Friday, December 28, 2018

Market Cycle and Commercial Real Estate Financing (Video)

Multi Family Apartments Trade in Francisville Section of Philadelphia for $4.55M

by Steve Lubetkin,
With the 2018 multifamily investment year drawing to a close, the sale of 22 units at 909 Corinthian Ave. trade in the Francisville neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA. The $4.55 million trade works out to $206,818 per unit sale price.

According to Real Capital Analytics, a proprietary research database that tracks commercial real estate transactions, the property last traded hands in June 2015, when Spina & Co. acquired it from Lasdon Real Estate for $2.5 million, or $131,579 per unit.
The turn-of-the-century elevator building is strategically located at the corner of Corinthian Avenue and Cambridge Street, within the city’s trendy Art Museum District alongside Fairmount Park.

“This entire 28-block district is undergoing sweeping revitalization and is literally on the frontlines of gentrification. It has tremendous appeal among the young-professional renter base, which accounts for 75% of the overall population and is attracted to the neighborhood’s direct connection to Center City via Ridge Avenue.”

The extremely well maintained, distinctive five-story property features a mix of one- and two-bedroom layouts, on-site parking and laundry facilities. Neighborhood amenities include an array of outdoor leisure opportunities at Fairmount Park. Girard College and Temple University are nearby.
The mass-transit-dependent population is served by SEPTA’s Broad Street Subway stations at Fairmount and Girard as well as trolley route 15 at Girard Avenue and bus routes 2, 33 and 61.

“Similar to so many of the cities in the Northeast, Philadelphia’s outer neighborhoods offer proximity and affordability to a thriving city center, which in this case is Center City. In turn, multifamily is benefitting from a rippling effect in terms of sound property-value fundamentals, steady asking-rent appreciation and the establishment of popular of lifestyle service providers and centers that meet the requirements of today’s young and established millennials, academics and even empty nesters.”

Exeter Property Group Conshohocken Buys 7 STAG Industrial Properties for $114M

by John Jordan
STAG Industrial, Inc. continues its aggressive acquisition and disposition activity in 2018 with the sale of seven industrial properties totaling 1.8 million square feet.

The deal for the portfolio secures the Boston-based firm gross proceeds of approximately $113.5 million. The properties are 100% leased to seven tenants. The portfolio was acquired by Exeter Property Group of Conshohocken, PA.
“This portfolio sale of seven individually acquired industrial buildings demonstrates the value created by the STAG platform. As was evidenced in our previous portfolio sale, we achieved significant cap rate compression through the aggregation of individual industrial assets,” says Ben Butcher, CEO of STAG. “This transaction provides attractive capital for STAG as we head into 2019.”

STAG’s portfolio currently consists of 381 properties in 37 states with approximately 75 million rentable square feet.

In an investor presentation on the company’s website, STAG states that it realized a gain on the portfolio sale of approximately $30 million based on a disposition cap rate of 6.2%.
The average building size in the portfolio was 250,494 square feet and the weighted average lease term was 6.5 years.

In November, STAG announced that for the three months ended Sept. 30, 2018, it had acquired 15 buildings for $194.5 million with an occupancy rate of 100% upon acquisition. For the three quarters, the company reported it had acquired 36 buildings totaling nearly 7.1 million square feet for approximately $458.7 million.

Through three quarters of this year, the company sold 11 buildings totaling nearly 2 million square feet for $92.07 million.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Is Investing in Commercial Real Estate a Good Idea? (Video)

Hersha Hospitality’s Repositioning Efforts Aimed at Driving Better Value (Video)

US Office Market May Soften in 2019 as Economy Slows

U.S. office demand may soften in the coming year as job growth slows and buildings now under construction open to tenants, pushing vacancy rates higher and reducing rent increases, according to analysts and economists for commercial property brokerages.

Leasing and sales that have remained robust and steady since reaching peak post-recession levels in 2015 may slow over the next two years along with price appreciation and rent growth. Commercial real estate industry companies are closely watching the two business sectors that have driven office demand for the past three years, technology and shared-office companies, to see how they will fare as some analysts expect economic conditions to weaken next year.

“We’re at an inflection point where office markets will be slowing. Although leasing picked up at midyear as economic growth and employment picked up, we’re expecting that to reverse in the new year, with slower job growth, which will reduce leasing.”

Shared office space provider WeWork and its many rivals have rapidly leased space for several years during the height of the economic expansion, but commercial real estate analysts and executives have said they are concerned that demand will ease when the inevitable downturn finally arrives.

“Tech has been strained in market downturns, but it has still remained very profitable. But coworking is untested in a downturn and as a concept, it still has yet to make money and show that it’s profitable, so there are questions about how that will trend as we go into a downturn.”

WeWork has consistently said it was born in the wake of the Great Recession, and that the platform is even more desirable in a challenging economy as companies strive to become more efficient with their use of office space.

"We don't look forward to a dip, but we also know that day will come. We don't have undue anxiety about that," said Dave McLaughlin, who heads up a region that includes Toronto, during a real estate conference in that city in September.

The consensus among some analysts is the overall office market, however, should weather the next downturn because construction has mostly remained in line with demand. Two-thirds of all construction is in New York City, San Francisco and eight other large cities where tech companies and other large corporations are still demanding space.

San Francisco, for example, still has a single-digit vacancy rate and increasing rents despite having 17 million square feet of new office construction under way. Major tech firms are pre-leasing entire buildings in the city before they break ground, and tech centers like Austin and Seattle also have low vacancy rates despite high construction levels.

Investors have expressed concern about the technology sector because of volatility in the stock market and slowing startup activity, but some analysts say those concerns are overblown.

“Tech markets will avoid falling off a cliff in 2019,” said CoStar Analytics consultant Robin Trantham during CoStar’s annual predictions and trends webcast. “We’re predicting tech is not in as much trouble as some might think.”

Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook continue to invest in equipment and software development, hire new employees and lease space at very high rates.

Coworking and flexible office space, if it continues to be a cost-effective alternative for businesses, could turn out to be a buffer for the office market in the next downturn.

