Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Philadelphia’s Industrial Development Shifts Gears in 2024


By Brenda Nguyen Costar

Following a record year of building completions in 2023, Philadelphia's industrial development momentum has slowed down considerably in early 2024. Increased financing costs and an accumulation of unleased inventory have prompted developers to exercise caution as industrial rent growth slows across the market.

The industrial leasing heydays of 2021 and 2022 propelled developers to pursue a record-breaking volume of new development in recent years. In 2023 alone, nearly 21.7 million square feet of industrial space spanning 80 buildings were completed, including six structures exceeding 1 million square feet.

Industrial development activity was concentrated in Burlington, Bucks, Cecil and Gloucester counties, which collectively accounted for 80% of the industrial space completed over the past 12 months.

This recent surge brought Philadelphia's three-year cumulative delivery total to 52.7 million square feet, reflecting a substantial 7.7% growth in the region's industrial footprint. However, the surge in new supply pressured Philadelphia's industrial vacancy rate to rise from a historic low of 4% in mid-2021 to 7% in the first quarter of 2024. In particular, Burlington County has reached a 12% vacancy rate—among the highest in the region.

However, the number of new industrial projects starting construction has incrementally subsided as developers and lenders adopt a more cautious approach. New construction starts across the region have declined by 50% from 2022 levels.

As the number of new developments underway has dwindled, the Philadelphia region will see a quieter year in terms of completions in 2025. This development slowdown is expected to align with an anticipated improvement in economic growth and a reduction in interest rates, potentially strengthening leasing demand just as the reduced amount of new space hits the market.

In the meantime, with another 11.4 million square feet underway, the average vacancy for industrial space is expected to trend upward for several more quarters before stabilizing.

The amount of available inventory has already grown by 50% to 61 million square feet within the Philadelphia region in the first quarter of 2024, a stark contrast from the 40.5 million square feet that were listed as available in mid-2022. Industrial property owners should anticipate a more competitive lease-up environment through at least mid-2024.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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Victory Brewing Co. completes a Sale Lease Back Chester County facility for $21.79M

 By Emma Dooling – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal

Victory Brewing Co. has sold one of its Chester County properties, and will use the money to fund upgrades at its other locations.

The Downingtown craft brewer sold its 212,000-square-foot Parkesburg brewery and taproom for $21.79 million in late January to New York asset manager Fortress Investment Group LLC, according to property records. The transaction was a sale-leaseback and will not impact the facility's operations, John Struble, CFO for Artisanal Brewing Ventures, the parent company of Victory Brewing, told the Business Journal.

"The commercial property market is active, and this was a pure financial transaction for us," Struble said in a statement.

Victory Brewing acquired the 42-acre property for $10.75 million in 2016, several years after its operations at the site began. The facility started bottling and brewing in 2013, and a 10,000-square-foot taproom was added to its offerings in 2015.

The brewery now has a 25-year lease on the facility, located at 3127 Lower Valley Road, with multiple options to extend it up to 40 years.

Artisanal Brewing Ventures plans to reinvest the money it received from the transaction into marketing efforts and facility upgrades at some of its locations. Struble said a "significant portion" of the funds allocated for facility renovations will go toward updates at the Parkesburg brewery and taproom but did not disclose what the project will entail.

In addition to the Parkesburg facility, Victory Brewing also operates a brewery and taproom in Downingtown and taprooms in Kennett Square; Philadelphia; and Charlotte, North Carolina; The Philadelphia location, the brewer's newest taproom, opened in October 2021 at 1776 Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City.

Full story:

Monday, February 26, 2024

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Toll Brothers nets $180M in cash from unexpected sale it 'couldn't refuse'

 By Dan Brendel and Michael Potter – Philadelphia Business Journal

Toll Brothers Inc. began February with an unexpected windfall, netting more than $180 million from the sale of vacant land it once tabbed for an expansive residential development.

The Fort Washington-based homebuilder announced the sale Tuesday in conjunction with its earnings report for the fiscal first quarter ended Jan. 31. Toll Brothers CEO Douglas Yearley Jr., speaking to investors on the company's earnings call Wednesday, called the all-cash deal a "one-off."

"We had a unique piece of property in Virginia that we were processing for approvals to build homes on and a data center operator came along and made us an offer that we couldn't refuse," Yearley said.

