Friday, September 24, 2021

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JV Plans 611-Unit Multifamily Project in Philadelphia's Navy Yard

 By Chris Sangiuliano CoStar Research

A joint venture between Ensemble Real Estate Investments and Mosaic Development Partners is planning to build a residential complex in the Philadelphia Navy Yard as part of its $2.5 billion development plan for the high-profile redevelopment project.

The complex, called Chapel Block, is located at 1200 Normandy Place and will comprise a seven-story building and two connected six-story buildings. Chapel Block will include a mix of luxury and mixed-income apartments, 75,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor resident amenity space and 26,000 square feet of space for restaurants and retail.

The seven-story building will be developed on the north end of the Chapel Block site in partnership with Korman Communities under its residential real estate brand, AVE. Called AVE Navy Yard, the building will include 265 luxury units, a portion of which will be reserved as flexible-stay, fully furnished apartments offered on a monthly basis for people who need a temporary living option. The building's amenities will include a pool, media theater, fire pit lounge, grilling stations, meeting spaces, golf simulator, music studio and pet spa.

On the south end of Chapel Block, the two six-story buildings will contain 346 market-rate and affordable units. The two buildings will be connected on the ground floor by shared amenities, including a fitness center, business center, lounge areas, game area, party room with gourmet kitchen, pet spa and bike storage.

Chapel Block was designed by a partnership between Philadelphia-based DIGSAU, the design architect, and Columbus, Ohio-based Moody Nolan, the architect of record.

"Ensemble/Mosaic is on the cusp of reaching a longstanding, identity-shifting objective — to evolve the Navy Yard into a fully functioning Philadelphia neighborhood," Brian Cohen, senior vice president at Ensemble, said in a statement. "We are incredibly excited at the prospect of creating a vibrant and diverse residential community so people may further enjoy this unique location and all it has to offer.

Earlier this year, PIDC, the public-private economic development corporation and master developer of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, executed an an agreement that provides Ensemble and Mosaic with the exclusive development rights for 109 acres in the Navy Yard. That agreement launched a $2.5 billion development plan by Ensemble and Mosaic that's set to create thousands of construction and permanent jobs. Ensemble and Mosaic were selected as the co-development team for this project in July 2020 after PIDC put out a call for prospective partners through a request for qualifications in September 2019.

Ensemble and Mosaic is working with PIDC and the Navy to complete the technical steps necessary to lift the residential deed restrictions on the parcel where Chapel Block will be developed.

The joint venture plans to break ground on the project in 2022 and open the complex in 2024.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

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Amazon's New 3.8M SF Mega Warehouse in Wilmington, DE

 By Linda Moss CoStar News

It’s named for an airport. Its mascot is a dragon. Its motto is “Courage to start, heart to finish.” And it’s a logistics behemoth. Welcome to Amazon’s newest next-generation robotic fulfillment center.

The e-commerce juggernaut opened the 3.8 million-square-foot facility this month in Wilmington, Delaware, at the site of a former General Motors assembly plant at 1025 Boxwood Road. Dermody Properties of Reno, Nevada, is the developer and landlord of the project that Amazon is leasing, one of the company’s biggest facilities in operation.

Seattle-based Amazon has at least 16 mega distribution facilities that span at least 2 million square feet under construction or proposed across the United States and Canada, according to Ben Atwood, a senior market analyst at CoStar Group who has been tracking the data. The e-tailer, which is increasingly using robotic technology at its facilities, has been pressed to accommodate the increasing demand from online shopping, which was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. That's one reason Amazon has been the nation's most active industrial tenant.

The company is usually fairly tight-lipped when it comes to its warehouses and distribution centers, but this week it invited local officials and the media to tour the state-of-the-art Wilmington site. Photographers were barred from taking photos of certain parts of the plant, for proprietary reasons, Amazon said. The brand new building is five stories tall, with a 640,000-square-foot ground floor and gigantic floor plates.

“Just picture 17 football fields five times going up … pretty big, overall, for a facility,” Will Carney, the center’s general manager and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, told reporters on Tuesday.