Leasing and sales remain robust and steady since reaching peak post-recession levels in 2015, may slow sharply over the next two years, along with price appreciation and rent growth, analysts and economists for several of the largest commercial property brokerages said.

Financing and Market Trends (Video)

28 Multi Family Units Sells in University City for Above $4M

by Steve Lubetkin,
The $4.2 million sale of University House Apartments, located at 801 South 47th Street in Philadelphia, PA traded earlier. The property features 28 apartments with a mix of studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units.

The property, originally built in 1923, was last acquired by Resource Real Estate in June 2017 as part of a three-property portfolio, for approximately $1.4 million of the portfolio’s $7 million sale price.
The buyer was not identified.

University House Apartments is situated in the highly sought-after Clark Park area of University City with convenient access to Interstates 76, 476 and 95.  It is situated on Baltimore Avenue, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, lined with restaurants and shops as well as a SEPTA trolley line that residents can take directly to Center City, Philadelphia.  This property is also within walking distance of the University of the Sciences Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania, and Drexel University.

“The seller was able to capitalize on strong market conditions and sell at a great price due to the demand of the University City submarket. The property was purchased by a local long-term holder that specializes in value-add opportunities in the University City market. They plan to renovate the kitchens and bathrooms to increase rents significantly at the property.”

Friday, December 21, 2018

Liberty Property Trust Trades Suburban Office Assets, Acquires More Industrials

by Steve Lubetkin,
Continuing its planned pivot to a singular focus on industrial properties, Liberty Property Trust says it disposed of suburban office properties near Philadelphia, while acquiring industrial assets in Southern California and financing of an industrial portfolio in the United Kingdom.

“We made a decision a number of years ago to become a major industrial player nationally,” Liberty’s CEO William Hankowsky said earlier this month at the Urban Land Institute of Philadelphia’s Real Estate Outlook meeting. “We really didn’t have a footprint to be an effective national operator, so we have worked over the last several years to increase that both that scale of that platform and the geography of that platform.”
Liberty sold five office properties totaling 335,866 square feet in Malvern, PA for $45.8 million. The properties consist of: 100 Chesterfield Parkway, 600 Chesterfield Parkway, 700 Chesterfield Parkway, 14 Lee Boulevard, and 12-16 Great Valley Parkway. Liberty executed $795.2 million in sales in 2018.

Liberty purchased two industrial properties totaling 447,570 square feet in Southern California for $60.2 million. The properties consist of 15025 Proctor Avenue, a fully-occupied, 128,581 square foot property in City of Industry, CA, and 520 E. Orange Show Road in San Bernardino, a 318,989 square foot development property acquired vacant.

Liberty’s in-service Southern California portfolio is 100% occupied. Liberty purchased $496.7 million in industrial properties in 2018.
“As we close out the year, Liberty has successfully executed on our strategy to reallocate capital from office to our growing industrial business,” says Mike Hagan, Liberty’s chief investment officer. “We have also secured permanent financing at very favorable terms on our UK industrial portfolio.”

In conjunction with Liberty’s previously announced £111 million acquisition of a 1.1 million square foot industrial portfolio in October, Liberty has financed a portfolio of 13 industrial properties located in the UK with a £129.5 million, 10-year, interest-only loan at 2.64%. This loan was used to repay short-term borrowings used to fund seven of the 13 properties acquired in October, as well as portions of Liberty’s existing UK industrial portfolio.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Urban Outfitters takes spec warehouse in Bucks County

by Natalie Kostelni  – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal
Urban Outfitters Inc. has signed a lease to occupy a 309,000-square-foot warehouse-distribution center in Bucks County.

Construction of the building got underway earlier this month and will be built on 20 acres in the Bristol Commerce Center, which is located near the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-95, making it ideal for a distribution hub.

Herring Properties, the landlord, was confident enough in its location that it had decided to build the structure without a tenant and had ordered construction materials.  They thought the building would get leased up before it was completed. He said two tenants — presumably Urban Outfitters was one of them — had been circling the property.

Developers have been bullish on the distribution market and have increased constructing such properties on speculation. Nearly 2 million square feet of the space has recently either broken ground or is expected to in the next couple of months. Much of the demand is being driven by retailers seeking last-mile distribution centers in densely-populated areas that are located near major highways. These last-mile distribution centers help with same-day and next-day delivery that many retailers offer consumers.
Fuly Story:

JV Acquires Eddystone Industrial Park Near Philadelphia

by Steve Lubetkin,
Foxfield Industrial, a joint venture between Novaya Real Estate Ventures and Foxfield Ventures, has acquired Eddystone Industrial Park, a four-building industrial park totaling 465,680 square feet in the Philadelphia-area community of Eddystone, PA.

 Foxfield Industrial arranged a $23.58 million acquisition loan with a regional commercial bank. Loan proceeds will be used to fund the acquisition, perform capital improvements and lease up of the property.
Situated on 43.7 acres at 1001 Industrial Highway, the property is in a last-mile distribution location near the major East Coast economic centers of New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. The property has easy access to Interstates 95, 295 and 476 in addition to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

This strong logistical location is near the Port of Wilmington, the only major east coast port that is serviced by two Class 1 railroads, CSX and Norfolk Southern. Eddystone Industrial Park features clear heights ranging from 18 to 60 feet, has 52 dock doors and 16 drive in doors. An additional 150,000-square-foot building could be developed on 18.43 acres of the property that is currently undeveloped land, which provides an opportunity to expand the park.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Ports and Transportation - Keeping Industrial CRE Moving (Video)

Developers have big plans for Norristown

by Oscar Gamble Times Herald
During a special council session at Norristown Municipal Hall, developers and consultants laid out the groundwork for their plans and projects for Norristown.

Director of Planning and Municipal Development Jayne Musonye introduced new Municipal Planner Geoffrey Grace of Grace Planning Associates. Grace told council members he is looking forward to bringing great new developments to Norristown and Musonye said Grace’s experience and development acumen allowed him to “hit the ground running.”

New Century Builders, who are planning a townhouse complex at 200 E. Logan Street, was the first to give a presentation.

The development will consist of 30 units — in five, six-unit sections— facing inward along three sides of the trapezoid-shaped lot. Each three-bedroom home will feature driveway and garage access and basements are included in preliminary plans.

