Tuesday, August 29, 2023

We're in 'the early innings' of a commercial real estate downturn (Video)


How Empty Offices Become Apartments In The U.S. (Video)


Portman Holdings plans $330M industrial project at Exton's Happy Days Farm

 By Paul Schwedelson – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal

Atlanta developer Portman Holdings bought 169 acres in Exton at the site of Happy Days Farm and is planning to build a massive 1.9 million-square-foot industrial complex.

The site, at 1130 Pottstown Pike, sits between Route 100 and I-476. The purchase price of the land and the expected cost of the planned development is a combined $330 million.

Portman plans to build three warehouse distribution buildings in two phases. Site work on the first phase is already underway. Construction of Phase 1 is set to begin in the fall and will include a 636,120-square-foot building. An estimated completion date is summer 2024, or about 10 months later.

The second phase, planned to begin six months after construction begins on the first phase, calls for a 1.1 million-square-foot building and a 154,440-square-foot building. Portman estimates the full campus will be completed in the first quarter of 2025. Portman is calling the development the I-76 Trade Center.

The buildings are being built speculatively without tenants lined up.

Portman Industrial Managing Director John Gaskin declined to say how much the company paid to acquire the land. Chester County property records show Portman Holdings bought at least four parcels making up 154 acres of the site for $103.5 million.

“We do a lot of focus and work on understanding demographics and where the end users want to be in terms of the supply chain,” Gaskin said. “E-commerce continues to grow. ... There simply is a lack of modern industrial space for the purposes of moving consumer goods or storing things in the area.”

Full story: https://shorturl.at/klnNW


Friday, August 25, 2023

How the Retail Landscape is Evolving (Video)


Harleysville industrial warehouse sells to Boston firm for $14.8M

 By Paul Schwedelson – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal

Stag Industrial, a Boston-based investment trust, bought a 152,625-square-foot industrial building in Harleysville for $14.8 million, according to property records.

The property at 1510 Gehman Road is just east of I-476 and south of Detwiler Road. It was previously owned by Platinum Owner PA LLC, which bought the building for $15 million in December 2020. Less than three years later, the value dropped by $173,000.

Stag (NYSE: STAG) owns about two dozen assets in the Philadelphia market totaling 5.5 million square feet of warehouse distribution and manufacturing space. As of March, the company owned 561 properties totaling 111.6 million square feet and that are collectively worth around $6 billion.

Deacon Industrial Supply Co., which distributes pipes, valves and related equipment, is a tenant at 1510 Gehman Road.

The building, which was built in 1990, has changed ownership several times since 2012. That’s when Cam 1510 Gehman Road LLC bought the property for $5.6 million. Four years later, it sold to LHV Portfolio Investors LLC for $9.5 million. Then in 2020, Platinum Owner PA LLC bought the property for $15 million. With each sale, the building’s value increased by millions of dollars over just a few years until the most recent transaction.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for space at industrial properties rose rapidly and rents spiked as vacancy reached record lows. That was around when the previous owner bought the industrial building. Online shopping grew rapidly and companies searched for ways to combat supply chain challenges.

This year, the market has started to cool off as a normalization process has played out with demand slowing down and vacancy rates ticking back up to pre-pandemic levels.

Stag Industrial did not respond to requests for comment.

Full story: https://tinyurl.com/yxy6pxr4


Thursday, August 24, 2023

As Retail Rents Flourish in Philadelphia’s Suburbs, Center City Stalls


By Brenda Nguyen Costar

As Philadelphia's premier suburban retail districts continue to see strong interest from retailers and corresponding rent growth, retail locations in Center City's downtown districts have seen average rents decline in the past year.

The Market West, Market East and Independence Hall retail districts—all located in Center City—have decreased between -1.5% and -0.9%, falling behind the region’s average 1.9% annual rent growth performance for retail space. The trio of downtown districts were the only areas in the region to see retail rents turn negative across the region’s top retail districts, those with the highest average market rents.

Long touted for its ability to charge premium downtown rents, Center City encompasses such popular retail destinations as Rittenhouse, Midtown Village and Washington Square West. These retail enclaves often command rents exceeding $100 per square foot. Despite an impressive retail recovery, marked by the opening or re-opening of nearly 200 new retailers and restaurants since 2020, Center City’s storefronts have faced heightened competition from emerging neighboring districts such as Northern Liberties and Fishtown, as well as the suburbs.

Flexible work arrangements have prompted a shift in weekday consumer demand, spurring the growth of neighborhood retail in recent years. Even with nearly fully recovered visitor foot traffic and retail sales volumes, according to Center City District, rents for downtown retail locations have softened due to the still-large number of storefronts available for lease. As of the third quarter, 225 buildings had 345 spaces listed for lease across Center City's three retail districts.

In contrast, the adjacent University City neighborhood experienced positive retail rent growth of 1.6% over the past year. While both Center City and University City boast stable demand from large numbers of students and hospital workers, University City's limited retail inventory has maintained an impressively low 1.1% vacancy—among the lowest in the Philadelphia region. Fewer than 40 properties have retail space available for lease.

