Monday, November 30, 2015

Gloucester Premium Outlets, Simon Properties, Adds Two New Retailers

by Steve Lubetkin,
Gloucester Premium Outlets says two new retailers have opened at the South Jersey outlet shopping destination, which itself just opened in August.

Gap Factory and Old Navy Outlet opened this month in the Mill Court section of the property..

These new tenants join existing retailers including Armani Outlet, Calvin Klein, Carter’s, Cole Haan, Columbia Sportswear, Crocs, J.Crew, Levi’s Outlet Store, Nike Factory Store, Puma, Steve Madden, Under Armour and Vera Bradley.

“The opening of these two popular retailers comes at the perfect time: right before the start of the busy holiday season,” says Shannon Palzer, director of marketing and business development for Gloucester Premium Outlets. “We now have even more dynamic brands for our customers to discover and enjoy and we are confident that both brands will be well received.”

Gloucester Premium Outlets features 90 outlet stores. The property is owned by Simon Property Group.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

York Industrial, 515 Zarfoss Drive, Sold For $16.5M

by Steve Lubetkin,
Endurance Real Estate Group and Thackeray Partners have sold the 313,000 square-foot 515 Zarfoss Drive in York, PA, to Industrial Property Trust for $16.5 million. The property is located in the 27 million square foot Central Pennsylvania industrial market, which is widely considered one of the top performing in the United States.

“515 Zarfoss Drive presented the opportunity for the buyer to acquire a 100 percent leased, highly-functional asset with a tenant who has an unmatched local presence and commitment to the market." “York County has continued to be a shining star within the Central Pennsylvania market, outperforming other locations in terms of high quality of labor, rental rates and limited vacancy.”

Central Pennsylvania remains an attractive industrial market for investors due to its  superior regional connectivity within a one-day drive of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, and Pittsburgh. The York County market has emerged as one the most highly sought after locations within the Central Pennsylvania market due in part to its close proximity to Harrisburg, strategic location along I-83 and high quality labor.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Endurance Real Estate Group Refi's $28M on 2 Horsham Warehouses

by Steve Lubetkin,
Endurance Real Estate Group $28 million refinanced two fully-leased industrial shallow bay warehouse and office buildings totaling 246,790 square feet in the Philadelphia suburb of Horsham, PA.

It is a 10-year, fixed-rate loan through Silverpeak Real Estate Finance.  Loan proceeds will refinance existing debt.

The 100-percent-leased portfolio consists of 200 Precision Drive and 425 Privet Road in the Pennsylvania Turnpike Corridor in Horsham, 19 miles north of Philadelphia’s CBD.  The properties are adjacent to one another and are approximately three miles from Interstate 276 (Pennsylvania Turnpike) via exit 343, which provides access to Interstates 76, 476 and 95.

The 126,500-square-foot 200 Precision Drive contains 63,000 square feet of warehouse space, 49,400 square feet of office space and a 14,200-square-foot laboratory.  The building is housed on 11.13 acres and is leased to Finisar Corporation, C&D Technologies and DrugScan.  Fully-leased to Teva Pharmaceuticals, 425 Privet Road underwent an expansion in 2008 to expand the asset to its current-day 120,290 square feet.  Situated on 13.1 acres, the property contains 615 parking spaces.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Rents Rising, Availability Tightening in Philadelphia Office Market

by Steve Lubetkin,
Asking rents for Center City Philadelphia office space have risen nearly four percent year over year, while availabilities have declined by 2.2 percent. Overall leasing grew to 3.3 million square feet in the quarter, up 13 percent from the prior period, and class A trailing volume of 2.2 million square feet was up 40.2 percent for the quarter and a solid eight percent for the year so far.

“Everybody here is pretty excited about the direction the city is going in. There have just been a number of firms that have moved to the city, and the construction that’s happening. The downtown atmosphere is completely changed.”

Availability of suburban class A space dropped to 16.7 percent from 17.9 percent in the quarter. In Center City, the class A availability dropped to 11.8 percent. Both Center City and suburban areas recorded their lowest class A availability since the end of 2008, and that flight to quality office space is leading to the rising rates.