An existing large tree will be preserved in the central courtyard.

To address concerns about traffic, the development team plans to allow access only from Arch Street.

New Century Co-owner Michael Marchese said the market-rate houses will be styled in a similar manner to other projects the company has done throughout Philadelphia and the city’s Manayunk section, although the actual design has not been settled on, — “contemporary, but without trying to bring the city to Norristown, necessarily.”

Site work on the project is slated for next year and the developers are hoping to get some of the units built by 2020. Examples of New Century Builders’ projects can be viewed on its website,
Full story:

KoP apartment complex trades for $75M

by Natalie Kostelni Reporter Philadelphia Business Journal

One of the first apartment complexes to be built in the Village at Valley Forge has traded for more than $75 million, according to Montgomery County property records.

MetLife Real Estate Investors paid $75.33 million, or $221,238 a unit for Hanover Valley Forge, a complex with 339 apartments. The developer of the project was Hanover Properties and Realen Properties, which is the master developer of the Village at Valley Forge. The sale was recorded with Montgomery County in September.

While there have been land sales in the mixed-use community, this marks the first multifamily sale in the Village at Valley Forge and underscores the price points commanded by the premium properties located within the community.

The King of Prussia Town Center, the retail component in the Village at Valley Forge, sold in May 2017 for $183 million, or $700 a square-foot. The center totals 263,423 square feet.

Full story:

Monday, December 17, 2018

Kimco Eyeing Potential to Unlock Embedded Value in Sears/Kmart Locations

Norriton Medical Center Sold

by Steve Lubetkin,
The Norriton Medical Center, a 74,212-square-foot medical center anchored by Einstein Orthopedics and Moss Rehabilitation Hospital, at 160-190 West Germantown Pike in the Philadelphia suburb of East Norriton, PA sold for $12.35 million.

The name of the buyer was not disclosed. The seller is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Franklin Realty Development Corporation.

Located in Greater Philadelphia, home to one of the largest concentrations of healthcare institutions, teaching hospitals, R&D facilities, and life sciences hubs in the country, Norriton Medical Center is located near the area’s largest hospitals, Einstein Medical Center Montgomery (1.4 miles) and Suburban Community Hospital (0.8 miles).

The 7.31-acre, four-building complex is currently 92 percent leased and features the area’s only nationally ranked rehabilitation facility that operates under the Einstein Healthcare Network umbrella

Hunter Truck Signs 10-Year, 81K SF Flex Lease in Philadelphia, PA

by Steve Lubetkin,
Hunter Truck, a family owned and operated network of truck dealerships, has signed a ten-year, 81,226 square-foot office/warehouse lease with Charter Road Realty for a property at 2811 Charter Road in Philadelphia, PA.

Hunter plans to operate a full-service International/Navistar heavy- and medium-duty truck dealership and an Idealease heavy- and medium-duty truck leasing company at the location.  The company says it will employe 40–50 people within the first year of operation.

Hunter has been in business for more than 80 years, with locations that span over multiple states in the Northeast (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia).

ShopOne Purchases Southampton Shopping Center

by Steve Lubetkin,
ShopOne Centers REIT, a New York-based owner, operator and manager of high-quality grocery-anchored shopping centers, has entered the Philadelphia market with its acquisition of Southampton Shopping Center, a 150,457 square-foot shopping center located in Southampton, PA. ShopOne’s strategy is to own well-located grocery anchored shopping centers in densely populated, fundamentally strong markets across the country.

Southampton Shopping Center is anchored by a market-leading, 59,892-square-foot Giant grocery store. Giant enjoys the highest market share in the Philadelphia metropolitan statistical area with nearly twice the share of its nearest competitor.
Southampton Shopping Center provided us with an excellent opportunity to enter a key market with high barriers to entry,” says Michael Carroll, chief executive officer of ShopOne. “Philadelphia is a target market for ShopOne. I am fortunate to have a long-standing relationship with the Giant team and I am thrilled to partner with them with them to maximize the performance of this property. In a continually evolving retail real estate market, this purchase of this center adds another stable, well-performing asset to our portfolio.”

Located 3.5 miles from the city limits of Northeast Philadelphia, Southampton Shopping Center is supported by strong demographic and economic fundamentals. The 5-mile radius surrounding the shopping center contains a population of over 210,000 with an average household income of over $98,000. Over the last three years, 74% of the in-place shop space at the property has executed lease renewals at rental rates that are on average 9% higher.

Southampton Shopping Center features a unique mix of restaurants and shops including Saladworks, Robin Hood Restaurant,  Tuesday Morning, Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits, and three banks with total deposits in excess of $317 million.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Economic and Commercial Outlook-Investor Sentiment and Sector Outlook (Video)

Industrial: Still a Favored Sector? (Video)

Endurance Real Estate Group Breaks Ground on 125,000-SF Distribution Center in Pittston, Pennsylvania

Endurance Real Estate Group, along with Blue Vista Capital, a Chicago-based investment management firm, broke ground on a 125,125-square-foot build-to-suit facility adjacent to Interstate 81 in Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Plans for the single-story structure at 140 Industrial Drive call for 193 loading docks, two drive-in bays, 54- by 45-foot column spacing and a 40-foot clear ceiling height. Spanning 225 acres, the facility will be less than five miles from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

In addition to the build-to-suit facility, the first phase of the development plan for Interstate Distribution Center includes construction of a 1.08 million-square-foot building, which is currently underway. The second development phase includes a third building on the northern part of the site anticipated to be around 500,000 square feet.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hampshire Companies Doubles Down on Philadelphia Self-Storage

by Steve Lubetkin,
The Hampshire Companies continues to grow its self-storage portfolio with the opening of two facilities totaling more than 200,000 square feet of new, state-of-the-art self-storage space. The two locations, a 110,532-square-foot self-storage facility at 1240 Chester Pike in Crum Lynne, PA, and a 93,353-square-foot self-storage facility at 59 Leverington Avenue in the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA, mark Hampshire’s 32nd and 33rd self-storage developments projects completed since 2012 and the fourth and fifth developments in the Philadelphia area.
“With over 20 years of self-storage development, our team has been integral in the successful evolution of the asset class to better meet the needs of today’s customers and communities,” says James E. Hanson II, president and CEO of The Hampshire Companies. “Our extensive experience allows us to successfully deliver these best-in-class, modern self-storage facilities to a wide range of markets and bring an important community amenity to underserved areas while providing our investors, lenders and partners with strong returns.”

