-service, contract research organizations (CRO). Before launching in 2011, Theorem Clinical Research operated for nearly two decades as Omnicare Clinical Research under the Omnicare Inc. parent company. A global organization with 1,000+ employees located throughout 27 countries, Theorem Clinical Research provides core CRO services for Phases I-IV, but with niche business units in the areas of technical services, medical devices and pharmaceutics with speed, flexibility and attention to detail to drive a high-quality performance.

“We were really able to help leverage our client and capitalize off a recovering office market that is still offering many concessions for sought after companies like Theorem”, commented Young. “Presently, their existing office is very compartmentalized. Their new office will promote an open office environment that will foster collaboration and at the same time provide room for much anticipated growth.

Theorem will move into their new offices on August 1, 2012. They will be moving from their current location at 630 Allendale Road, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

The Landlord is Keystone Property Group.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Banks, pension funds, taxpayers kick in for Chestnut St. tower

"Signs of life in Center City construction:

Chicago investor John A. Buck and leaders of the union-backed Indure Fund stood under a tent and ceremonially shoveled dirt Thursday to start work on their long-planned 319-apartment tower (plus shops and a parking garage) soon to rise at 2116 Chestnut St.

Buck and Indure, a fund backed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors' Association's joint labor-management pension fund, each pledged to invest $20 million in the $100 million tower.

Banks led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. are lending Buck and Indure the other $60 million, and Pennsylvania taxpayers will give the investors a $10 million grant when the job is done, in a move approved by Gov. Corbett and his predecessor, Ed Rendell. They needed taxpayer sweeteners, the investors said, because Philadelphia's relatively low rents, combined with its East Coast building costs, don't guarantee an attractive profit margin.

Buck, a Wharton School graduate who founded John A. Buck Co. in 1981, said the tower would be his first development in Philadelphia, and he thanked political leaders for the people's millions: "I love Philadelphia. It's good to be back here. Philadelphia has more of a residential and warm feeling to it than our great city" of Chicago.

"We've been looking for a Philadelphia project with John Buck Co. for years; there was never anything that made sense before," said Jeffrey J. Kanne, president of Indure's advisory group. Up to 800 workers will be active on the job site between now and its scheduled 2013 completion, he said.

Kanne told Mayor Nutter and City Councilmen Bobby Henon and Kenyatta Johnson that Indure was also looking for government help to revitalize dowdy Girard Square, between 11th and 12th and Market and Chestnut Streets. Indure is working with Peter Soens to redevelop the block under a 75-year, $90 million lease with the city-run Girard Trust, which has cited lower investment profits in cutting services to low-income students at Girard College.

Soens and Indure have big plans for the Girard block: They want to lure a Target-style discount store or Giant-style grocery store, a hotel, and an apartment developer. But "that depends on getting money" from the city or another government entity, Kanne said.

Separately, tenants are being sought for yet another Center City apartments-and-retail project, on Brandywine Realty Trust's grass-covered block at 1919 Market St., next to Independence Blue Cross headquarters."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Investors Pay $6.8M for Reading Health Care Bldg

"Close Grings Hill Associates LP acquired the health care building at 1020 Grings Hill Rd. in Reading, PA from MBC Development LP for $6.8 million, or about $289 per square foot.

The 23,543-square-foot building is located in the Berks County submarket. It was 100 percent leased at the time of sale."

Pittston Distribution Ctr #1 Changes Hands for $4.4M

"Prologis LP sold the Pittston Distribution Center #1 to Endurance Real Estate Group LLC for $4.36 million, or about $15 per square foot.

Located at 301-305 Oak Street in Pittston, PA, the 289,242-square-foot industrial facility sits on more than 17 acres. The property was constructed in 1991 with renovation completed in 1996.

The property was put under contract vacant; however, during due diligence, a new tenant signed a deal to occupy the entire facility. R.C. Moore, Inc. has taken occupancy of the entire facility in the middle of February."

Federal Capital Partners, Cross Properties Close on $28.5M Philadelphia Acquisition

Federal Capital Partners and Cross Properties purchased the office tower located at 1616-1626 Walnut St. in downtown Philadelphia for $28.5 million, or about $121 per square foot, from Isard-Greenberg Company.

The 25-story office building totals 263,265 square feet and sits on about 0.37 acres. The buyers are possibly planning to convert the property into a multifamily development.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Latest Philadelphia Commercial Real Estate Deals

by Natalie Kostelni
"A two-story, 26,250-square-foot office building at 5000 Hilltop Drive in Brookhaven, Pa., traded for $1.75 million. The building can be expanded by 21,000 square feet in a three-story office building or a one-story flex building.

Water View Court Apartments, a 120-unit complex at 361 Harbor Drive in Claymont, Del., traded for $6.4 million, or $53,333 per unit.