The facility has hired 500 workers so far and is looking to add another 500 to the site, according to Amazon officials. Carney, whose work at Amazon includes a stint at its 1.7 million-square-foot site in West Deptford, New Jersey, said there have been about four other super-robotics launches that Jeff Bezos’s giant business has debuted recently.

Airport Inspiration

The Wilmington facility is called MTN1. Amazon fulfillment’s centers are named after local airports, and MTN1 got its moniker from Martin State Airport in Maryland, according to Jairaj Vora, the site’s assistant general manager.

Because MTN1 is just getting up and running and isn’t fully staffed yet, there weren’t that many employees to be seen during the media tour. The center is a seemingly endless sea of conveyors and ramps and stacks of yellow bins used to transport, sort and stow products. The noise was loud enough that reporters were given headsets with speakers so they were able to hear Vora over the din during the tour.

The loud noise gives one indication of what some Amazon workers across the country have complained can be tough working conditions with high productivity goals at some of the company's facilities.

The next stop “upstream,” as Amazon officials would say, is for these orders to be sent to Amazon sorting stations and delivery stations, so they can travel the so-called last mile to shoppers. Amazon has a delivery station next to the new Wilmington fulfillment site, according to Carney.

Robots save Amazon employees lots of steps, according Vora, who said in some facilities workers had been walking the equivalent of 20 miles during a shift. And having fewer humans on the floor puts them less at risk physically, Amazon officials said, for example, from being hurt in an accident.

The corporate position on robots is that they aren’t eliminating jobs, they are creating them at Amazon fulfillment centers.

“Transporting thousands of pods per floor with millions of products stowed inside, the robots enable more inventory to pass through a fulfillment center, which means more associates are needed for handling that inventory,” according to Amazon’s website. “Since 2012, Amazon has added tens of thousands of robots to its fulfillment centers, while also adding more than 300,000 full-time jobs globally.”

General manager Carney declined to say how much Amazon has invested in the Wilmington fulfillment center. But that facility and the delivery station next door will be adding to the over 5,000 jobs Amazon already has in Delaware, according to Carney.

The money that Amazon has put into its two Wilmington buildings contributes to the more than $4 billion in investment the company has made to date during the past 10 years in Delaware, contributing $3 billion to the gross domestic product of in state, he said.

Carney described the new Wilmington fulfillment center as "probably one of the most special in the Northeast ... so close to one of our first-generation buildings."

That's because Amazon debuted the first fulfillment center in its network in New Castle, Delaware, in 1997 about 7 miles away from Wilmington.

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Friday, September 17, 2021

Rite Aid Corp. to move HQ to Philadelphia Navy Yard

 Natalie Kostelni Reporter Philadelphia Business Journal

Rite Aid Corp. will relocate its headquarters to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, after having spent decades based in Camp Hill.

The company leased 23,500 square feet at 1200 Intrepid Ave. and will open what it is calling an “enterprise headquarters” as part of an effort to redefine how it envisions its employees working as a result of the pandemic.

Rite Aid is moving to a “remote-first work approach for corporate associates, supported by a network of collaboration centers throughout the company’s geographic footprint,” the company said in a statement. “The reimagined workplace model focuses on flexibility for associates, while also creating an official headquarters space in Philadelphia designed specifically for in-person collaboration and company gatherings, rather than office spaces.”

The company has 2,800 corporate employees and a representative from Rite Aid said the number of people working out of the Philadelphia Navy Yard will fluctuate. The move will take place in the first half of 2022.

"It's a vibrant area and it's an exciting place to be," said Brad Ducey, a company spokesman. "It's central and easy for employees, partners, clients."

Rite Aid is No. 132 on the most recent Fortune 500 list. The company reported revenue last year of $24 billion.

Full story:

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

New $55 Million Multifamily Complex Set To Be Completed by End of 2023

 By Scott Morrill CoStar Research

A joint venture between Method Co. and Cimbra Partners has started construction on a new 142-unit multifamily complex in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia.

The $55 million project is set to include a mix of one- and two-bedroom floor plans with select bi-level duplex units, short-term furnished rental units and 10,450 square feet of ground-level retail space.

Method Co. and Cimbra Partners secured a $30 construction loan for the project from Pacific Western Bank.