In the suburbs, a growing population and flexible work arrangements have propelled a retail resurgence across numerous districts. This demographic shift has translated into heightened purchasing power, driving more demand for retail services in suburban markets. As a result, the retail landscape has expanded beyond the city limits and resulted in increasing retail rents. Average retail rent growth across Philadelphia's top suburban retail districts has ranged between 1.4% and 2.9%, exceeding the average for the entire region.

As a highly sought-after suburban location, the Main Line continues to surpass other Philadelphia-area retail districts, with an annual average rent growth of 2.9%. Even establishments that have long graced Philadelphia's downtown, such as Di Bruno Brothers and Boyds, have expanded to the Main Line to better serve their suburban customers in recent years. Growing retail interest in the area has compressed the Main Line's retail vacancy rate to 2.2%, supporting continued rent growth.


CoStar Group CEO on commercial REIT weakness, office vacancy and residential market (Video)


Commercial real estate's office building sector is tanking (Video)


Commercial real estate should not be a deciding factor in return-to-office (Video)


Monday, August 21, 2023

What is the Impact of Rising Consumer Debt on CRE (Video)


Developer lands $114M construction loan for Bucks County industrial project

 By Paul Schwedelson – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal

A Boston developer took a major step with its planned 814,567-square-foot industrial complex in Bucks County by securing a $114 million construction loan from Mesa West Capital.

Foxfield's Lower Bucks Logistics Hub is planned to have two distribution buildings, one on each side of Route 213 in Middletown Township along I-295 and near Route 1. The addresses of the two buildings will be 1600 E. Old Lincoln Highway and 1620 E. Old Lincoln Highway in Langhorne.

The two buildings will be constructed on 79.5 acres of land Foxfield purchased for $50 million in 2022 from BET Investments, a real estate company owned by Bruce E. Toll. The property was underutilized land of the Reedman Toll Auto World.

The northern building is planned to have 361,457 square feet with rear loading. The southern building calls for 453,110 square feet with cross-dock loading, meaning it can load trailers from two different sides of the building. The complex is planned to have six total drive-in doors, 40-foot clear heights and more than 800 car and trailer parking spaces.

Foxfield expects the buildings to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2024, according to marketing material for the project. They’re being built speculatively without tenants lined up.

The site is about 35 minutes from Center City Philadelphia and 90 minutes to Manhattan.

Securing the financing comes as the Philadelphia-area industrial market is normalizing after vacancy rates hit record lows and rents climbed during the pandemic. For example, the vacancy rate for industrial buildings in the Philadelphia region increased to 5.5% in the second quarter, according to CoStar, up from a five-year average of 4.9%. Though decelerating from a peak around 15% in mid-2022, rents are still growing at 11%, which is significantly higher than retail, multifamily and office property types.

Foxfield's industrial holdings in the region include 466,180-square-foot industrial complex at 1001 Industrial Highway in Eddystone.

Full story:  https://tinyurl.com/4dsbsfbm


MRA Group secures $63M in loans to advance redevelopment of former DuPont campus in Wilmington

 By Paul Schwedelson – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal

MRA Group has secured $63 million in financing for the next portion of the Chestnut Run Innovation and Science Park, a $1 billion redevelopment of a 164-acre former DuPont campus in Wilmington.

The funding is primarily for construction of a 102,000-square-foot building for specialty chemicals manufacturer Solenis, MRA Group Executive Vice President Phil Butler told the Business Journal. Work has been underway for months and the building is expected to open in 2024. A portion of the funding will also be used to renovate existing buildings on the campus for lab, research and development, and advanced manufacturing space.

Fulton Bank, along with Nuveen Green Capital through C-PACE, provided $50 million of the financing and the other $13 million was secured through WSFS Bank. C-PACE financing offers borrowers favorable terms as long as the developments include certain sustainability measures and energy efficiency. Butler said MRA Group already planned to include sustainable features in the redevelopments regardless of the financing mechanism and didn’t need to make any design changes in order to qualify. 

“We’re very happy and proud that the financial markets continued to respond to the vision that we’ve casted, us as a sponsor and the project as a whole,” Butler said. “Even in these financial times that we’re in, we’re still able to really lean on our partners in Fulton and WSFS and now Nuveen.”

This is the first time MRA Group has secured C-PACE financing and the company plans to use the mechanism more in the future, according to Butler.

MRA Group, based in Horsham, bought the former DuPont campus for $40 million in 2021 with 14 existing buildings spanning 780,000 square feet. The company initially planned a redevelopment totaling 900,000 square feet at a cost $500 million, but later expanded the project to 1.4 million square feet. The larger scope, along with rising construction costs, increased the price tag to about $1 billion.

The change was due to the rising demand for life sciences space, MRA Group CEO Larry Stuardi said in March.

MRA Group is also close to completing redevelopment work on one of the existing buildings for biopharmaceutical company Prelude Therapeutics. Occupancy is expected later this year.

Full story: https://tinyurl.com/atp849yp


Friday, August 18, 2023

Center City District Relocating Offices to the Land Title Building

By Samuel Murch Costar

Center City District, an organization that operates the Center City business improvement district dedicated to enhancing the cleanliness, quality of life, and economic prosperity of downtown Philadelphia, will be relocating its office to ASI Management's Land Title Building at 100 S Broad St., where it leased 26,173 square feet.