“The most significant thing you are seeing is the breakdown in pricing among buildings, where trophy class buildings have seen some significant price increases, relative to the lower end of the class A market and the class B market, which has largely been flat for the last decade,” says Garberson.

The redevelopment of the Gallery retail mall, and the nearby Market East development nearby, are moving rents in the East Market area higher. Once the Marketplace Design Center announced its move to the new Market East project in The Annex Building, other properties in the area being redeveloped have increased their rents, he says.

“There’s a lot of confidence in that part of the city among landlords right now,” he says.

The redeveloped Navy Yard in South Philadelphia got a boost last week with funding announced to study extending the Broad Street subway line to the complex. Garberson thinks the project will need more mass transit if it is to continue to grow. Earlier this year, Axalta announced a 175,000 square-foot R&D center being built with Liberty Property Trust.

“If they continue with their plans, and they’re going to include residential at the Navy Yard, they’re going to need it. It’s a very mass transit-based downtown area, so they need it if they want to compete with Center City or West Philly.”

Traffic has started to become an issue at the Navy Yard, whose weekday population has swelled to about 10,000 and could grow by another 5,000.

In University City, Garberson says, “I think you see a majority of the construction happening there,” noting that the former University City High School has been demolished and the five acre site is being redeveloped by Drexel University City Development, a joint venture between Drexel University and Wexford Science & Technology.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Richard LeFrak: Golden age of Apartment Investing (Video)

Power Home Remodeling Leases 105,000 SF at The Wharf

Power Home Remodeling Group signed a five-year lease for 104,661 square feet at The Wharf at Rivertown - Building 1 located at 2501 Seaport Dr. in Chester, PA.

The six-story, 398,000-square-foot, 4-Star office building was constructed in 1916 on 1.5 acres in the Delaware County submarket of Philadelphia. The waterfront property was renovated in 2004 and features a fitness center and food court.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wells Fargo Monthly Economic Outlook – November 2015 (Video)

HGI Pays $89.5M for The Grand Cherry Hill Apts

Eurohypo AG New York and AREA Property Partners sold the 565-unit The Grand Cherry Hill Apartment Homes at 1900-1920 Frontage Rd. in Cherry Hill, NJ to Harbor Group International (HGI) for $89.5 million, or about $158,000 per unit.

The 18-story, 600,000-square-foot high-rise consists of studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units across two towers, each with its own fitness center. The multifamily property was built in 1969, renovated in 2009 and was 94 percent occupied at the time of sale.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Allen Distribution Fully Leases Building

by Steve Lubetkin,
Allen Distribution, a third-party logistics service provider based in Central Pennsylvania, signed a 321,333 square-foot lease for an entire building at Woodmont Industrial Partners' Capital Logistics Center.

"Allen Distribution was particularly attracted to the Capital Logistics Center given its central location in the Harrisburg market and Ownership's ability to accommodate their overall sizing need."

The building at 100 Capital Lane. is part of the recently-renovated Capital Logistics Center, a six-building, 1.55-million-square-foot industrial complex situated on more than 100 acres in Middletown, PA. A joint venture of Woodmont Industrial Partners and AEW Capital Management, the property features an adhered EPDM roof and 7-inch un-reinforced concrete floor with 54 doors with 33 knock-out panels.

“The Capital Logistics Center is truly one of the most modern, highly sought-after industrial parks in the region,” says Eric Witmondt, chief executive officer of Woodmont. “Strategically located in Central Pennsylvania, the complex is ideal for companies that operate distribution lines in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.”

In addition to the upgrades at 100 Capital Lane, Woodmont recently completed the redevelopment of 200 Capital Lane, a 400,060-square-foot building that is currently available for lease. The building features include 54 dock doors, two drive-in doors, T5 lighting with motion sensors, a six-inch reinforced concrete floor and a standing seam metal roof. The site also includes 200 car parking spaces and 81 trailer drops, both with potential to expand.

