Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Ipex USA Leases 251,200SF Warehouse in Middletown, PA

 By Caleb Hayes CoStar Research

Endurance Real Estate Group signed a full-building lease with plastic pipe extruder Ipex USA to fill its newly constructed Middletown Logistics Center in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

Located at 2070 N. Union St., the 251,200-square-foot bulk warehouse/distribution facility features 36’ clear heights, LED lighting and ESFR sprinkler systems, 21 door positions equipped with 40,000-lbs. mechanical levelers, bumpers and seals, one 14’-by-16’ drive-in door, 33 trailer stalls and 192 car parking spaces.

The property's location off the Middletown exit of S.R. 283 offers access to the Greater Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Baltimore-Washington areas via I-83 and I-76, putting more than one third of the total U.S. population within a day's drive. The location's appeal to distributors is evident by the fact that four different FedEx warehouses and a new UPS Northeast Regional Super Hub are located nearby.

Based in Pineville, North Carolina, Ipex USA is the North American subsidiary of Belgium's Aliaxis SA, and specializes in extruding plastic piping for the building, industrial, agriculture and infrastructure markets.

"Our decision to develop this project on a speculative basis proved to be the catalyst in leasing the building simultaneously with its delivery to the market," said Endurance Senior Vice President Albert J. Corr in a statement. "Given Ipex’s new space requirement to the region and their desire to secure a state-of-the-art distribution facility, these factors proved to be the perfect combination to fulfill Ipex’s entry into the Central Pennsylvania market."


Saturday, September 10, 2022

Back to the Office: Employers Push for a Post-Labor Day Return

 By Katie Burke CoStar News

Employers have become increasingly adamant in their efforts to get workers to return to the office, with the week after Labor Day emerging as a turning point to reset workplace norms that for more than two years have been upended by the pandemic.

Companies ranging from small mom-and-pops to global financial giants are setting the calendar for an early September comeback that, if successful, would finally realize more than two years of efforts to get employees back working in office real estate.

Apple, Tesla, Disney and Goldman Sachs have each said they expect employees to work from an office on a more regular basis starting after the holiday weekend, a shift expected to kick off the next stage of the pandemic's impact on the country's economic landscape.

While the goal of getting workers back to some level of in-person interaction is the same, strategies in realizing it are varied. Some companies are doing away with vaccination requirements and enforcing strict return guidelines, while others are trying to lure employees back with perks such as gourmet catered lunches or renovated offices complete with game rooms, rooftop decks and coffee bars.

"The built environment has to be a place folks want to go," Rob Olivet, a senior vice president for global project management firm MGAC, told CoStar News. "Historically, office space was centered around how much square footage each person needed and economizing costs, but the pandemic has made it so that it isn't just about the dollars and cents. The COVID and hybrid workforce has prompted more attention to certain amenities, and those high-end amenities are definitely helpful in getting people back to the office."

The Labor Day 2022 return effort caps a series of delays companies made in their initial office reopening plans, with concerns stemming from a variety of COVID-19 variants, case spikes, local restrictions and mandates, as well as employee worries that kept a big chunk of America's office portfolios unoccupied at least on some days of the week since the onset of the health crisis in early 2020. However, with each postponement, workers' preference for remote or flexible work has strengthened, adding another complicated layer to employers' attempts to return to in-person operations.

Employee Retention Aid

While remote and hybrid work models were initially deployed in response to the pandemic, they have since become a significant benefit for companies looking to keep employees happy and for workers that value the flexibility, said Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University professor of economics and a co-founder of WFH Research.

More than 90 million workers across the country, just shy of 60% of the American workforce, had the chance to work from home at least once a week in 2022, according to a report from global management consultant McKinsey & Co. Roughly 35% of the nation's workforce was able to work from home five days a week. That's a roughly sixfold increase compared to pre-pandemic days in 2019, when a little more than 5% of workers were able to operate primarily from home, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

"The long-run trend of work from home is upwards, as it has been over the last 50 years," Bloom said, adding that work-from-home opportunities are now stabilizing as they become a permanent fixture in the U.S. economy.