The business improvement district operator will occupy space on the first floor and mezzanine levels of the historic 22-story office tower originally built in 1898 as one of the first high-rise office towers in Philadelphia and features much of its original turn-of-the-century elegance. The building is centrally located in Center City, one block from City Hall at the center of Philadelphia's downtown business district.

The organization's offices are currently located in the Public Ledger Building at 660 Chestnut St. The programs of the Center City District and the Central Philadelphia Development Corp. are supported by the Center City District Foundation, a charitable, 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Center City District and the Central Philadelphia Development Corp. are governed by separate boards of directors but share a common staff and offices.


Forces Shaping Office Investments (Video)


EQT Exeter Completes Work on Carneys Point NJ Industrial Building

By Natalie Silady CoStar Research

EQT Exeter, one of the largest real estate investment managers in the world, wrapped up construction on its latest industrial development near Carneys Point, New Jersey.

The new Class A industrial facility at 25 N Golfwood Ave. in Salem County measures 371,000 square feet with 3,525 square feet of dedicated office space. The property is located near the intersection of Golfwood Ave. and Harding Highway/Route 48 less than five minutes from the center of Carneys Point Township near the New Jersey-Delaware border, and offers access to I-295 while also being less than a 15-minute drive from the Port of Wilmington.

The entire building is available for lease with leasing being handled in-house by Tilghman Rouse of EQT Exeter. EQT Exeter is among the largest real estate investment managers in the world with 40 offices across North and South America, Europe, and Asia. The company focuses on acquiring and developing logistics and industrial properties, office and life science properties, and multifamily. 

The global investment manager recently announced an initial public offering for a new real estate investment trust it is launching called EQT Exeter Real Estate Income Trust. According to its filing this month, the Radnor, Pennsylvania-based firm's new REIT intends to invest primarily in stabilized, income-oriented U.S. commercial real estate. Its primary targets are supply chain industrial properties and offices leased to research and development tenants in such industries as healthcare, biotech and pharmaceuticals.

EQT Exeter recently held the final close of its EQT Exeter Industrial Value Fund VI with $4.9 billion in capital raised — making it the third-largest U.S.-focused fund to close this year and exceeding its target of $4 billion. Only global private equity giants Blackstone Group and Brookfield Asset Management have held larger U.S.-focused final fund closings this year, according to CoStar data.


Monday, August 14, 2023

Philadelphia's Industrial Rent Performance Outlasts Other Property Types


Average Rent Growth for Region’s Industrial Sector Remains Elevated Even As CoStar Forecasts Performance To Normalize Amid Market Rebalance

By Brenda Nguyen

Rent growth across Philadelphia's commercial properties has exhibited a roller-coaster-like trajectory since the onset of the pandemic, which saw numerous new rent records in recent years. While the region's overall rent performance has since normalized toward pre-pandemic levels in recent quarters, the industrial sector in Philadelphia stands out as an exception with its annual rent gains remaining stubbornly elevated.

Industrial rent growth in Philadelphia has been impressive, exceeding the rates of increase for the multifamily, retail and office sectors, even in the years before the pandemic. Industrial properties averaged an annual growth rate of 5% between 2015 and 2019, well above the growth rates for multifamily at 2.6%, retail at 2% and office at 3.3% annual average increases.

It is important to keep in mind that these rent growth figures represent aggregate market-level numbers, and there are nuanced dynamics at play. The ongoing flight to quality trend, evident across nearly all property types, continues to drive stronger rent growth for modern and high-quality properties. In contrast, obsolete properties will likely see much slower rent growth or even declines

Additionally, the heightened pace of construction in the industrial and multifamily sectors has played a major role in slowing average rent growth in certain development hotspots. Both sectors have witnessed record levels of construction activity, further blunting rent growth as more supply enters the market.

While still elevated, the moderation in the rent growth for industrial property from a peak of 13% in mid-2020 to the current quarter's 10.4% annual rate growth indicates that this property asset is gradually returning to its pre-pandemic five-year average of 5%. Nevertheless, CoStar forecasts that industrial rents will continue to outpace growth rates for the other three property types in the foreseeable future.

The industrial sector's eye-catching trajectory began as early as 2016 when the sector broke away from the rent trends observed in other property types, yielding higher returns for investors. This growth was fueled by several coinciding factors, including increased demand for e-commerce and same-day deliveries and the region's strategic location that facilitates the efficient distribution of goods to the country's densest populations.

Despite a slowdown in demand in recent years, Philadelphia's industrial long-term prospects remain strong as the region continues to attract local, national and international retailers, third-party logistics providers, and manufacturers.

As the market evolves, investors and stakeholders should closely monitor these supply-demand trends and the underlying drivers that shape Philadelphia's industrial real estate sector. With its promising performance and potential for continued growth, the industrial sector remains an area of interest and opportunity for renters and investors seeking resilient and attractive returns in the region's real estate market.