JK Land Holdings, a major Virginia data center investor led by CEO Chuck Kuhn, bought the 108-acre lot at 19508 Freedom Trail Road in Ashburn. Toll Brothers previously planned to build some 1,300 apartments and townhouses at the site, located about 35 miles west of Washington, D.C., in affluent Loudoun County.

Yearley did not identify JK Land Holdings as the buyer when discussing the deal on Wednesday's call. The sale took place in Toll's second quarter, which began Feb. 1, according to the company.

Toll Brothers said it expects a pre-tax land sale gain of about $175 million in the second quarter as a result of the sale, and Yearley told investors the proceeds will be used to increase its budget for share repurchases from $400 million to $500 million in fiscal 2024.

Full story:

Friday, February 23, 2024

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Over $1 Billion of Philadelphia Office Properties Traded in 2023 Amid Shaky Market Conditions


By Brenda Nguyen

Office sales activity persisted in Philadelphia last year despite disruptive office market fluctuations, revealing resourceful developers, investors and companies capitalizing on a shifting market.

Before 2020, office buildings reigned supreme, regularly commanding top dollar among commercial real estate property types from investors.

However, the lasting effects of the pandemic disrupted that trend. As employers and employees navigate the evolving future of in-person work amid lingering economic uncertainties, the office investment landscape remains in flux.

Subsequently, the level of office investment has declined with each passing year since 2019.

Interestingly, office investment—which was the least-favored asset for Philadelphia investors in 2021-2022—accounted for 25% of the total investments across retail, multifamily and industrial property types in 2023, up from 17% in 2021. Philadelphia office sales in 2023 even surpassed the volume of multifamily sales.

Several categories have buoyed the recent office sales volume, particularly projects primed for redevelopment and stabilized office buildings with a value-added component.

In a notable example from October 2023, a joint venture between FLD Group and A&H Acquisitions acquired the Bala Plaza portfolio in one of the top deals in the fourth quarter. The five-building, 1.14 million-square-foot office campus traded for $185 million, or approximately $163 per square foot. The new owners plan to redevelop the campus, incorporating 2.1 million square feet of retail, a 168-room hotel, 750,000 square feet of office space, and 750 residential units.

Medical office buildings and sale-leasebacks have also contributed to the heightened recent office sales activity.

The investment figures reflect a quietly opportunistic mindset among a small enclave of investors and developers despite lingering uncertainties from the pandemic.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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Done Deals: Sansone pays $20M for Tac-Pal project site; Yellow Corp. sells Montco property out of bankruptcy

By Paul Schwedelson – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal

Here’s a roundup of recent real estate news and transactions in the Philadelphia area.

$20 million

Palmyra Urban Redevelopment Entity sold 60 acres off Route 73 just over the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge for $20 million to an entity affiliated with St. Louis-based Sansone Group, which is developing Phase 2 of the Tac-Pal Logistics Center at the New Jersey site.

The first phase of the project, developed in partnership with Dallas-based Crow Holdings Capital, was completed with a 702,450-square-foot industrial building. YesWay Logistics leased 252,000 square feet of that building, leaving about 450,000 square feet remaining. The second phase will see construction of a 704,182-square-foot industrial building, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

$7.7 million

PECO paid $7.7 million for a 7-acre property with a vacant 13,700-square-foot office and truck servicing building at 480 S. Gravers Road in Plymouth Meeting. Proudfoot Investments was the seller.

$3.2 million

Transportation logistics company Realterm bought a 7.4-acre industrial truck terminal with 71 doors from Yellow Corp. for $3.2 million, according to Montgomery County property records. The property is at 750 County Line Road in Colmar.

Nashville, Tennessee-based Yellow sold the property out of bankruptcy. Yellow previously sold a 13.3-acre truck terminal in Bensalem to XPO Inc. for $36.2 million.

$2.5 million

Bala Cynwyd-based Velocity Venture Partners paid $2.5 million for a 47,800-square-foot industrial property at 1310 Stanbridge St. in Norristown. Velocity bought the property from Weber Real Estate Holdings. The building is fully leased by Norfab, which manufactures heat-resistant materials for firefighters.

The building is attached to a 127,000-square-foot industrial building at 1210 Stanbridge St. that Velocity bought for $4 million in 2019 when it was mostly vacant. Since then, Velocity has leased the entire building. VonC Brewing, HVAC supplier Cianci and Daimion, and Sweet Prosperity Bakery are among the tenants.

$1.475 million

An entity affiliated with Barnegat, New Jersey-based Walters Group bought an undeveloped 4.1-acre site at 1500 Pennbrook Parkway in Upper Gwynedd for $1.475 million. Walters Group plans to build 60 apartments across multiple buildings on the property.