The Crum Lynne and Manayunk facilities feature modern architecture, climate-controlled storage units and state-of-the-art security systems. They will be professionally operated by Extra Space Storage, one of the nation’s preeminent self-storage REITs. Located at a lighted interchange in densely populated Ridley Township, the three-story Crum Lynne building features a strong retail orientation and is situated prominently with visibility from I-95.  The Manayunk facility is in one of the most well established, desirable and densely populated neighborhoods in the city of Philadelphia.

“While we have a long history in self-storage, we’ve been particularly bullish on development opportunities for the past few years,” says Don Engels, senior vice president of self-storage acquisitions and development. “We continually look to source deals in under-served, densely populated areas in an effort to deliver these increasingly in-demand assets and deliver them to local markets throughout the northeast. Crum Lynne and Manayunk are both excellent locations with strong demographics that fit extremely well within our self-storage investment strategy and we look forward to continuing to pursue opportunities in this market.”
The two ground-up development projects speak to Hampshire’s time-tested site selection and entitlement capabilities. Built around leveraging their experience in deploying capital into mature markets with high barriers to entry and populations underserved by self-storage, Hampshire has shown a unique ability to successfully deliver institutional quality self-storage projects on time and on budget in a wide variety of markets. As the second largest metropolitan area in the northeast, Philadelphia’s demographics and market fundamentals aligned perfectly with Hampshire’s successful self-storage investment strategy.

Since 2012 alone, Hampshire has built a robust portfolio of self-storage facilities along the eastern United States, having repositioned or developed 33 self-storage facilities with an aggregate value of more than $415 million. Presently, Hampshire has 12 self-storage development projects underway aggregating $217 million of investment across the eastern United States and is targeting another 14 additional projects with an aggregate value of $243 million in the pipeline.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Video- REIT Updates for Healthcare, Senior Housing, Affordable Housing, Assisted Living & Lodging

LTC Properties CEO Says Health Care Sector Discussing Affordable Options for Assisted Living Chatham Lodging Trust Focusing on Fast-Growth Markets

Industrial CRE Market Update (Video)

PAG Acquires 294K SF Williamsport, PA, Retail Center, Loyal Plaza

by Steve Lubetkin,
Loyal Plaza, a 293,607-square-foot, value-add shopping center anchored by GIANT Food Stores and Kmart in the northern Pennsylvania community of Williamsport, PA, has been sold to New York-based PAG Investments.

“In addition to a high-performing grocery anchor and value-add opportunities through re-tenanting, Loyal Plaza is positioned on strong fundamental real estate. The sale was a highly competitive process with a good depth of regional and national buyers.”

Blackstone acquired the property in May 2016 from RioCan REIT for $22.6 million. Financial terms of the current transaction were not disclosed.

“We were able to secure a short-term loan that enabled PAG to acquire Loyal Plaza and provide them with the necessary time and funds that will be required to unlock the value of this shopping center."

Anchored by GIANT and Kmart, the 94.1%-leased Loyal Plaza is also home to Dollar Tree, Verizon Wireless, Staples, Great Clips, BB&T Bank, Rite Aid and Red Lobster, among others.  Situated at 1915-1965 East 3rd Street, Loyal Plaza is visible to more than 23,000 vehicles per day.  The center is in Williamsport, the primary economic center of Lycoming County, and is less than one mile off Interstate 180, which provides easy access to Interstate 80.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Low Income Urban Areas Hold Untapped Potential, Retailers and Developers Say

Urban areas marked by lower income and higher population density have often been overlooked by retailers, according to executives at Starbucks and Nike, two national chains that are making a push into those markets. They say that beneath the surface, these areas represent an expanding opportunity with untapped and understudied buying power.

The characteristics of these areas require a unique business approach, executives say. U.S. consumer spending has increased 97 percent since 2000, with the highest levels of growth in underserved, minority markets, according to data from the International Council of Shopping Centers, known as ICSC. Hispanic Americans and African Americans held $2.8 trillion in buying power combined in 2018, while the buying power of Native Americas has grown to $115 billion in 2018, almost triple than in 2000.

“Not every retailer sees the spending power of urban environments, many have not figured out how to crack that egg,” Robin Zeigler, chief operating officer of Cedar Realty Trust, a landlord and developer of open-air shopping centers in the U.S. northeast. She made the comments during a panel discussion at the ICSC New York Deal Making conference in New York.

One category of retailer has picked up on the opportunity: the dollar store. Dollar General, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree, and low-price grocers.

"Aldi and Lidl combined will open 3,000 stores next year,” according to Nick A. Egelanian, president of retail real estate consulting firm SiteWorks. “The trend is income disparity and it is very real. It is a vastly growing portion of America that buys goods paycheck to paycheck, about 70 percent. Why do you think Walmart is the largest grocer in 65 percent of states?”

Athletic gear seller Nike and Starbucks, which typically carry higher-priced merchandise, are breaking into these markets in a different manner by developing a retail concept dubbed the community store. These stores hire most of their employees locally and work with nonprofit organizations, with a goal of spurring growth and fostering a deeper connection with their neighborhoods.

“Community stores are part of a special Starbucks initiative to support youth and economic development in diverse, underserved areas of the country. Each community store seeks to hire from the neighborhood and partner with local women- and minority-owned businesses. Community stores also feature classroom space to provide in-store job training for young people ages 16 to 24 who aren’t in school or working,” Starbucks wrote in a blog post about its 12th and newest community store, which opened in Dallas last week.

Rahel Fikre, store development manager for the mid-Atlantic region at Starbucks, said, “One thing we did differently in the last couple of years was start opening community stores. When we launched community stores we focused on areas of lower income in urban neighborhoods that lacked food services."

A similar idea on a smaller scale is furniture retailer Raymour and Flannigan, which hosts in-house community events like fundraisers and concerts in each of its 95 stores in the U.S. Northeast.