Inflation, Sentiment, and the Impact on CRE (Video)


Thursday, August 10, 2023

Handful of Central Pennsylvania Areas Boast Nation’s Lowest Industrial Vacancy

Industrial Hub Along I-81 Corridor Has the Lowest Industrial Vacancy Rate in the US

By Brenda Nguyen Costar

An area west of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, situated along the I-81 corridor, leads the nation with the lowest industrial vacancy rate among the 75 industrial locales with over 50 million square feet of industrial inventory tracked by CoStar. The area's remarkable tenant demand and leasing performance have compressed the amount of available space to a historic low of 1.1% as the region has established itself as a highly in-demand site for logistics companies and retailers in the Mid-Atlantic.

This section of central Pennsylvania has emerged as a strategic stronghold for companies seeking efficient distribution and access points to major markets across the Northeast and beyond. Intersected by major highways such as Interstate 81, Interstate 83 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the region boasts seamless connectivity to heavily populated metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia, New York City, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

The industrial area, designated as Harrisburg Area West in submarket delineation, is not the only Pennsylvania location to post ultra-low vacancy. Two nearby industrial hubs, Bucks County and Lancaster County also rank among U.S. areas with the lowest vacancy rates, boasting rates of 1.7% and 1.8%, respectively.

While many large industrial markets have experienced an uptick in vacancy due to increased supply from new project completions and a decrease in the number of large lease signings, Harrisburg Area West has run against the grain. Despite heavy demand, only 3 million square feet of new industrial space has been added over the past three years, expanding the existing inventory by less than 4%. Subsequently, its vacancy rate compressed by 0.4% over the past year, leaving nearly no room left to compress further.

Average rents have surged by 9.4% in response to the rise in demand, further indicating a supply-constrained, landlord's market. With no significant industrial projects underway, tenants seeking available space in this area may need to consider other options in nearby areas as demand overtakes supply.

Harrisburg Area West still has a few gems left in its real estate inventory. The most prominent available space on the market is EQT Exeter's 40 Dauphin Drive, a 600,000-square-foot Class A distribution space in Mechanicsburg. A mere three other Class A spaces ranging from 37,000 to 140,000 square feet are currently available, while the remaining 37 available blocks of space consist largely of Class B and C properties. Despite the limitations in available space, seven projects totaling 1.25 million square feet have been proposed, suggesting some temporary relief may be on the horizon.

That said, Harrisburg Area West is poised to remain a highly competitive industrial market for the foreseeable future, thanks to its constrained vacancy, muted construction activity and steady demand.


The Worst is Coming For Multifamily Investors (Video)


Wednesday, August 9, 2023

There will be a lot of office spaces converted into residential living (Video)


Average Size of US Office Leases Reflect the Current 'Move-and-Shrink' Trend

By Phil Mobley CoStar Analytics

In nearly every major market in the country, office tenants are executing leases that are smaller than what they presently occupy. This trend is particularly pronounced in West Coast markets with high exposure to tech-sector workers.

New leasing volume remained well below its five-year pre-pandemic quarterly average in the second quarter of 2023, driven by a shrinking average lease size. While the total number of office leases signed during the quarter was not far below that observed between 2015 and 2019, the average amount of space leased was nearly 20% smaller.

Smaller office leases have become more common in nearly every major U.S. office market, with average deal size down at least 10% everywhere except Houston and Orange County in California. Some locations have seen their average office lease size contract by much more. The Northern California markets of San Francisco, Oakland-East Bay and San Jose-South Bay all recorded average lease sizes more than 45% below historic norms, with Seattle close behind.

Similarly, second-quarter office leases were an average of 37% smaller in Boston and 32% smaller in Austin. These two markets also have high concentrations of tech workers, but until recently, their office sectors had been buoyed by other industries. In Boston’s case, demand for lab space was red hot until the middle of 2022. Austin, meanwhile, benefited from corporate expansions and relocations to business-friendly Texas. Now that leasing demand from both sources has pulled back, leasing trends in these markets is beginning to resemble that observed in other tech-oriented locales.

On the other end of the spectrum, office leasing volume exceeded pre-pandemic norms by a substantial margin in Houston and Miami, which continue to attract out-of-market tenants. Even in these cases, though, the average deal size was slightly lower than it was in the late 2010s. This bears watching closely, especially if economic uncertainty shuts off the corporate relocation spigot in coming months.

Multiple factors appear to be driving this phenomenon. One is that smaller office occupiers have become more active lately as they look to take advantage of market conditions and upgrade their office space by moving to higher-quality locations when their existing leases expire.

Another is the aforementioned 'move-and-shrink' behavior of larger office occupiers. These organizations are also choosing to relocate rather than renew and taking advantage of the opportunity to upgrade in many cases. However, as they move, many are taking less space than they previously occupied. The result has been widespread negative net absorption, or the net change in occupancy and vacancy, which is what the office market has continued to experience so far in 2023.


Peachtree CEO talks commercial real estate turning to private credit as banks pullback lending (Video)


Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Mounting Sublet Inventory Intensifies Philadelphia’s Office Woes

By Brenda Nguyen Costar

Office sublease availability has increased to 8.1 million square feet across the Philadelphia metropolitan area and now accounts for 3% of the 49.2 million square feet of available office inventory. As of the third quarter, 280 office properties in the Philadelphia region have available sublet spaces.