As remote work became more common in the workplace, many employers were initially hesitant about if and how often workers would be allowed to remain at home.

"In late 2020 there was a big gap between how many work-from-home days workers wanted and how many employers were planning," Bloom said. "That gap has mostly gone."

Companies walk a fine line between mandating employee returns and the accelerating push for more flexibility, a trend that has been fueled by a tightened labor market and dire worker shortage. Yet, as part of the debate for when and how to get employees to return to the office, the big question emerging now is what strategy will end up sticking.

Here's a sampling of how some companies across the United States are asking workers to spend more time in the office:


Headquarters: Cupertino, California

Number of employees: More than 37,000 in the U.S.

Return-to-office schedule: The Silicon Valley tech giant told employees to prepare to return to the office for three days a week following the long Labor Day weekend. Workers will be required to head to an office on Tuesdays and Thursdays for mandatory in-person days, with a third day to be determined by individual departments. CEO Tim Cook said in June that the company's return-to-office initiative was "the mother of all experiments." The iPhone maker has received severe blowback from some employees, who argue the blanket return mandate doesn't take into account individual workers' situations.

Credit Karma

Headquarters: Oakland, California

Number of employees: About 1,300 across the country

Return-to-office schedule: The Bay Area fintech firm has been trying for the better part of the past year to get employees into its offices. The company, which relocated its headquarters to Oakland from San Francisco in 2021, recently told workers they would need to be in an office at least a few days a week on a schedule to be determined by individual teams. To make the space more attractive, Credit Karma stocked its new Oakland headquarters with perks such as a game room, coffee bar, rooftop lounge and events such as kombucha by the fire pit.

Goldman Sachs

Headquarters: New York

Number of employees: Nearly 44,000 around the world

Return-to-office schedule: The investment bank is a leader in a cohort of Wall Street powerhouses pushing employees to return to the office on a pre-pandemic schedule. While it has been competing in an increasingly tight labor market, emerging macroeconomic concerns and a volatile stock market bolstered Goldman's efforts to set a post-Labor Day return mandate. The company said Aug. 30th it would lift all COVID-related protocols such as vaccination requirements and masking, and employees would be required to return to an office on a full-time basis after the holiday weekend.


Headquarters: Philadelphia

Number of employees: Roughly 190,000 around the world

Return-to-office schedule: The cable, news and entertainment conglomerate will begin requiring a firm three-day workweek for employees across the country, with workers expected to come into an office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays starting Sept. 12. The schedule is a shift from an earlier policy that asked employees to be in an office for a few days each week but didn't specify when. "A big part of our culture is working together," Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson wrote in a memo to employees last month. "It is clear that in-person interaction and collaboration is core to our company and culture. To optimize the experience while supporting the business, we’ve concluded that we need more certainty and direction to coordinate our in-office time better.”


Thursday, September 1, 2022

A recession could be great for the Philadelphia office market

 Natalie Kostelni Reporter Philadelphia Business Journal

Would a recession be just the thing the office market, landlords and central business districts need to get things back to — or at least close to — pre-pandemic levels of occupancy?

“If a recession were to occur, that balance between employee and employer could result in employers asking employees to come back into the office, and that would be great for the office market,” said Todd Briddell, CEO of CenterSquare Investment Management, which is based in Plymouth Meeting. “A recession could be a net positive for the office market, which is a little perverse.”

Briddell isn’t the only one who thinks this. Others have quietly murmured that a recession might be the way companies can flex their muscle and force employees to return to the office on a more regular basis. That said, Briddell acknowledged the labor market has proven it can maintain high levels of productivity while many employees have worked from home or maintained hybrid, flexible arrangements. Employers getting workers back to the office full-time or most of the time will need some coaxing.

“We need to earn the commute times,” he said. “I think Philadelphia needs substantial investment in infrastructure, especially in roads, to alleviate congestion and long commute times.”

Aside from the potential impact of a recession, Briddell shared his thoughts on how the firm’s focus on investing in infrastructure worked out, what investments CenterSquare is looking at these days, and where the firm is headed:

Full story: https://tinyurl.com/2mccae7u