“Woodmont Industrial’s redevelopment of the Capital Logistics Center has been a key factor in attracting long-term tenants to the property. Companies of all sizes can capitalize on the opportunity to lease space at 200 Capital Lane, which is the largest building in the Capital Logistics Center.”

Situated in Central Pennsylvania at the heart of the I-81 Distribution Corridor, the Capital Logistics Center fronts the Pennsylvania Turnpike and is less than a mile away from Harrisburg International Airport. The property is also near local FedEx and UPS facilities as well as Routes I-283, I-83 and 322.

PREIT Announces New Tenants in Moorestown Mall

by Steve Lubetkin,
PREIT has added 40,000 square feet of new leases for the Moorestown Mallin this Burlington County, NJ, suburb of Philadelphia, as part of a redevelopment that PREIT CEO Joseph Coradino calls a successful effort to "unlock the mall's value while giving shoppers an enhanced shopping experience."

An extensive remerchandising of the property has been underway since 2012. The company also marked the completion of the planned overhaul of the Dining Court, redesigned to offer an upgraded environment and amenities.

"I'm pleased to mark these accomplishments and to see the continued evolution of Moorestown Mall," says PREIT CEO Joseph F. Coradino.  "This project is yet another example of PREIT's success in improving the quality of our portfolio and strengthening asset value through targeted property-level remerchandising strategies."

The flurry of leasing activity counteracts some of the fallout from the recently announced early exit of a high profile dining establishment at the retail venue.

Last month, Osteria, an upscale dining establishment from popular Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri, announced it had negotiated an early end to its lease and would close November 21 after a two-year run in the mall. It will be replaced by Catelli Duo, which already has a location at the nearby Voorhees Town Center at Echelon, Voorhees, NJ.

PREIT named the following new tenants at Moorestown: Yard House (9,972 square feet) , a restaurant and beer pub; Starbucks Coffee (283 square feet); Liberty Supply Co. (1,447 square feet), a new retail concept featuring US-made apparel, footwear, bags and accessories for men and women; Toy Genius (3,000 square feet), selling toys, games, puzzles and ride-ons, for shoppers “age 0 – 99”; Eye Deals (1,298 square feet), a one-hour vision center; Yankee Candle (1,195 square feet), selling premium scented candles and home fragrance products; Verizon Wireless (1,869 square feet). Earlier, PREIT signed Swedish clothing store H&M to an 18,355 square foot lease.

Other food options added to the mall this fall include Moon Dog Café, Brooklyn Pizza, Suki Hana Japan and Suki Hana Sushi.

Monday, November 16, 2015

RAIT Financial Trust moving back to Center City Philadelphia

Natalie Kostelni, Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal
RAIT Financial Trust has signed a lease to move out of Cira Centre and will relocate back to the Central Business District.

The real estate investment trust signed on to 21,000 square feet at Two Logan Square in Center City Philadelphia. It will move by spring 2016, said Andres Viroslav, a spokesman for the company.
“We wanted to be back downtown,” Viroslav said about the decision to move out of Cira Centre. It also wanted to have the ability to be on a single floor. Viroslav declined to answer additional questions about the lease.

The building that RAIT is relocating to 100 N. 18th St., owned by Brandywine Realty Trust, which developed and also owns Cira Centre. The vacancy brought on by RAIT's pending move from Cira was short-lived.

“Always good to keep a great customer within the Brandywine family,” said Jerry Sweeney, CEO of Brandywine (NYSE: BDN) about RAIT's move. “We have already released their entire space plus some more for a term exceeding 10 years.”

Full story:

Should my company use a tenant rep agent when leasing office space? (Video)

Friday, November 13, 2015

New Planet Fitness Coming to Nazareth

Planet Fitness has signed a 25,776-square-foot lease at 859-865 Nazareth Pike in Nazareth, PA. The 10-year deal will commence in the first quarter of 2016.

The single-story retail strip totals 182,515 square feet and was built in 1990 in the Lehigh / Northampton submarket of Philadelphia.