While sublet availability still comprises a small fraction of the total available office inventory, the fivefold increase in office sublet space since the pandemic is worrisome. In 2019, sublet space accounted for only 0.6% of the available office space in Philadelphia.

The City of Philadelphia accounts for 35% of total sublet availability at 2.8 million square feet. Of this, Center City is responsible for 74% of the city’s total sublet availability. If University City and the Navy Yard are included, they collectively comprise 88% of the city’s sublet availability.

The Philadelphia suburbs have 5.2 million square feet of sublet office space on the market, nearly double that of the total in the city of Philadelphia. While the suburbs encompass a significantly larger geography, sublet spaces are notably concentrated in just a few locales. Namely, Horsham ranks as having the most sublet space with 515,000 square feet, followed by King of Prussia with 455,000 square feet and Blue Bell with 365,000 square feet.

The largest sublet space on the market is State Farm’s former regional headquarters in Concordville. The 340,000-square-foot building, constructed in 1980, has lingered on the market for nearly two and half years after State Farm adopted a flexible work policy. This building is a standard example of dated, suburban properties that are struggling to backfill their spaces in a post-pandemic era.

Despite some companies choosing to transition into remote work in the middle of their lease, sublet availability still makes up a comparatively small fraction of the overall office vacancy in the Philadelphia market. Nevertheless, mounting overall office vacancy stemming from tenants opting to downsize when their leases expire continues to add pressure on the already-dislocated office market.


We will soon see an uptick in repurposing commercial real estate (Video)


Monday, August 7, 2023

CRE Transaction Activity Trends (Video)


First American Economist Outlook (Video)


Retails need to rethink strategy in face of hybrid work schedules & online shopping (Video)


Amazon Resumes Leasing Spree Along Pennsylvania’s I-81 Corridor

By Adrian Ponsen and Brenda Nguyen CoStar Analytics

Since Amazon’s first quarter 2022 earnings call when the company first disclosed it planned to address excess capacity in its distribution network, the e-commerce giant has slowed openings of new fulfillment centers and put more than 7 million square feet of industrial space up for sublease across the U.S.

According to its last annual report, during 2022, Amazon’s leased North American fulfillment and data centers grew at the slowest pace in at least seven years.

Pennsylvania’s I-81 corridor stands out as the region where Amazon is continuing to expand its distribution center network, despite taking a more defensive posture towards its North American real estate footprint overall.

Over the past 12 months, Amazon has signed three large industrial leases along Interstate 81 in Pennsylvania totaling 2.9 million square feet. The two largest deals, Amazon’s 1.3 million-square-foot lease at the recently completed Rausch Creek Logistics Center in Tremont, and its 1.1 million-square-foot lease at United Business Park in Shippensburg, have already made 2023 theI-81 Corridor’s busiest year on record for total square feet leased by Amazon.

The e-commerce giant is not just adding new I-81 distribution centers to its network, but it also appears to be fully utilizing the I-81 properties it already occupies.

Over the past 14 months, the company has been implementing cost-cutting measures, leading to the listing of more than 70 Amazon-leased industrial spaces across the U.S., totaling 11 million square feet. Most of these spaces are in older and smaller, distribution properties that are less cost effective for Amazon to operate and are being listed for sublease. But a significant share of the properties being put up for sublease are where the company has leases approaching expiration and has not yet renewed.

Major U.S industrial markets such as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia have each had at least four Amazon-leased spaces be put on the market as available since mid-2022. In stark contrast, while Amazon already occupies at least 8 million square feet across 13 different Pennsylvania industrial properties within 30 miles of I-81, none of these spaces have come available for lease.

Amazon’s persistent growth along I-81 likely ties back to the corridor’s ideal location for serving the I-95 population corridor stretching from Washington D.C. through Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York, arguably the largest cluster of purchasing power in the Western Hemisphere.

Key Pennsylvania markets along I-81 where Amazon has been leasing in recent years, such as Pottsville, Scranton and Harrisburg, each have between 30 and 40 million U.S. residents within a four-hour truck drive on a typical weekday morning. This is almost double the number of residents within a four-hour truck drive of other major population centers such as Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas.

For example, from its regional distribution center in Tremont, Pennsylvania, where Amazon signed its largest U.S. lease so far in 2023, delivery trucks can reach last-mile delivery stations near either New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington within just a four-hour drive.


Market sentiment around commercial real estate is worse than the reality (Video)


Thursday, August 3, 2023

Apartment Spring Leasing Season Sees Sign of Life in Philadelphia After Yearlong Slump


By Brenda Nguyen Costar

Following a dry spell throughout 2022, Philadelphia’s spring leasing season for apartments saw a moderate uptick in momentum, bringing some relief to developers and property managers. The spring leasing season generally sees the highest renter demand and often serves as a proxy for the remainder of the year. Based on this past spring's performance, demand is anticipated to pick up from 2022's slump, but remain below the five-year norm.

Despite the positive sign, leasing performance still fell short of the three-year, pre-pandemic norm. During the second quarter of the year, the Philadelphia metropolitan area recorded 2,112 rented units. This marked a significant increase from the mere 494 rented units during the same period last year.

