On the Move in Greater Philadelphia’s Retail Real Estate Market


Levin Launches New Strategic Leasing Program at Bradford Plaza, West Chester

Levin’s well-established foothold in the affluent Philadelphia suburbs is in expansion mode. The latest addition to our retail property management portfolio in this desirable geographic area of the Northeast is Bradford Plaza, a 161,000-square-foot, grocery-anchored shopping center located at 700 Downingtown Pike in West Chester, Pa.

A Prime Commercial Real Estate Property in a Prime Location

Anchored by Giant Foods, the leading grocer in suburban Chester County, Bradford Plaza is home to national tenants such as Petco, Dollar Tree and Walgreens, and also includes a Giant Fuel Station, a Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits store, as well as a diverse mix of popular local retailers. Levin is currently marketing several vacancies in the center ranging from 1,750 to 7,900 square feet, including a pad site.

With its strong demographic profile – average household income is $115,000-plus – West Chester is a prime commercial retail real estate location. And Bradford Plaza is a prime property, a well-maintained, well-positioned retail destination, with potential for even greater growth. Located at the busy intersection of Downingtown Pike (Route 322) and West Strasburg Road (Route 162), this shopping center enjoys a daily traffic count in excess of 20,000 vehicles. The surrounding area is populous, with over 100,000 people living within a five-mile radius of Bradford Plaza.

New Strategic Management and Leasing Program Ahead for Bradford Plaza

Levin is no stranger to the greater Philadelphia retail real estate market. Our other regional retail leasing and management assignments include ShopRite-anchored Morrell Plaza in Northeast Philadelphia; and The Shops at Blue Bell in Blue Bell, also anchored by Giant Foods. Our regional reputation and our on-the-ground market knowledge contributed to our winning the Bradford assignment. Also critical to our success here was our institutional-level management capabilities in retail real estate, which focus on maximizing asset values through operational efficiency, maintaining strong curb appeal and creating the ideal tenant mix for all of the properties in our portfolio.

We are excited with our latest assignment and look forward to the upcoming management transition at this desirable West Chester property. It provides us an opportunity to execute a strategic management and leasing program that will draw key tenants and increase both occupancy, traffic and continued success at Bradford Plaza.

Look for news and observations from Levin Management executives in upcoming posts here at Retail Property InSites. Please join us and share your comments about our posts or about your own management experiences in retail real estate.

Brisk Activity Reflects Post-Recession Revival in Retail Leasing


Levin Sees Surge of Three Dozen New Leases and Renewals through May 2014

The first five months of 2014 were a busy period at Levin, with three dozen shopping center leases and renewals, totaling 337,000 square feet, finalized. We had been expecting the post-recession momentum that began late last fall to continue in our Northeast retail real estate market, where the majority of our 13 million-square-foot, 95-property leasing and management portfolio is located. We were pleased to see our projections materialize into what we believe is a positive and highly promising retail real estate trend for the balance of this current year.

National, Local and Franchises Drive Heightened Commercial Retail Leasing Activity

Brand-name retailers, both national and regional, and franchisees at all levels played a major role in Levin’s largest recent surge of new lease transactions. These included a 41,302-square-foot commitment by Dave & Buster’s at Post Road Plaza in Pelham Manor, N.Y., and a 19,430-square-foot commitment by Sears Authorized Hometown Stores at Blue Star Shopping Center in Watchung, N.J. Other noteworthy leases included a 6,400-square-foot commitment by Dollar Plus at Hamilton Street Shopping Center in Franklin Township, N.J.; a 6,000-square-foot lease by Giant Wine & Liquor, LLC, dba Buy Rite Liquor at Capitol Plaza in Ewing, N.J.; a 2,500-square-foot lease with Choice Pet Supply at Mayfair Shopping Center in Commack, N.Y.; and a 1,289-square-foot lease by Allevia Spa at The Shops at Blue Bell in Blue Bell, Pa. These national and local chains and franchise companies with strong brand recognition among consumers continue to be powerful performers in the Northeast region. They comprise a category base that reflects a broad variety of offerings. Restaurants, apparel, pet supplies, gyms and personal services are among the most active tenant types. A strategic mix of these diverse retailers draws and sustains shopper traffic.

Competitive Positioning: The Key to Delivering Shoppers, Tenants and Investors

From Levin’s viewpoint, this stepped-up retail leasing activity makes competitive positioning a vitally important component for attracting shoppers and tenants, as well as investors in a disposition scenario. This “triple play” is based on three basic ideas. One, shopping centers with a strong tenant mix and curb appeal draw customers. Two, properties with customers appeal to tenants. Three, stabilized, efficiently-operated assets attract investors. Owners looking to take advantage of the industry’s growing momentum will take the right steps to achieve this ideal and ultimately position their properties for success.