The landlord is Lavipour & Company.

Circle Industrial Buys Amazon Bldg for $91M

Circle Industrial acquired the Amazon distribution building at 560 Merrimac Ave. in Middletown, DE from Duke Realty LP for $91 million, or about $90 per square foot. 

Duke developed the 1.02 million-square-foot building in 2013 as a build-to-suit for Amazon, which occupies the entire property on a triple-net lease. The property features 120 loading docks and two drive-ins, and is located on 73.9 acres in teh NEw Castle County Industrial submarket of Philadelphia.

CRE Deal Tracker

by Steve Lubetkin,
In this deal-tracker roundup, a law firm and two nonprofits expanded their office space, and an upscale Italian restaurant cooked up a plan to move into a new King of Prussia location.


PHILADELPHIA—Three lease agreements for approximately 9,432 square feet went off in Center City office space with a combined aggregate rental of $1.23 million. O’Brien Rulis Bochicchio leased of about 5,182 square feet on the 15th floor of 1515 Market Street for the expansion of its offices in the 20-story, 500,000 square foot building.  The building owner is BRI1866 1515 Market. At 1211 Chestnut Street, the Philadelphia Center on Alcoholism leased 2,250 square feet that relocates the PCA from 1501 Cherry Street. The building owner is 1211 Chestnut Realty Corporation.  The Peggy Browning Fund, which is moving to 2,000 square feet on the 12th floor of the Land Title Building, 100 South Broad Street, from approximately 1,000 square feet the Fund currently occupies at 1528 Walnut Street. The building owner is LTD Limited Partnership.

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA—Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse is leasing a new 9,000 square foot restaurant at The King of Prussia Town Center, a new 400,000 square foot retail and dining destination in King of Prussia, PA. With locations in Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, and Atlanta, Davio’s will join other signature restaurants at the center, including Fogo De Chao, Paladar Latin Kitchen, Old Town Pour House and Honeygrow. All of these restaurants are slated to open in the third quarter of 2016.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

KoP Town Center gets healthy fast-casual chain

Kenneth Hilario, Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal

Another restaurant tenant has been added to the King of Prussia Town Center's repertoire of culinary offerings.
Healthy fast-casual chain b.good has signed a lease for 2,400 square feet of space in the upcoming 400,000-square-foot Town Center by Chevy Chase, Md.-based developer JBGR Retail. The restaurant will have 50 seats.

b.good has locations along the East Coast, including Maine and South Jersey. The King of Prussia location is its 28th location and only its second location in the Philadelphia suburbs. (A location in Wynnewood, Pa., opened earlier this year.)
The King of Prussia Town Center outpost of b.good is under construction and will open in summer 2016.

b.good will join other dining tenants, including Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse's second Philadelphia outpost, Philadelphia-based honeygrow, Fogo de Chao, Old Town Pour House and Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar.

Phila. coalition puts out national call for innovative health care ideas
JBGR told the Philadelphia Business Journal earlier that it's strategically choosing the type of restaurants coming to the town center. Senior Vice President of Development Tom Sebastian said they will help create "the downtown for Upper Merion," similar to what Center City has become for Philadelphia.

JBGR Retail broke ground on the King of Prussia Town Center in May and is being built in one phase. The entire project is about 50 percent built, Sebastian said.
The first tenant will open in early summer; the whole project will be up and rolling by the end of the summer, Sebastian said earlier. The town center is expected to have 35 to 40 tenants.
"We're really excited about the project," he said. "It's going to be well received by the community. We think it will be unique in the Philadelphia suburbs."
Full story:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Will U.S. Jobs Report Impact Real Estate? (Video)

Main Line Health Renews Lease for 72,000 SF in Broomall

Main Line Health Center, a primary care provider, renewed its lease for 71,932 square feet in the Lawrence Park Shopping Center at 1991 Sproul Rd. in Broomall, PA.