Nevertheless, absorption, defined as the net change in the number of units occupied than vacated, still hovered below the second-quarter average of 2,600 units between 2017 and 2019. While 2021 was an anomaly, last quarter clocked in at only 48% of the 4,460-unit absorption peak achieved in the spring of 2021. The numbers may seem drastic, but the market is rebalancing to its long-term performance from an unprecedented market moment.

Despite a regional slowdown, several urban districts have continued to shine. Notably, the rapidly growing Art Museum-Northern Liberties and North Philadelphia sections of greater Philadelphia saw the highest absorption performance in the past 12 months, with 1,130 units and 1,120 units absorbed, respectively. These areas accounted for an impressive 65% of total absorption in the Philadelphia region. Despite their impressive performance, those areas still faced immense supply pressures, resulting in elevated vacancy rates in recent quarters.

In the suburbs, Burlington County, Conshohocken and Upper Montgomery County saw the highest absorption levels, ranging between 310 units and 360 units each over the past 12 months.

On the other hand, Upper Delaware County, Cherry Hill-Haddonfield and Lower Camden County experienced the lowest leasing activity in the region, with each area having negative absorption of at least 270 units.


Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Top Property Sales Recognized for Philadelphia

As big-ticket items involving sizable investments, commercial property transactions often have a wider impact within the local community. 

Here are the Philadelphia property sales selected as the second-quarter 2023 winners of the CoStar Power Broker Quarterly Deal Awards:

TOP SALE: Port Logistics Center at Logan, 2961 US-322, Logan Township, NJ - Part of Portfolio

2961 US-322, Logan Township, NJ (CoStar)

Sale Price: Not disclosed*

Sale Date: June 29, 2023

Size: 1,774,748 SF

Buyer: Prologis, San Francisco, CA

Seller: Blackstone, New York, NY

Deal Commentary: California-based Prologis, the biggest owner of industrial property in the world, acquired a 72-building, 13.8 million-square-foot portfolio of industrial properties from opportunistic real estate funds affiliated with Blackstone for $3.1 billion in the second quarter's top deal. In addition to the property in Logan Township, New Jersey, the acquisition expanded its holdings in key distribution markets, including Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington DC, Southern California, Central Valley, SF Bay Area, Dallas, Las Vegas, New York/New Jersey, Phoenix and South Florida. Prologis and Blackstone have completed more than a dozen transactions together in the past decade.

*Part of a portfolio sale

TOP SALE: Twinbridge Industrial Parl, a Portfolio of 36 Properties

15 Twinbridge Drive, Pennsauken, NJ (CoStar)

Sale Price: $194,500,000

Sale Date: June 28, 2023

Size: 1,326,785 SF

Buyer: DRA Advisors, New York, NY

Seller: Walton Street Capital, Chicago, IL, and Wharton Equity Partners, New York, NY

Deal Commentary: A joint venture between Walton Street Capital and Wharton Equity Partners sold a 1.3 million-square-foot portfolio in New Jersey just outside of Philadelphia for $194.5 million to DRA Advisors. The sale of the Twinbridge Industrial Park, which has 37 properties in Pennsauken sold with PGIM Real Estate providing $103 million in fixed-rate financing to DRA Advisors. Wharton and Walton acquired Twinbridge, in July 2020 for $83.25 million from The Bloom Organization and since then added to the original 32-building park with several additional purchases. In the years since, they executed their value-add investment strategy by increasing rental rates, making property improvements, and filling nearly all of the 37 total buildings. A mix of high-profile tenants are included in the portfolio such as Lockheed Martin, Sprint, PepsiCo's SodaStream, and BlueTriton.

TOP SALE: The Heights at Glen Mills, 1000 Ellis Drive, Glen Mills, PA

1000 Ellis Drive, Glen Mills, PA (CoStar)

Sale Price: $74,000,000

Sale Date: April 24, 2023

Size: 222,413 SF

Buyer: Waterton and Waterton, Chicago, IL

Seller: Pantzer Properties, New York, NY

Deal Commentary: A Chicago multifamily investor made its foray into a Northeast market in a top second-quarter deal. Waterton closed on its purchase of The Point at Glen Mills located about 30 miles west of Philadelphia, marking its first acquisition in the area. Waterton paid $74 million for the 230-unit complex. Seller Pantzer Properties of New York paid $56.25 million for eight-year-old property in 2018. Located in the Philadelphia suburb of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, it also is close to employment centers in both downtown Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware.

TOP SALE: Covington 380 Logistics Center, 180 First Ave., Gouldsboro, PA

180 First Ave., Gouldsboro, PA (CoStar)

Sale Price: $60,000,000

Sale Date: June 1, 2023

Size: 501,600 SF

Buyer: Hines, Houston, TX

Seller: Portman Holdings, Atlanta, GA, and Rockpoint, Boston, MA

Deal Commentary: The distribution building, Covington 380 Logistics Center, has traded hands in a second-quarter deal after signing a full-building tenant in the first quarter. Totaling over 500,000 square feet, the property was delivered in 2022 and was sold by a joint venture consisting of developer Portman Holdings and private equity company Rockpoint. In February, All-Ways Forwarding leased the entire facility

TOP SALE: Core5 at Codorus Creek Building 1, 405 Busser Road, York, PA

405 Busser Road, York, PA (CoStar)

Sale Price: $54,400,000

Sale Date: June 1, 2023

Size: 483,748 SF

Buyer: Cabot Properties, Boston, MA

Seller: Core5 Industrial Partners, Atlanta, GA

Deal Commentary: Cushman & Wakefield arranged the sale of a 483,770-square-foot industrial property located at 405 Busser Road in a top second-quarter transaction. Cabot Properties acquired the newly-built property that is fully leased to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, a subsidiary of Colgate-Palmolive.