Nike and Starbucks are “the best examples of retailers in underserved markets, but they are an anomaly among retailers,” said Cedar Realty Trust's Zeigler.

These urban, low-income markets are underserved even though analysts say the United States as a whole has too much retail space. About 15.3 billion square feet of retail real estate exists within the U.S., of which 7 billion square feet are shopping centers, according to data from CoStar Market Analytics. The U.S. has about 24.5 square feet of retail space per person on average, compared to 4.5 square feet in Europe, Egelanian said.

To tap the opportunity, Nike Real Estate Manager Natalie Hooper said, "When we went into downtown Detroit, which at the time had negative growth, we went into a block with little going on and hired locally to be part of the community and to be authentic.” Its community store employees volunteer for initiatives such as the Boys and Girls Club, she said.

When building in lower-income urban markets, the importance of community engagement is critical, said Zeigler. For instance, when looking for untapped markets, Cedar Realty Trust focuses on “food deserts” or those areas in need of fresh food or close-by grocery stores, she added. As a byproduct of the structure of grocery-anchored shopping centers, they develop space for stores that provide food, sell convenience items and offer retail services.

“When you are a developer deciding to build in an urban community, you are really committing to that neighborhood,” Zeigler said. “To be successful, you have to reach out to key stakeholders in the community, local politicians, community leaders and residents, to hear their needs and wants and make sure the community is invested in what you’re building,” she noted. “You must make sure you are embracing that. That footwork is critical all the way.”

Dealing with a deteriorating state of buildings is also part of the footwork for developers or retailers going into some lower income markets.

“Space and capital is an issue in these markets, but we will put in the capital to make it work. We will invest in creative ways to make it work as a business case,” Hooper said. The Brooklyn community store opened in a former club and had to be gutted and retrofitted, for example.

Cedar Realty is in-development of a 1 million-square-foot, mixed use development in southern Philadelphia called South Quarter Crossing, which will have 800,000 square feet of retail, 27,000 square feet of office space and 210 apartment units. In Washington, D.C., it has built a 150,000-square foot shopping center called East River Park (pictured, above) and in August the company acquired an adjacent 62,000-square-foot retail property to expand the center.

“In our more urban centers where we have grocery-anchored shopping centers, there is protection from any digital divide,” Zeigler added, noting that Cedar Realty Trust’s developments are typically insulated from e-commerce. “This is not the consumer in suburban or wealthy urban markets doing online grocery shopping. In urban markets they don’t shop like that. They go at least once per week to the grocery store, sometimes more. In urban markets, they don’t shop on They take their kids to the shoe store.”

Small Leases Rise to Dominate New Jersey's Office Market

When it comes to office leasing in New Jersey, it's not a big deal anymore.

During the past five years or so, office leases for less than 10,000 square feet, relatively small deals, have increased so much that they now dominate that sector of the Garden State's real estate market.

"New Jersey has become a small deal market. The Incredible Shrinking Deal."

Last year marked a five-year low in the number of large-sized office lease transactions in New Jersey, and leasing through the third quarter in 2018 the number of big leases is pacing to drop even more this year. At the same time, the volume of small leases has been on an upswing since 2013, the report said.

CoStar data supports those findings, as well, with the average space leased declining from 2013 to 2018. In 2013 for New Jersey, there were 3,896 leases signed for an average of 4,375 square feet per lease, according to CoStar Market Analyst Adin Perera. This past year, there were 4,031 leases averaging less square footage, 4,047, he said. Year to date in 2018, the average square footage has dropped all the way down to 3,355 for the 3,142 leases signed so far, according to CoStar, which tracks office rentals as small as under 1,000 square feet, even 50 square feet.

Statistics vary from CoStar's, but support the same trend.

"The growing prominence of small deals can also be seen in the declining average transaction size in the market. The average deal size in the first three-quarters of 2018 was 11,950 square feet, a 37.5 percent drop from the high-point mark set in 2015. While the 2018 year-to-date figure is a slight uptick over 2017, the growing volume of transactions below 10,000 square feet suggests that the average transaction size will remain far below the peak level for the near term."

While New Jersey has enjoyed job growth and declining unemployment, the fundamentals of its office market have stayed the same. The state remains saddled with large outdated suburban office buildings and parks that millennial-seeking companies aren't interested in, leading to fewer large lease transactions of 50,000 square feet or more and less leasing activity, the brokerage said.

Fewer large companies appear to be relocating to the Garden State, in part because of its high cost to do business and its old office parks, according to Perera. Merck's former corporate campus in leafy Readington, New Jersey, remained on the market for years until IT provider Unicom Corp. bought it this year.
“The combined impact of too many large blocks and not enough large-block demand suggests that the market is likely to see the current availability and rent levels persist. Changing the trajectory of the market will require reducing the oversupply of space and realigning available inventory to better meet the demands of current and future tenants in the market.”

There have only been 16 office leases involving 50,000 square feet or more so far this year, according to CoStar. Last year, there were 33 such large deals. That was a drop from 53 large lease deals in 2016, and 65 in 2015, CoStar said.

There was "a mismatch" between supply and demand regarding the size of spaces available in the New Jersey market.

"On the one hand, there is an ample supply of spaces available in the larger size categories ... On the other hand, looking at the smaller space availabilities, there is a potential shortage. Our forecast indicates 194 potential new transactions to take place in the fourth quarter of the year, but only 277 currently available blocks of 10,000 square feet or below to accommodate that demand. Landlords are frequently reluctant to break up larger blocks of space for a variety of reasons and despite an obvious potential solution, small tenants may find themselves facing a dearth of desirable suites in the sizes that they need."

Based on that landscape,  landlords are advised to offer flexible lease terms, consider shared-space alternatives, upgrade properties to better compete for tenants, and to repurpose outdated office properties.

Small leases are not necessarily a bad thing since such tenants are sometimes start-ups or smaller businesses with potential for growth.

Local Investment Company Acquires 228-Room Hotel in Downtown Philadelphia

Pearl Properties, a local full service investment, management and development company, purchased a 288-room hotel in downtown Philadelphia from Pebblebrook Hotel Trust. The Embassy Suites Center City Hotel sold for $67 million, or about $233,000 per room.