The 353,000-square-foot community shopping center was built in 1972 on 106.8 acres in the Delaware County submarket. Located less than 15 miles from the Philadelphia International Airport, the center is anchored by Acme Market, Barnes & Noble, CVS, and Dollar Tree.

Brandywine Opens Green Space Above Cira Centre South

by Steve Lubetkin,
Brandywine Realty Trust has opened Cira Green at Cira Centre South, the City's first elevated park, in the University City district of Philadelphia, PA.  Cira Green, part of Brandywine's 2.7 million square foot mixed-use Cira Centre South neighborhood, is a 1.25 acre urban park, 95 feet above street level overlooking the Center City and University City skylines as well as the Schuylkill River.

Cira Green “will become one of the City's most unique and celebrated public spaces," says Gerard H. Sweeney, president and chief executive officer.  "Our design mission in developing Cira Centre South has been to establish a new neighborhood lifestyle in one of the region's fastest growing districts.  Cira Green will perfectly complement the vibrant residential, retail and office environment that Cira Centre South presents to the marketplace."

Cira Green is designed for enhanced storm water performance, while functioning as an accessible and exciting gathering place.  This project is the City's first to utilize innovative "blue roof" and "green roof" technologies and provide the same hydrological performance as a fully planted roof.  In addition, large portions of the roof deck are tilted and elevated to provide better views of the cityscape.

Cira Green is another green public space created by Brandywine as part of its Cira Southdevelopment. In October 2014, Brandywine completed the Schuylkill Esplanade, a pocket park located along Schuylkill Avenue between Market and Chestnut Streets that serves the dual purpose of managing storm water runoff and providing pedestrians, office workers, and residents of Cira Centre South with a lush green oasis for daily enjoyment.

Adjacent to Cira Green is FMC Tower at Cira Centre South – Philadelphia's first vertical neighborhood –  a progressively designed urban mixed-use high-rise building comprised of highly efficient office space, luxurious residential units, flexible stay corporate suites, and world class amenities.

Conveniently accessible to mass transit via 30th Street Station, this "Vertical Neighborhood" is designed to provide complete convenience in living, working, and relaxing. In addition to its proximity to Cira Green, residents and tenants of FMC Tower at Cira Centre South will enjoy concierge services with unique amenities including a 72 foot pool, world class fitness center, multi-media theater, business conference center, private dining rooms, golf simulator, lounge rooms for private entertaining/employee collaboration, and an outdoor terrace 415 feet above street level with sweeping 360 degree views of the Philadelphia skyline.  At street level, FMC Tower at Cira Centre South will have a retail pavilion that will also include an upscale bar and restaurant.

The residential portion of FMC Tower at Cira Centre South, designed for short and long-term stays, will be operated by the luxury brand AKA. The Residences at Cira Centre South will feature 268 brand-new, ultra-luxury hotel suites and apartment residences located on the tower's upper 18 floors. The residences feature sophisticated, contemporary interiors and a full floor of wellness and lifestyle-enhancing amenities conceived by internationally celebrated architect and designer, Piero Lissoni.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Finding value in REITs despite rising rates (Video)

Multi Family Transaction Pace Accelerates in Philadelphia

by Steve Lubetkin,
Gebroe-Hammer Associates has had a good year so far in Philadelphia, with sales totaling $128 million and 1,250 units, and the market continues to be white-hot, the firm's market specialists say.

Philadelphia’s transaction pace is accelerating in University City and Center City. The urban market specialist recently was involved in arranging more than $60 million in sales encompassing over 350 units throughout the city’s central and western neighborhoods.

Post Brothers, is one of Philadelphia’s most active multi-family property owners and developers seeking to expand their citywide portfolio. These trades included Garden Court Plaza, a 146-unit, 13-story 1920s-era apartment building located at the corner of 47th and Pine Street, and Roosevelt Apartments, a two-building complex just off Rittenhouse Square at 2216-2222 Walnut St., in Center City. As previously reported by, Post Brothers says it will invest $250 million in University City. Both properties are undergoing extensive renovations and repositioning to cater to citywide demand for upscale apartment-homes with superior amenities.