TOP SALE: 9130 Griffith Morgan Lane, Pennsauken, NJ

9130 Griffith Morgan Lane, Pennsauken, NJ (CoStar)

Sale Price: $30,122,696

Sale Date: April 11, 2023

Size: 189,498 SF

Buyer: Puratos Group, Dilbeek, BCR

Seller: Wharton Equity Partners, New York, NY

Deal Commentary: Totaling nearly 190,000 square feet, the food processing facility on Griffith Morgan Lane sold in the second quarter for just over $30 million to Puratos Group. Built in 1980, the facility is fully leased to Royal Wine, a subsidiary of Kenover Marketing, a division of Kayco, although the buyer plans to renovate and occupy the building by 2025. Based outside Brussels, Belgium, the firm is a global provider of products, raw materials and applications to the bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors.

TOP SALE: Student Housing Complex Near Lehigh University

Sale Price: $29,500,000

Sale Date: May 31, 2023

Size: 143,736.5 SF

Buyer: Amicus Properties, New York, NY

Seller: Beacon Assets, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Deal Commentary: A student housing portfolio totaling 383 beds near Lehigh University traded hands in a second-quarter sale arranged by GREA, formerly Rittenhouse Realty Advisors. New York-based Amicus Properties purchased the sprawling portfolio, which included 45 modern apartment units, 62 single-family houses, and one street-level commercial space, all located within a short walk of Lehigh University, Seller Beacon Assets acquired the portfolio in 2018.

TOP SALE: 525 Jaycee Drive and 675 Jaycee Drive, Hazleton, PA

675 Jaycee Drive, Hazleton, PA (CoStar)

Sale Price: $23,850,000

Sale Date: May 23, 2023

Size: 283,450 SF

Buyer: Bridge Investment Group, Sandy, UT

Seller: EAM-Mosca, Hazleton, PA

Deal Commentary: A two-building industrial portfolio totaling 283,450 square feet sold as a sale-leaseback transaction during the second quarter. Utah-based Bridge Net Lease acquired the two off-market manufacturing and distribution properties in Hazleton near the intersection of two interstate highways. The properties were fully occupied by the seller, EAM-Mosca Corp., which signed two 15-year absolute new leases with two additional 5-year options at the close of escrow.

TOP SALE: The Pavilion at Lansdale, 401-561S. Broad St., Lansdale, PA

401-561 S. Broad St., Lansdale, PA (CoStar)

Sale Price: $19,500,000

Sale Date: April 14, 2023

Size: 111,615 SF

Buyer: MBF Real Estate Holdings, Springfield, PA

Seller: J.C. BAR Properties, York, PA

Deal Commentary: The Pavilion at Lansdale shopping center was 96% leased at the time of sale to MBF Real Estate Holdings. Major tenants include Grocery Outlet, Dollar Tree, Pets Plus Natural, and Allure Salon. The sale was the upleg in the buyer’s 1031 exchange.

TOP SALE: Richland Plaza, 701-751 S. West End Blvd., Quakertown, PA

701-751 S. West End Blvd., Quakertown, PA (CoStar)

Sale Price: $16,700,000

Sale Date: June 1, 2023

Size: 206,501 SF

Buyer: Velocity Venture Partners, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Seller: AKL Associates, Easton, PA

Deal Commentary: AKL Associates sold Richland Plaza in Quakertown to Velocity Venture Partners for $16.7 million, or approximately $80.87 per square foot with plans to redevelop the retail property into industrial. Rebranded as Velocity 309, the location is in Upper Bucks County with direct frontage along Route 309. At the time of closing, the center was just 25% leased.


Top Industrial Leases Recognized for Philadelphia

Prominent industrial leases signed by Amazon, Harley-Davidson and ID Logistics negotiated are among the second-quarter industrial leases recognized.

As big-ticket items involving sizable investments, commercial property transactions often have a wider impact within the community. 

Here are the Philadelphia industrial leases selected as the second-quarter 2023 winners of the CoStar Power Broker Quarterly Deal Awards:

TOP LEASE: 251 Westwood Hill, Tremont, PA

251 Westwood Hill, Tremont, PA (CoStar)

Space Leased: 1,347,493 SF

Deal Type: New Lease

Size: 1,347,493 SF

Tenant: Amazon

Deal Commentary: The rumors that Amazon was interested in leasing the first of two massive distribution buildings planned in the Rausch Creek Logistics Center proved to be true. Panattoni Development completed the first of two buildings totaling approximately 2,387,295 square feet planned in the logistics complex located off I-81 in February. The warehouse has 253 dock doors, a 40’ clear height, and over 800 parking spaces. Panattoni acquired the site in mid-2021 and plans to start work on the second phase by the end of this year.