Built in 1965, the recently renovated, all-suite hotel at 1776 Benjamin Franklin Parkway comprises 5,000 square feet of meeting space and a 150-space garage. The 28-story structure spans half an acre less than four blocks from the Race Vine subway station.

Reed Slogoff, principal of Pearl, said in a statement, “As the area continues to see significant retail, commercial and residential development, we are confident The Embassy Suites Center City Hotel will benefit from our renewed focus and is perfectly situated to cater to business travelers, conventioneers and tourists.”

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Center City District Sees Philadelphia Retail Transforming, Repositioning

by Steve Lubetkin,
From the changing retail mix along Rittenhouse Row to the expanding food and beverage offerings on East Market and Chestnut streets, Center City’s retail landscape is being transformed and repositioned to meet the needs of the growing millennial population in Center City, while continuing to serve Philadelphia workers, residents and visitors.

Center City’s retail market is experiencing the shifting dynamics affecting retailers everywhere but is faring far better: vacancy along prime retail corridors in Center City is just 5.4%. By comparison, Q2 2018 retail vacancies hit 10.2% nationally and 8.4% regionally, according to Center City District’s annual report on the state of downtown retail.
Center City’s 3,195 active storefronts in 2018 consist of 986 retail stores, 1,005 food establishments and 1,204 service providers. And despite the recent additions of well-known national retailers, Center City shopping remains distinct from everywhere else in the region: 743 of those 986 retail stores in the downtown—three out of four—are local businesses.

Center City’s long-established Rittenhouse Row shopping district has grown beyond its previous confines along West Walnut Street as rents have increased, transforming West Chestnut Street and the connecting numbered streets and expanding the boundaries of Philadelphia’s prime retail corridor.

Meanwhile, east of Broad Street in the burgeoning Market East district, strong demand is being driven by national retailers seeking larger floor plates and by local businesses seeking lower rents than what is found west of Broad.
With three major retail-driven developments completed since 2016, two more currently under construction and another in the pipeline, Market East will see the addition of 1.2 million square feet of retail in the next few years, representing a $910 million investment. This critical mass of large-scale mixed-use development will development will create a continuous shopping and dining district from Independence Mall to City Hall.

Affordable Apartments, with Space for Special Needs Adults, Launched in Gibbsboro, NJ

by Steve Lubetkin,
Freedom Village at Gibbsboro is getting underway, a new 72-unit affordable apartment complex for families, which will include 18 units for residents with special needs.

Freedom Village at Gibbsboro is the ninth project for which the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency has provided financing to developer Project Freedom, resulting in the development of over 500 affordable units throughout Mercer, Ocean, Burlington, Camden and Salem counties.
“People with special needs face extraordinary life challenges.  Finding an affordable place to live should not be one of them,” says Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, who also serves as commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs and chair of the NJHMFA board. “This project upholds the administration’s promise to help residents most in need find an affordable, accessible, and permanent home in New Jersey.”

The development, to be built on a seven-acre tract on South Lakeview Drive (County Route 561), will include four L-shaped, three-story buildings and a community center.

Fifty-four apartments are targeted for families with low-to-moderate incomes up to 60% of the area median income. Ten units will be set aside for developmentally disabled residents, and eight apartments are designated for residents who are consumers of mental health services.
The one- to three-bedroom rental units will all be wheelchair accessible and feature wider doors and hallways, an open floor design, accessible kitchens, some bathrooms with bathtubs and some with roll-in showers.

“We are proud of our long partnership with Project Freedom to provide homes that are not only affordable to working families but especially to residents with special needs,” says NJHMFA executive director Charles A. Richman. “Project Freedom’s commitment to barrier-free living enables residents with special needs to fully integrate into the community.”

NJHMFA awarded the $19.1 million development competitive nine percent federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which are expected to generate $13.3 million in private equity. Additional funding comes from TD Bank, Federal Home Loan Bank and Investors Bank.

The development will be within walking distance of businesses and amenities and is encircled by the Gibbsboro Greenway. Project Freedom also provides scheduled bus trips to area shopping centers and other nearby amenities, and works with residents to secure transportation via NJ Transit’s Access Link.

Construction is expected to be complete by December 2019, with rents ranging from $681 to $945. Each developmentally disabled resident will have a service provider for necessary support. Service providers are selected by the consumer, and the services are individualized to meet the needs of each resident.  South Jersey Behavioral Health Resources will provide supportive services for residents with mental health disabilities. Project Freedom will be providing educational training and employment opportunities to all tenants at no cost through the Opportunities for All program.

Monday, December 10, 2018

American Equity Partners Acquires Northeast Philadelphia Industrial Properties

by Steve Lubetkin,
Edison, NJ-based American Equity partners has acquired a 195,205 square-foot portfolio of six industrial properties on 29.7 acres in lower Northeast Philadelphia for $17.5 million.

“Given the properties’ locations within minutes from center city Philadelphia as well as their proximity to last mile delivery locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, collectively the assets serve as strong additions to our growing portfolio,” says David Elkouby, president, American Equity Partners.
The featured property within the portfolio is a 164-door, 95,000 square-foot truck terminal located on about 14 acres at 3820 N. 2nd Street, which also includes 8,000 square feet of office space. The additional properties are located near The Port of Philadelphia and its airport. The portfolio offers easy access to last mile delivery locations not only to Pennsylvania, but to Southern New Jersey via U.S. Route 1, I-76 and I-95. Its current tenants include H&M, Fresh Direct, Amazon among others.

“Situated off the Betsy Ross Bridge, this unique portfolio served as an exceptional addition to AEP’s portfolio who was looking for a value-add investment in which to reinvest their capital via a 1031 Exchange. As more and more consumers turn to online shopping, fast ecommerce fulfillment expectations are a priority. The ‘last mile’ of delivery from the warehouse to the customer’s doorstep is the final step within the supply chain process. It is also the most vital, expensive and time-consuming part to same-day delivery. Located within Philadelphia’s 1.56 million demographic region, the amount of docks, fenced-in parking and its accessibility to multiple highways have prepared these facilities to be an essential part of that process, which is evident in its current tenant base.”