The project's amenities are set to include an outdoor pool and lounge, residents’ lounge, game room, private workspaces, fitness center, yoga room and bike room. It will also feature a public art installation in accordance with the city's Percent for Art program.

The project is located along the Schuylkill River at 4300 Ridge Ave. in East Falls, a neighborhood that has a scenic riverfront, burgeoning restaurant scene, regional rail access and walkability.

"The challenge for residential developers in East Falls has never been leasing up projects once they are complete, but rather finding large enough parcels in which to build at scale," said Adrian Ponsen, CoStar's director of market analytics for Philadelphia. "This project has already cleared that hurdle having secured the most visible development site in the neighborhood and will likely further enliven the already up-and-coming retail corridors along Ridge and Midvale Avenues in its backyard."

Method Co. and Cimbra Partners' project is set to be completed by the end of 2023.

Friday, September 3, 2021

The Remarkable Strength of Lehigh Valley's Multifamily Market

By Ben Atwood CoStar Analytics

It is a good time to be an apartment owner in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley.

The market’s year-over-year rent growth sits at a lofty 10.5%, the strongest levels its ever recorded.

Every region within Lehigh is posting above-average gains in the third quarter, with the strongest seen in Central Lehigh County, where year-over-year growth is over 15%.

There are some properties in this area that have been posting jaw-dropping levels of growth. The Allen Gardens, the Bridgeview, the Spring View Apartments and the Woodmont Ridge are all showing year-over-year gains over 20%. In the Tremont Apartments, rents have climbed by more than 40% in the past 12 months.

Suburbs such as Central Lehigh County show the strongest levels of gains, but Lehigh's more-urban areas are also performing well. This is particularly true in downtown Allentown, where year-over-year growth is close to 10%.

That’s impressive for any urban core, but doubly so in Lehigh because these rents aren't being compared to a 2020 rent downturn. That’s something many other cities experienced in 2020, as renters fled to the suburbs.

But downtown Allentown never saw this drop. Its rents kept growing through the coronavirus pandemic and its new arrivals filled within days of opening their doors.

Rapid success in leasing up isn’t limited to just Downtown. Though most recent construction has been in the city, new suburban projects, such as the Dream Lehigh Valley Apartments, also filled within months of opening.

The data shows a near total absence of vacant units across the Lehigh Valley. The market's overall vacancy rate sits at 1.3%, which is also a record, and some of its suburbs are even tighter.

There's very little that's available to immediately rent in institutional assets inside of Northwestern, Southeastern and East Lehigh County. Scour listings on and you will find few units available and even fewer owners offering renters any form of concessions. 

There's also almost nothing underway to disrupt Lehigh's rent-growth, either.

The regions to watch in the coming quarters will be Northwestern Lehigh County and Southeastern Northhampton County. These areas have over 300 units underway, and the rapidity of their lease-up could provide further insight into apartment demand.

Looking at the data now, its hard to believe these projects will struggle at all. Their success could prompt more growth and indeed, Lehigh looks primed for it.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

JV Partners Sell 430K-SF Industrial Asset in Philadelphia Area

 By Ingrid Tunberg

Joint-venture partners, ASB Real Estate Investments and Endurance Real Estate Group LLC have sold a 430,373-square-foot industrial building to global real estate operator, EQT Exeter for $41.9 million.

Located at 450 Winks Ln. in Bucks County, PA, the multi-tenant industrial asset is situated within the Expressway 95 Business Park, directly north of Philadelphia, PA.

The sale was made on behalf of ASB Real Estate Investments’ Meridian Real Estate Fund II.

The joint-venture partners purchased the property in December 2018. The asset was originally constructed in 1973.

“The sale represents an excellent execution of our value creation strategy and benefits from the current high demand from institutional investors for industrial properties, driving down cap rates, increasing valuations, and escalating sale prices,” says Brodie Ruland, managing director and co-head of acquisitions at ASB Real Estate Investments.

“Demand of infill industrial assets continues to be a strong market driver in the surrounding counties of suburban Philly. Our diverse tenant roster made this a very desirable industrial opportunity, which was highly competitive and sought after by many buyers.”

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