“Districts like University City and Center City are commanding tremendous investment and development interest thanks to gentrification and revitalization initiatives that have gained remarkable momentum during the past several years. Post-graduates are contributing toward defining the ‘vibe’ or character of these districts where the arts, eclectic dining and historic architecture are attracting renters en masse.”

“As forecasted, investor appetite has been insatiable and the tenant base of young professionals continues to absorb new product metrowide at a historic pace. Surrounding urban and suburban submarkets are commanding unwavering attention as well."

Friday, November 6, 2015

Commercial Development in Philadelphia Dramatically Illustrated

by Steve Lubetkin,
A national apartment search website with nearly 2,000 listings in the Philadelphia market is offering a remarkable series of before-after images of commercial development in the City of Brotherly Love, thanks to Google Street View and a timelapse slider tool.

RENTCafé writer Amalia Otet tells exclusively that the website wanted to get a sense of how Philadelphia is doing in terms of real estate development and which areas are drawing the largest investments.

“We’ve scoured the city for the biggest and boldest new constructions that were finalized sometime in the last 8 years,” she says. “Aside from their architectural impact, these buildings are also generally acting as catalysts for more development in their corner of the city. More than simply revealing how far we’ve come, these projects can also help give a better picture of what the future will look like for these neighborhoods.”

Otet’s blog post compares street-level views of 10 locations in Center City Philadelphia taken in 2007 with more recent views from 2014.

“Our research data reveals that the number of renters is on the upswing in Philadelphia, with all signs pointing to further growth,” says Otet. “The city has a lot of potential as rising employment and high apartment demand will keep the market competitive while prices are still relatively affordable. It’s one of the cheapest cities to rent in the Mid-Atlantic, with NYC, Jersey City, and Washington D.C. all posting much higher average asking rents.”
Full story:

Virginia firm buys Cherry Hill apartment complex, two more for $300M

Affiliates of real estate investment and management firm Harbor Group International have acquired three Mid-Atlantic region apartment complexes, including a 546-unit development in Cherry Hill.

More than $300 million total was paid for for the Grand, a two-building high-rise complex on Frontage Road, and two other properties, Norfolk, Va.-based Harbor Group said in a release Thursday.

Also purchased were the 704-unit Crest at Princeton Meadows in Plainsboro, N.J., outside Princeton, and the 748-unit Jefferson at Orchard Pond in Gaithersburg, Md.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Slow GDP growth is good for property: Starwood CEO (Video)

Carlyle Funding Buys Mullica Hill Plaza for $25.4M

Hart Realty Advisers, Inc. sold the Mullica Hill Plaza shopping center at 141 Bridgeton Pike in Mullica Hill, NJ to Carlyle Funding, Inc. for $25.4 million, or about $292 per square foot.

The 86,842-square-foot neighborhood center is 96 percent occupied by anchor Rite Aid and national and local retailers including Pet Valu, Subway, and Supercuts.

Dermody and PCCP Break Ground in Lehigh Valley

by Steve Lubetkin,
Dermody Properties and PCCP, an integrated real estate finance and investment management firm, have broken ground on LogistiCenterat 33, a 475,800-square-foot industrial facility at 4200 E. Braden Blvd. in Forks Township, PA.

The spec-built facility has not yet been leased, but there is still very strong demand for distribution capacity in the submarket, and his firm is still looking for more locations, Dermody partner Gene Preston tells exclusively.

“While there has been an increase in speculative development recently, many projects are being leased before completion, and the vacancy rate for class A industrial buildings in the Lehigh Valley is less than 4 percent,” Preston says. “Currently, we are actively looking for more development opportunities in the Lehigh Valley and central Pennsylvania.”

LogistiCenter at 33 is centrally located in the heart of the Lehigh Valley near such corporate neighbors as Weyerhaeuser, Crayola, Victaulic and Mondelez, and is within minutes of Interstate 78 and Route 33 via the new Main Street interchange just west of the site.

Dermody Properties and PCCP broke ground at the site on October 29, and expect construction to be complete in mid-2016.