85K SF Industrial at 500 State Road, PA, Sold for $4.7M

by Steve Lubetkin,
The sale of the 84,953 square-foot 500 State Road, Bensalem Township, Bucks County, PA traded recently. The property, a modern one-story masonry and steel multi-tenant building situated on 4.15 acres was sold to 500 State LLC, a privately held real estate investment firm, on behalf of State Road Associates, the previous owner.

The building is presently divided into three units—Unit A (approx. 24,233 square feet), which is occupied by Easy Heat Wood Pellets, Unit B (approx. 18,710 square feet) and Unit C (approx. 42,010 square feet), which are occupied by Betz Plumbing and Heating Supply.  In addition, a portion of the site is also leased to Omnipoint for the location of a cell tower.
The building is heated and sprinklered throughout and offers ceiling heights from 24-feet to 24-feet, 9 inch clear, twelve tailgate docks, five drive-in doors, 42-foot by 30-foot column spacing, and about 8,600 square feet of office space, with parking for 62 cars.

Strategically situated between the Academy Road and Woodhaven Road Interchange of I-95, the property offers convenient access to the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Exit 351/Bensalem) as well as Route 1 and the Betsy Ross Bridge and Tacony–Palmyra Bridge to New Jersey.  The property is just 20 minutes from metropolitan Philadelphia, 30 minutes from Trenton, NJ and 90 minutes from New York.

Friday, December 7, 2018

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Stadium Casino Proposing $150M Casino at Westmoreland Mall in Hempfield Township, PA

by Steve Lubetkin,
Stadium Casino, an affiliate of The Cordish Companies, has presented plans to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for a proposed Category 4 satellite gaming facility to be developed at the Westmoreland Mall in Hempfield Township, PA, located directly off Route 30, approximately 30 miles from downtown Pittsburgh.

The presentation for the new Live! Casino was made during a Public Input Hearing, where Cordish representatives gave an overview of the 100,000-square-foot gaming, dining and entertainment destination, which will take over a space formerly occupied by the Bon-Ton department store. The Live! facility will be part of the popular 1.3-million-square-foot Westmoreland Mall development.
The Live! project, which represents an investment of $150 million, will be a world-class gaming, dining and entertainment destination, featuring 750 slots and electronic table games and approximately 30 live action table games; plus, nationally-recognized restaurants and live entertainment venues.

Live! Casino is projected to generate $200 million in annual economic impact, with an additional $148 million in economic impact from construction, including approximately 960 direct and indirect construction jobs, plus more than 500 permanent new jobs for local and regional residents, Cordish says. In addition, the project will create numerous construction and operations vendor opportunities for local, minority, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses, along with considerable support for local charities and non-profits.

Project plans are subject to the review and approval of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Once approved, a construction timeline will be determined.
“We look forward to working with the Gaming Control Board, Hempfield Township and Westmoreland County to create a first-class gaming and entertainment destination that will generate millions of new tax dollars and create hundreds of new jobs for the region,” says Joe Weinberg, partner in Stadium Casino.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

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Ocean Kingdom Acquires Island Avenue Industrial in Philadelphia

by Steve Lubetkin,
Ocean Kingdom, a seafood wholesaler headquarterd in Swedesboro, NJ, has acquired 3601 Island Avenue in Philadelphia, PA, a 84,400-square-foot industry facility. The seller was not identified, but according to Real Capital Analytics, a proprietary research database that tracks commercial real estate transactions, the property last changed hands in March 2015, when Kulp Car Rentals acquired it from Pennock Co., for $3.4 million.

“The industrial market in Philadelphia, and the surrounding region, is very strong and buyers are extremely attracted to acquiring quality facilities with excellent access to the highways like this building on Island Avenue, which is located just off I-95."
Ocean Kingdom will use part of the building and will lease the rest of the property to two existing tenants.

Located on six acres, 3601 Island Avenue is just minutes from Philadelphia International Airport, and offers immediate access to Interstates 95 and 76, as well as the Walt Whitman Bridge. The property is serviced by public transportation and features six-inch reinforced concrete floors, ceiling heights from 15 to 23 feet, six tailgates, 14 covered van-high loading positions and office street parking for over 250 vehicles.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Planet Fitness Inks Deal in New Castle, DE

Planet Fitness, franchisor and operator of fitness centers with more than 1,600 clubs, signed a 25,000-square-foot lease at Stat Organization’s Airport Plaza shopping center in New Castle, Delaware.

The single-story structure at 148 Sunset Blvd. was built in 1993. Spanning nearly 30 acres, the Class B center is less than 10 miles from University of Delaware.

CRG Starting Spec Industrial in Lehigh Valley

by Steve Lubetkin,
St. Louis, MO-based CRG has begun construction of The Cubes at Lehigh Valley – Airport Road, a 450,000 square-foot speculative industrial building in the Lehigh Valley. The 40-acre site is 60 miles west of the Port of Newark in East Allen Township, PA.

“CRG has looked for superior sites throughout the region and The Cubes at Lehigh Valley – Airport Road is our first foothold in the Lehigh Valley industrial market. We see significant opportunity along Route 22 and I-78 corridors,” says CRG senior vice president Frank Petkunas. “The Cubes is in a position to capture the future growth for large warehouse distribution and e-commerce fulfillment centers. This is one more step CRG is taking to enhance its industrial portfolio.”
With excellent access to US Route 22, I-78 and I-476, the site is strategically located 60 miles from the Port of Newark and close to FedEx’s largest ground hub in the United States at Lehigh Valley International Airport.

CRG has joint-ventured for the fourth time with USLF 1 for the development of The Cubes at Lehigh Valley – Airport Road. The completed 450,000 square foot warehouse will have high-efficiency LED lighting, generous dock doors and trailer storage as well as car parks associated with state-of-the-art industrial distribution centers seen throughout the country.

Clayco will serve as the design-builder on the project and its subsidiary, BatesForum Studio is the architect on the project.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

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Aramark Inks 16,000sf Deal at Downtown Philadelphia Office Tower

Aramark, a food service, facilities and uniform services provider, signed a 15,857-square-foot lease at Nightingale Properties’ and Carlton Associates’ Class A office tower in Philadelphia.