TOP LEASE: York Business Center, 603-621 Memory Lane, York, PA

603-621 Memory Lane, York, PA (CoStar)

Space Leased: 785,910 SF

Deal Type: Renewal

Size: 1,525,000 SF

Tenant: Harley-Davidson

Deal Commentary: Popular American motorcycle brand Harley-Davidson renewed its lease at the York Business Center. The firm has assembled its motorbikes at this location since 2013. Spanning over a million square feet, the industrial complex is owned by Endurance Real Estate and ASB Real Estate Investments.

TOP LEASE: 150 Fort Motel Dr., Myerstown, PA

150 Fort Motel Dr., Myerstown, PA (CoStar)

Space Leased: 277,171 SF

Deal Type: New Lease

Size: 277,171 SF

Tenant: Saddle Creek Logistics

Deal Commentary: As part of a major national expansion of its existing warehouse and fulfillment operations, Florida-based Saddle Creek Logistics Services executed a deal to lease the recently built industrial facility owned by Dalfen Industrial in the Central Logistics Park off Fort Motel Drive. In addition to this location, the omnichannel, integrated supply chain company opened facilities in Kentucky and Illinois with plans to open a North Las Vegas, Nevada location in early 2024.

TOP LEASE: 1000 Coopertown Road, Delanco, NJ

1000 Coopertown Road, Delanco, NJ (CoStar)

Space Leased: 255,000 SF

Deal Type: Sublease

Size: 255,000 SF

Subtenant: ID Logistics

Deal Commentary: ID Logistics filled a large warehouse vacancy left by the April departure of Misfits Markets from this cold-storage facility owned by Provender Partners. ID Logistics is an international logistics and transportation company based in France. In March of 2022, the firm acquired Kane Logistics based in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to expand its East Coast presence.

TOP LEASE: 301 Bordentown-Hedding Road, Bordentown, NJ

301 Bordentown-Hedding Road, Bordentown, NJ (CoStar)

Space Leased: 213,000 SF

Deal Type: Renewal

Size: 213,000 SF

Tenant: Owens & Minor

Deal Commentary: Fortune 500 global healthcare product distributor Owens & Minor renewed the lease for its distribution center in Bordentown in a top second-quarter deal. The firm has operated out of the First Industrial Realty Trust-owned facility since 2016 as part of the New York distribution network for the company.

TOP LEASE: 499 Commerce Drive, Burlington Township, NJ

499 Commerce Drive, Burlington Township, NJ (CoStar)

Space Leased: 97,500 SF

Deal Type: Renewal

Size: 97,500 SF

Tenant: Alpi USA

Deal Commentary: Family-run, global logistics company with a focus on freight forwarding will continue to operate in its leased facility off Commerce Drive after renewing its full-building lease in the second quarter. Owned by EQT Exeter, the building features a prime location in Burlington Township with convenient access to Highway 295.

TOP LEASE: 1651 River Road, Burlington, NJ

1651 River Road, Burlington, NJ (CoStar)

Space Leased: 95,873 SF

Deal Type: Renewal

Size: 192,402 SF

Tenant: Ta Chen International

Deal Commentary: Ta Chen International, a master distributor of stainless, aluminum and nickel alloy products, inked a deal to fill the remaining space in Building 4 of the Burlington Industrial Park. The company has 21 other locations around the U.S. with international locations in Canada, Taiwan, and China. Owned by Greek Development, the warehouse property was developed by MRP Realty in 2017.

TOP LEASE: 801 Bridgeboro Road, Edgewater Park, NJ

801 Bridgeboro Road, Edgewater Park, NJ (CoStar)

Space Leased: 70,887 SF

Deal Type: New Lease

Size: 70,887 SF

Tenant: Armstrong Logistics

Deal Commentary: Armstrong Logistics inked a deal in Edgewater Park to expand its operations, becoming the sole occupant of this Bridgeboro Road facility. The company also inked an additional lease during the second quarter for over 80,000 square feet in Edison, Pennsylvania.

TOP LEASE: 145 Morgan Lane, York, PA

145 Morgan Lane, York, PA (CoStar)

Space Leased: 70,000 SF

Deal Type: New Lease

Size: 70,000 SF

Tenant: Lexora Home

Deal Commentary: Bathroom furnishing wholesaler Lexora Home leased this distribution center off Morgan Lane in York, as part of a relocation from Secaucus, New Jersey. Beginning in 2009 as a family business called First Look Bath, the firm has since expanded into cabinet manufacturing and distribution.

TOP LEASE: Alexander Court 3, 870 Calcon Hook Road, Sharon Hill, PA

870 Calcon Hook Road, Sharon Hill, PA (CoStar)

Space Leased: 53,000 SF

Deal Type: Renewal

Size: 53,000 SF

Tenant: Matheson Flight Extenders

Deal Commentary: Matheson Flight Extenders, a provider of mail-sorting services, renewed the lease for this entire distribution facility located in the Folcroft East Business Park. This distribution facility is owned by The Henderson Group of Media, Pennsylvania.


Navigating a REIT Portfolio in a Challenging Commercial Real Estate Market (Video)