Upon completion, LogistiCenter at 33 will feature 36 feet of clear height, 226 car parking spaces and 85 trailer parking spaces. R.S. Mowery & Sons is the general contractor for the project, and the firm of Randall Paulson is the project architect.

“PCCP sees this as a compelling opportunity to develop a class A industrial facility with Dermody Properties, a best-in-class developer,” says John Randall, managing director with PCCP. “Additionally, the local industrial market incorporates all of the key fundamentals that promise to attract large user interest. Our goal is to pre-lease the property prior to completion of construction.”

“We are pleased to continue our growth in this important logistics market and to expand our relationship with PCCP,” says Douglas A. Kiersey Jr., president, Dermody Properties. “We believe LogistiCenter at 33 will attract a high-quality logistics customer similar to those in our existing facilities throughout Pennsylvania.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

$100M Horsham office portfolio in play?

by Natalie Kostelni, Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal

Rizk Ventures is reportedly buying a portfolio of office properties in Horsham, Pa., from Liberty Property Trust in a transaction valued at an estimated $100 million.
The deal, which involves more than 40 properties Liberty (NYSE: LPT) owns in the Montgomery County office submarket, will mark the company’s exit from it, according to multiple sources.

At the same time, it will be Rizk’s first foray into the Philadelphia region’s office market.
Rizk is a New York investment firm that was formed by Thomas A. Rizk, who operated a company called Cali Realty Corp. that was later merged with another company to form Mack-Cali Realty Corp.
A spokewoman from Liberty declined to comment on market rumors. An official from Rizk couldn’t be reached for comment.

Horsham and Fort Washington, which make up the submarket, have been in transition this year.
Earlier, Brookwood Financial Partners closed on a $183 million, 29-building office portfolio that gave it six properties in Fort Washington including 500 and 501 Office Center Drive and 220 Commerce Drive. That deal meant the exit of Brandywine Realty Trust (NYSE: BDN) from that suburban office market.

If Liberty’s deal with Rizk is finalized, it means that Liberty will also be out of it. Liberty, like Brandywine, has been paring down its suburban office holdings to focus on what it deems as core holdings.

Full story:

O'Brien Rulis Bochicchio expands offices at 1515 Market St.


Law firm O'Brien Rulis Bochicchio has expanded its offices to about 5,200 square feet at 1515 Market St. The firm had occupied 3,700 square feet in the 20-story building.

Philadelphia Center on Alcoholism leased 2,250-square-feet at 1211 Chestnut St. and the Peggy Browning Fund leased a 2,000-square-foot space in the Land Title Building at 100 S. Broad St.

Amazon opens physical store

by Phuong Le, Associated Press
Online retail giant Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore on Tuesday, two decades after it began selling books over the Internet and helped drive a number of shops out of business.
The Seattle store, Amazon Books, will be a physical extension of the company website, combining the benefits of online pricing with traditional book shopping, the company said in a statement.

It will offer as many as 6,000 top-rated titles, culled from customer ratings, sales, preorders, and other factors.

The Seattle-based company did not explain its strategy in opening the store or say whether it would open more retail locations.

Amazon Books vice president Jennifer Cast told the Seattle Times: "We hope this is not our only one. But we'll see."
The first shoppers found displays of books with cards containing ratings and reviews. Amazon said it wanted shoppers to walk out with books or later purchase their picks online.

Kenneth Yoder, 58, a Seattle concierge, was among the first in line when the wood-and-glass doors opened at the upscale outdoor shopping center in north Seattle that's also the site of Apple and Microsoft stores.

"I'm excited to physically look and see what the selection is like," said Yoder, who buys books online and in stores.

Others scratched their heads over the irony of the physical location because Amazon is seen by some as one reason so many independent and other booksellers have gone out of business in recent years.

"They're the dominant retailer in the country, and they kind of got there by playing real hardball," said John Mutter, editor-in-chief of the book trade newsletter Shelf Awareness. "They are considered the Darth Vader of the business because they play really brutally."