38,000 square feet

Buccini/Pollin Group expanded coworking space in downtown Wilmington named The Mill by 38,000 square feet, bringing the space to a total of 104,700 square feet.

The coworking space is at Market West, formerly known as the Nemours building, at 221 W. 10th St. The expansion to the third floor of the building includes an additional 30 furnished offices, outdoor terraces, a podcasting suite and recreational activities like foosball and cornhole.

The 14-story, 800,000-square-foot Market West building is undergoing a $100 million renovation that will eventually feature 355 apartments while reducing the building’s office footprint from 450,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet.

Full story:

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

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Top Commercial Property Sales Recognized for Philadelphia

TOP SALE: Bala Plaza Portfolio of 5 Properties

Sale Price: $185,000,000

Sale Date: October 30, 2023

Size: 1,136,771 SF

Buyer: FLD Group, Jackson, NJ, A&H Acquisitions, New York, NY and MS Management, Eatontown, NJ

Seller: Tishman Speyer, New York, NY

Deal Commentary: Tishman Speyer's sale of Bala Plaza, handing off the long-planned renovation of the Main Line complex to a new set of stakeholders, ranked as the top sale of the fourth quarter for the Philadelphia region. The sale involved three Bala Plaza office buildings in the Philadelphia suburb of Bala Cynwyd, along with a freestanding Saks Fifth Avenue department store off City Ave. All were acquired by FLD Group, Inc. and the Adjmi family's A & H Acquisitions Corp. for $185 million. The property's new ownership group is expected to continue the redevelopment plans for the property based on the approved master plan obtained by Tishman that calls for the 2.1 million square feet of new development encompassing multiple retail sites, a 168-room hotel, approximately 750,000 square feet of office space and 750 residential units. Work on the properties is expected to take place over the next two decades.

TOP SALE: Cindel Business Park, Cinnaminson, NJ

Sale Price: Not disclosed

Sale Date: December 20, 2023

Size: 1,123,325 SF

Buyer: ARES Management, Denver, CO

Seller: Whitesell Construction Company, Mount Laurel, NJ

Deal Commentary: In another top deal that closed in the fourth quarter, Whitesell Construction sold the 14-building Cindel Business Park to Colorado-based ARES Management LLC for an undisclosed price. The industrial/flex portfolio totaled 1,123,325 square feet and was built between 1985 and 1990 on 85.6 acres. The sale included a pair of properties in the Pennsauken Industrial Park totaling 85,921 square feet. The group of properties includes a mix of flex properties and warehouse space that range in size and occupancy levels located off of Taylor Lane.

TOP SALE: 84 Zions View Road, Manchester, PA

Sale Price: $110,250,000

Sale Date: November 28, 2023

Size: 1,000,350 SF

Buyer: Prologis, San Francisco, CA

Seller: GLP Capital Partners, Santa Monica, CA

Deal Commentary: San Francisco-based Prologis picked up a major industrial facility located on Zions View Road in in Manchester, Pennsylvania, that totals more than one million square feet from another California-based owner GLP Capital Partners in a fourth-quarter deal. Originally developed by DHL in 2019, the global freight transport firm occupies 330,350 square feet in the building, while healthcare and nutrition conglomerate Bayer occupies the remaining 670,000 square feet. GLP acquired the property from DHL at the end of 2019 for $85,216,000.

TOP SALE: 325 Centerpoint Blvd., Jenkins Township, PA

Sale Price: $78,200,000

Sale Date: October 20, 2023

Size: 744,080 SF

Buyer: EQT Exeter, Radnor, PA

Seller: Blackstone, New York, NY

Deal Commentary: Blackstone, the New York-based global asset manager, sold this large industrial property located off Centerpoint Blvd. in Jenkins Township to EQT Exeter in a top fourth-quarter transaction. The distribution building situated across nearly 50 acres delivered in 2008 and was fully leased to Lowe’s Companies Inc. under a lease through March 2027.

TOP SALE: Codorus Quarry Logistics Center, 520 and 540 Busser Road, York, PA

Sale Price: $66,565,000

Sale Date: December 19, 2023

Size: 507,099 SF

Buyer: Hillwood Development, Dallas, TX

Seller: Core5 Industrial Partners, Atlanta, GA

Deal Commentary: In another top deal from the fourth quarter, Core5 Industrial Partners sold two single-tenant warehouses to Texas-based Hillwood Development Corp. for approximately $131.27 per square foot. The fully leased single-tenant buildings delivered in 2023 in the Core5 at Codorus Creek industrial park and include one building measuring 204,269 square feet at 520 Busser Road leased to Middleby Residential, and a second building totaling 302,830 square feet at 540 Busser Road leased to Aurora Parts.

