Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Philly launches L&I website, Zoo to build $24M Parking Garage

by Joseph N. DiStefano

After what boss J. Anthony Hayden called a "tense" six-hour auction - on Auction.com, during thunderstorms that threatened to reset the bids - MIM Hayden Real Estate Funds of Conshohocken has agreed to pay $11 million for Walnut Hill, a 155,000-square-foot office building at 150 Warner Rd. in King of Prussia.
That's just half what the building was worth when it last sold, six years ago, according to Hayden.
A bargain - or a sign of collapse? Liberty Property Trust, Brandywine Real Estate Trust, and other corporate landlords have been selling suburban offices as rents fall and vacancies rise.
"We understand why they are pulling out. But there are still strong suburban areas, like our Five Tower Bridge" in West Conshohocken, Hayden told me.
And 150 Warner? "It's sandwiched between 1000 Continental Drive and Liberty's Vanguard Building. Those buildings will not move below $30 a square foot" yearly rental. "But we can lease ours for the low $20s," and still improve the property, given the lower acquisition cost, according to Anthony J. Hayden, the chairman's son and partner.
The seller was CWCapital, special servicer for the lenders who took over Walnut Hill after occupancy fell to 50 percent and the previous owners let it go. The Haydens say they have three tenants already competing for the empty space at their new rate.
The neighborhood also includes the new Wegmans supermarket, plus the former Valley Forge golf course, where developer Dennis Maloomian hopes to build a hotel and medical center.
Is King of Prussia ready to build again? "It's just now beginning to wake up," Maloomian told me. Though, before the crash, "we were planning to build the lion's share of the project in one phase; now we are breaking it up into phases."
No sale
In South Jersey, Wal-Mart is more desirable than Gucci:
Canada-based RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust said Monday it plans to pay $52 million to buy out the owners and creditors of the four-year-old Deptford Landing retail development, which features a Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and PetSmart. Developer AIG Shopping Center Properties L.L.C. put the property in bankruptcy two years ago, after former tenant Circuit City failed.
By contrast, in an auction last week C-III Asset Management was unable to find buyers for the ritzy-boutique-laden Pier Shops at Caesars development willing to meet the $25 million bankers' buyback price lenders paid Taubman Co. two years ago to buy the complex back. Pier Shops had been appraised at over $200 million in 2007.
Look it up
The Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections and the city Information Technology Office went live Monday with a rebuilt website at www.phila.gov/LI.
The site lists, maps, and fetches reports on licensed building contractors, their constructions permits and violations, licensed rentals and places cited for renting without a license, vacancies, zoning and use permits, appeals, zoning applications, and even applications to have gun permits reinstated.
This is already public information, but it's cool to have it all in one place, and generally user-friendly.
Taxes at work
The Philadelphia Zoo has hired Conshohocken-based Shoemaker Construction Co. in partnership with Angelo R. Perryman's West Philadelphia-based Perryman Construction Services to build a 4-story, $24 million parking garage and bus station, the Centennial District Intermodal Transportation Center, which zoo officials hope will help boost attendance above last year's 1.2 million visitors.
The 683-space garage will nearly double parking at the historic zoo above the Schuylkill, and improve traffic flow at the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76) ramps nearby, according to the zoo, which sits smack on SEPTA city bus and trolley routes but can be a tough drive for suburbanites.
Where's the money coming from? $7.18 million from the Federal Transit Agency and Federal Highway Administration; $8.25 million from Pennsylvania's state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program; $700,000 from the city; plus an $8.25 million loan from PNC Bank.

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