The 686,503-square-foot, 29-story structure at 1835 Market St. was built in 1986 and renovated in 1997. The 4-Star property spans nearly an acre less than two blocks from the 19th Street light rail station.

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MCR Acquires Residence Inn Near Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA

by Steve Lubetkin,
MCR, the sixth-largest hotel owner-operator in the United States, has acquired the 100-suite Residence Inn by Marriott Philadelphia Langhorne less than one mile from the Sesame Place theme park.

The hotel embraces the Sesame Street theme with characters and activities familiar to fans of the famous TV show and theme park.
The Residence Inn by Marriott Philadelphia Langhorne is located at 15 Cabot Boulevard East and features: 100 pet-friendly suites with fully-equipped kitchens , free full American breakfast, free fast Wi-Fi, a convenience store, heated indoor pool and a whirlpool spa, 24-hour fitness center with cardio equipment and free weights, A 24-hour business center, On-site laundry service,

Pearl Properties Acquires Embassy Suites Center City Hotel at 1776 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

by Steve Lubetkin,
Pearl Properties, the Center City-based real estate investment and development firm, has added a second hotel to its portfolio in the heart of Philadelphia with the acquisition of 1776 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, The Embassy Suites Center City Hotel. This recently renovated, all-suite hotel features 288 suites, 5,000 square feet of meeting space and a 150-space garage, all located at the gateway of Center City.

The Embassy Suites Center City Hotel is one block from the newly completed Comcast Technology Center, part of Comcast’s three million square-foot campus, the Pennsylvania Convention Center and numerous tourist attractions along the Parkway, including The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the world-renowned Barnes Foundation, The Rodin Museum and many others.
“In early 2018, Pearl opened the Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown Center City on Broad Street because we saw strong fundamentals in the Center City hotel market for assets in prime locations,” says Reed Slogoff, principal of Pearl Properties. “And, as evidenced by our recent purchase of the former United Way headquarters directly across the Parkway at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, we’re equally bullish on the Parkway transformation that is well underway. As the area continues to see significant retail, commercial and residential development, we are confident The Embassy Suites Center City Hotel will benefit from our renewed focus and is perfectly situated to cater to business travelers, conventioneers and tourists.”

The Embassy Suites Center City Hotel features numerous enhancements following a recent renovation that included complete renovations of all guest rooms, common space, the lobby and elevators. Pearl says it has plans for additional upgrades that will include new restaurant spaces.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Brandywine Plans 280K SF Trophy-Class Office Property in Plymouth Meeting, PA

by Steve Lubetkin,
Brandywine Realty Trust will construct Metroplex Two, a 280,000 square-foot, trophy-class office building it says will introduce world-class architecture and urban design to the Philadelphia suburbs.

Located in the heart of Plymouth Meeting, Metroplex Two will serve as the signature component of Brandywine’s 23-acre master-planned Metroplex campus, currently home to Metroplex One, a 120,000 square-foot trophy-class office building. Designed to be a workplace of the future, the immersive environment will center around wellness, productivity and creativity, while offering unparalleled amenities, social interactions, collaborative work settings and advanced technology.

“Plymouth Meeting is one of the Greater Philadelphia region’s most sought after suburban markets. Following the success of Metroplex One, we saw significant value in creating a striking and innovative ground-up development that could attract large, forward-thinking brands to the region,” says Jerry Sweeney, president & CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust. “As part of a well-designed, amenity-rich complex adjacent to growing residential areas and transportation hubs, Metroplex Two will be an inspired workplace that fosters innovation and fresh ideas.”

New York -based NBBJ, a globally-renowned architecture firm specializing in driving innovation through the creation of highly productive and sustainable spaces, was selected to bring Brandywine’s vision for Metroplex Two to life. Merging visually arresting design and functional elegance, Metroplex Two will boast the most desired attributes of a creative, modern office, including open and efficient floorplates, loft-style workspaces, floor-to-ceiling windows featuring stunning views and an abundance of natural light.

Metroplex Two’s amenity-rich environment features several gathering spaces and three terraces—including a WiFi-enabled outdoor Sky Terrace, expansive lawn, and a state-of-the-art conference center. The Sky Terrace includes ample seating, fire pits, televisions, and The Lawn, a sprawling courtyard and greenspace, is perfect for both private convening and community-wide activities. Additional amenities include a parking garage, a secure package delivery room, a fitness center, and immediate access to the Cross County Trail which connects to the Schuylkill River Trail. There is a designated spot for food trucks, and outdoor seating areas to eat or collaborate.

Targeting LEED Silver certification and an Energy Star rating, the functional design of tiered metal panels sheathed in 10-foot floor-to-ceiling Low-E glass will enhance Metroplex Two’s visual appeal while respecting the environment.

The Metroplex campus seamlessly blends urban sensibility with daily accessibility. Its location makes it highly desirable and strategically positioned at the convergence of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-276), the Blue Route (I-476) and the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-476). This Mid-County Interchange access makes commuting seamless for employees and acts as a quintessential logistical hub with more than 88 million vehicles per day. The campus is also served by public transportation via Chemical Road and offers an effortless connection for bike commuters by way of the on-site Montgomery County Trail system and nearby Schuylkill River Trail.

The suburb of Plymouth Meeting is home to a wide variety of personal and business conveniences including high-end shopping centers, numerous restaurants, multiple hospitality options, fitness clubs and daycare centers. These additional nearby amenities offer tenants an extraordinary live, work, play lifestyle.

Metroplex Two anticipates seeing the same resounding success as Metroplex One, which is fully leased and home to an array of tenants from prominent law firms to leading healthcare companies.

“Metroplex Two is sensational, as it checks many boxes for tenants between its accessible location, sustainable design, extensive list of amenities, and exceptional tenant branding opportunities. It will offer any corporation the ultimate office environment and one the Philadelphia market has yet to experience. It’s the kind of building that will not only attract talent but make them never want to work anywhere else. The suburban location removes the pains of parking and employees will reap additional benefits from the fitness center, ample outdoor space, and the wide range of retail and restaurant options in the immediate area.”

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