TOP SALE: Portfolio of 4 Multifamily Properties, Upper Darby, PA

Sale Price: Not disclosed

Sale Date: December 12, 2023

Size: 400,406 SF

Buyer: Woodward Properties, Havertown, PA

Seller: The McKee Group, Springfield, PA

Deal Commentary: The McKee Group finalized the fourth-quarter sale of a 436-unit multifamily portfolio to Woodward Properties, which assumed the seller’s outstanding debt on the properties. The four rental apartment properties in the Upper Darby Township include the 232-unit Merion Trace Apts. at 7200 Merion Terrance, the 106-unit Lindenwood Apts. at 100 Shadeland Ave., the 66-unit Lindenwood North & West at 100 Shadeland Ave. and the 32-unit Carole House Apartments at 8650 West Chester Pike. The buyer assumed the seller’s outstanding debt on the properties.

TOP SALE: The Cubes at Lehigh Valley, 7378 Airport Road, Bath, PA

Sale Price: $60,250,000

Sale Date: December 14, 2023

Size: 450,000 SF

Buyer: Prologis, San Francisco, CA

Seller: CRG, Chicago, IL

Deal Commentary: Prologis remained quite active in the Philadelphia region in the fourth quarter with the acquisition of another major industrial property, the 450,000-square-foot The Cubes at Lehigh Valley in a December deal.

TOP SALE: 15000 Roosevelt Blvd., Philadelphia, PA

Sale Price: $54,464,456

Sale Date: December 12, 2023

Size: 51.67 Acres

Buyer: Rockefeller Group, New York, NY and PCCP, Los Angeles, CA

Seller: PAID, Philadelphia, PA

Deal Commentary: The Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development (PAID) sold a fully entitled development site measuring more than 50 acres to a joint venture between Rockefeller Group and PCCP. The two firms plan to develop the Rockefeller Group Logistics Center at Roosevelt Boulevard, to include a pair of large logistics buildings measuring 318,696 square feet and 338,208 square feet, respectively, for a total of 656,904 square feet. The seller is a subsidiary of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. or PIDC, Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation.

TOP SALE: Le Méridien Philadelphia, 1421 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA

Sale Price: $46,650,000

Sale Date: December 19, 2023

Size: 112,383 SF

Buyer: Hersha Hospitality Trust, Philadelphia, PA and Certares Management, New York, NY

Seller: Walton Street Capital, Chicago, IL

Deal Commentary: A joint venture between Hersha Hospitality Trust and New York-based investment firm Certares Management acquired the Le Meridien hotel in Philadelphia in a top fourth-quarter deal from Chicago-based real estate investment trust, Walton Street Capital. Certares and Hersha have an investment partnership in which the two entities jointly purchase hotels. The 10-story Le Meridien Philadelphia was constructed in the Georgian Revival style in the early 20th century and designed by Philadelphia architect, Horace Trumbauer. Originally operated as a YMCA community center, the property was redeveloped into a hotel as part of an adaptive reuse project in 2010.

TOP SALE: Portfolio of 5 Shallow-Bay Industrial Properties

Sale Price: $40,800,000

Sale Date: November 10, 2023

Size: 339,136 SF

Buyer: Taurus Investment Holdings, Boston, MA

Seller: PCCP, Los Angeles, CA and Endurance Real Estate Group, Radnor, PA

Deal Commentary: PCCP and Endurance Real Estate Group, both based in Pennsylvania, sold a fully leased, five-building shallow-bay industrial portfolio to Boston-based Taurus Investment Holdings, which plans to develop a new 64,500-square-foot industrial building on an unused portion of a parking lot on the 600 Delran Parkway property. Taurus also said it plans to take advantage of the New Jersey Community Solar Program to install rooftop solar panels on four of the existing assets and the new building, rendering the project carbon-negative. The Boston-based industrial investment firm also said southern New Jersey has emerged as a cost-effective alternative to Northern New Jersey, with tenants increasingly relocating to South Jersey to take advantage of lower operational costs, including reduced occupancy expenses, an abundance of affordable labor, and lower real estate taxes.