Yet the store makes sense because it was a missing part of the company's book business, Mutter said.

Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst with Forrester Research, said the store appears to be an experiment to see what the company can learn.

"If they sell books, awesome. Even if they don't sell books, there's a lot to learn about how people discover products, how they shop for products," Mulpuru said. "Does a physical store increase your likelihood to spend with Amazon in general? Does it make you more loyal to Amazon?"

$26.8M mortgage loan originated for Penrose Plaza shopping center


An investment fund operated by New York's Square Mile Capital Management has originated a $26.8 million mortgage loan for the Penrose Plaza shopping center in Southwest Philadelphia, the company said in a release on Tuesday.

Square Mile Capital Partners is funding the center's recent acquisition and planned capital expenditures by a joint venture of Onyx Properties, Abrams Realty & Development, and Siguler Guff.

The 261,000-square-foot property at 2900-3000 Island Ave. is anchored by a ShopRite supermarket.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Coworking Company Benjamin’s Desk Takes 10,000sf at The Curtis

by Steve Lubetkin,
Coworking firm Benjamin’s Desk has taken 10,000 square feet of space at The Curtis, Keystone Property Group’s newly repositioned 900,000-square-foot office, apartment and retail property at 601 Walnut Street in Philadelphia.

With two Philadelphia locations and several others currently under consideration, Benjamin’s Desk has become a popular operator of the coworking office concept. With tenants including entrepreneurs, startups and others looking for non-traditional office facilities, Benjamin’s Desk offers a workspace tailored to its tenants’ unique needs and committed to driving their productivity.

“The coworking environment in many ways reflects our overall revitalization strategy for the building,” says Rich Gottlieb, senior vice president of Keystone. “We aim to foster a vibrant, collaborative setting for visitors and workers alike, and the addition of Benjamin’s Desk contributes to the sense of community we are looking to create.”

"Our partners at the Keystone Property Group have shared with us their vision for a hub in Washington Square where entrepreneurs can live, work, and be entertained,” says Anthony Maher, co-founder and CEO of Benjamin’s Desk. “Likewise, many existing and potential Benjamin’s Desk members have told us that they could benefit from having access to space, customers, and talent near both Washington Square and Old City."

After acquiring the property with Mack-Cali in 2014, Keystone is leading a reinvestment program at The Curtis, including a revitalized ground-floor streetscape and building atrium. The program also includes the development of 59 luxury apartments in a portion of the building's existing office space and the addition of a ground-floor restaurant and retail component to the property, with the aim of creating a renewed experience for office tenants and prospective residents at the historic mixed-use Center City property.

“With the improvements to these iconic properties, we’re playing a role in the creation of the sort of vibrant urban corridor in great demand among today’s energetic workforce,” says Gottlieb. “With the revitalization of Center City, the Market East neighborhood has truly become a live-work-dine environment, and we see its attractiveness continuing to grow.”

Keystone is also reimagining 100 Independence Mall West, which is located several blocks north of the Curtis. Keystone led a joint-venture group that acquired the property – the historic Dow Chemical building – and has creating a dynamic indoor-outdoor experience for pedestrians, replete with the popular Independence Beer Garden and a La Colombe coffee café.

Target Secures Two Locations in Philadelphia

by Steve Lubetkin,
Target Stores has secured two locations in Center City Philadelphia for new, smaller-than-usual retail stores of under 25,000 square feet.

The two locations are 1900 Chestnut (a 23,000 square-foot site being developed by Pearl Properties) and 1112Chestnut (a 22,000 square-foot site being developed by The Brickstone Companies).

The merchandise assortment and services in these locations, sometimes called TargetExpress, will offer quick-trip items focused on immediate use vs. stocking up, as offered in the larger format Target stores. Assortments will include smaller pack sizes and items geared toward instant consumption, like grab-and-go sandwiches and fresh food, but will also include merchandise not found at other quick-trip stores, including an assortment of items in Home and Electronics.

Both locations are currently under construction with planned openings in 2016.