Creekside Plaza, a 10,030 square-foot retail property located at 1207 McDade Blvd. in Collingdale, Pa. sold for $3.1 million, or more than $300 per square foot.

A 50,000-square-foot industrial building and site at 415 S. Penn St. in Clifton Heights, Pa., traded for $875,000. The building will become the new home to DCI Products.

Endurance Real Estate Group of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., bought 301-305 Oak St., a warehouse/distribution building totaling 289,277 square feet on 17 acres $4.4 million, or $15.07 a square foot. Endurance put the building under contract while vacant and managed to land RC Moore Inc., a logistics company that offers freight logistics, during due diligence. RC Moore took the entire building.

Oldcastle Building Envelope, a supplier of architectural glass and aluminum glazing systems, signed a new lease for the entire 32,700-square-foot office/flex building at 1507 Lancer Drive at Moorestown West Corporate Center in Moorestown, N.J."

BlueGolf moving to Devon Square

by Natalie Kostelni
"BlueGolf, a maker of systems that manage golf tournaments and golf clubs, leased office space at Devon Square, bringing the complex up to 90 percent occupied.

The company took 5,000 square feet in a five-year deal and is moving from 230 Sugartown Road. The company is in three different locations at its existing offices and this will give it room to consolidate, a more efficient lay-out and room to grow. The landlord is Keystone Property Group.
Tryko buys ‘nation’s first retirement community’ Boca Raton's 1200 Corporate Place sells for .25M Follow this company . About 15,000 square feet remain available at the Devon, Pa., site. Other recent lease deals include 7,816 square feet with AudioCARE Systems, and 5,000 square feet with Evocal Dairy Trade Inc."

Hersha Hospitality buys Rittenhouse Hotel

"The Rittenhouse Hotel has a new owner.
Hersha Hospitality Trust, a real estate investment trust that owns 67 hotels mostly in the Northeast Corridor, closed on a deal to buy the 111-room, five-diamond luxury hotel for $42 million Thursday, chief executive officer Jay H. Shah said.

"We're delighted with the opportunity to really transition ownership," Shah said in an interview just moments after the deal was sealed. "We're very excited about being the new era of ownership of this Philadelphia icon."

Hersha bought the hotel, which includes 152 residential condominiums, from Rittenhouse Development Corp., which developed, owned, and also managed it.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

BGC Partners CEO (Video)

Real Estate Fine Print

by Natalie Kostelni
"BPG Properties Ltd. expanded its Arizona presence and bought a Class A office complex in Scottsdale, marking its second acquisition in that market.

The Philadelphia company paid $34.25 million for Lincoln Towne Centre, which is substantially below replacement costs. The 223,605 square-foot-building is 33 percent vacant. BPG Properties bought the complex from Lincoln National Life Insurance Co.

Tenants include CNA National Warranty Corp. (NYSE:CAN) and EMC Corp. (NYSE:EMC). The site consists of two, five-story office towers with below grade parking for more than 800 cars and it was built in 1999 …

Zukin Realty Co. got the go-ahead from Chester County, Pa., to buy three contiguous buildings at 33-35-37-39 W. Market St. in West Chester. Zukin will pay the county $575,000 for the properties … An 11-unit mixed-use property consisting of nine apartments and two retail spaces at 1061-1063 Easton Road in Abington sold for $1 million. Marcus & Millichap arranged the transaction between two undisclosed entities …

Markeim-Chalmers completed a series of deals including: The sale of a 2,500-square-foot office building at 204 Kings Highway S. in Cherry Hill, N.J., for $295,000; Velocity Sports/Rothman Institute leased 14,000 square feet at 309 Fries Mill Road in Sewell, N.J., for seven years; and the renewal of two leases at 5090 Central Highway, Pennsauken, N.J., in a building owned by J&J Snack Foods. WIS International and Vital Network Services took a combined 10,000 square feet in the building … Ocean Healthcare Operating Partners of Lakewood, N.J., placed a $15 million bid on a 200-bed hospital on 22.3 acres in Pemberton, N.J., that is operated by the Burlington County government, according to the Courier-Post. The facility serves long-term care and psychiatric patients. The county still needs to decide whether it wants to approve the deal …

A developer is eying converting the First Baptist Church of Ardmore at the intersection of Athens Avenue and St. Paul’s Road, for residential use, according to a report in the Main Line Times. Wally Smerconish will present his plans to the community on Tuesday at the church … Buccini/Pollin Group is getting closer to constructing a new $36 million, 180-room Westin Hotel on the riverfront in Wilmington, Del. The developer is set to receive $5 million in public-loan guarantees to help build the hotel, according to a report in the Wilmington News Journal. The Riverfront Development Corp. has been working with Buccini Pollin for more than a year on the project and firming up the details on the acquisition of the publicly owned parcel."
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