Look for news and observations from Levin Management executives in upcoming posts here at Retail Property InSites. Please join us and share your comments about our posts or about your own management experiences, observations and challenges in retail real estate.

New Brand Identity Reflects Levin’s Leadership Role in Retail Real Estate

Re-designed Website Offers High-Quality User Experience

Levin Management has a total new brand identity, and we’re very excited about the image it projects of our evolving company and its leading role among retail real estate companies. Why did we make this change, you might ask. The answer is fairly simple. We are a 21st century organization, and now our brand reflects who we are. We wanted to position Levin as a company with a future that matches and even exceeds the achievements of its past.

With that new brand positioning in mind, we set out to craft the new Levin image as one of today’s (and tomorrow’s) leaders among retail real estate companies. Our marketing department reviewed dozens of potential logos and tag lines, looking for the visual and verbal messages that best captured the essence of the organization.

Talking to a New Generation in Retail Real Estate

We chose as our tag line “Positioning real estate for a new generation.” Retail real estate today is a fluid and dynamic industry, constantly changing and evolving. Our new line defines Levin as leading, not just responding to, that business environment. Our new logo, with its clean, bold design reinforces the image of Levin as a strong, contemporary pace-setter in commercial retail real estate. You’ll see our logo and tag line on all our communications going forward, especially on our new website. The site went live a few weeks ago and our new brand identity was officially launched.

New Website Includes All Aspects of Levin’s Services in Retail Real Estate

You’ll find many new features and welcome changes on our new site. In addition to its clean, contemporary look, it’s more user-friendly and offers improved functionality and more content than the previous version. Our entire portfolio of retail real estate has been included, accompanied by expanded property descriptions, striking new photography, market demographic information and aerial maps of each shopping center’s location. Users interested in leasing a retail space or in any aspect of commercial retail leasing will find a wealth of useful information. They can search for available retail, office and industrial space; view detailed leasing plans; download printable brochures; and contact Levin’s leasing agents directly via e-mail.

Everything from Retail Financial Services to Construction Management

Our new website also includes many added enhancements and new features such as precise navigation and efficient delivery of the information you’re searching for. Visitors will find a comprehensive overview of Levin’s services from retail financial services to property management services to construction management, all accessible via a drop-down menu right on the home page. You can “meet” the members of Levin’s leasing team, explore a Rankings & Awards section showcasing our industry accomplishments, and dive into in-depth client case studies. There’s a research section highlighting the results of our popular “Retail Store Manager Sentiment” surveys, social media integration, our company blog, an expanded news section, and much more. And if you’re visiting us on a mobile device, our site’s responsive design delivers the same quality experience you’d find on your desktop or laptop computer.

Of course, the best way to get acquainted with our new branding is to pay a visit to www.levinmgt.com. We think you’ll enjoy finding your way around our better-than-ever site. Look for news and observations from Levin Management executives in upcoming posts here at Retail Property InSites. Please join us and share your comments about our posts or about your own management experiences and challenges in retail real estate.

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Melissa Sievwright joined Levin’s marketing department in 2010 and was promoted three times in less than three years to her current management position as Assistant Vice President of Marketing. With a strong background in graphic design and marketing, she heads the company’s corporate branding efforts, implements promotional campaigns for select client properties, and supports the firm’s leasing team in marketing vacancies within the company’s shopping center portfolio. Her current “big picture” goal centers on helping Levin leverage opportunities resulting from the rapid evolution of online marketing and the increasing technological savvy of the commercial real estate community – to project an image that marries the firm’s rich traditions with its modern approach to doing business.

Industry Optimism Reigns at the Super Bowl of Retail Real Estate

ICSC’s RECon is the Number One Place for Deals, News and Trend Spotting

With 32,000 attendees and over 1,000 exhibitors packing the Las Vegas Convention Center, ICSC’s RECon deserves its reputation as the “Super Bowl of Retail Real Estate.” Aiming to do a year’s worth of business in three days, attendees from across the globe gather to network, check out new and proposed retail developments, spot trends, increase their general knowledge and, most important, make deals. This year’s gathering (May 18-20) was no exception. Levin Management, as we have for years, was on the scene. And we want to share some of our observations with you.

The Heat is Back in Retail Real Estate

Levin’s general RECon takeaway jives with that of other attendees and with media coverage of this year’s event. The industry’s mood is upbeat and optimistic, approaching pre-recession attitudes. The momentum, which was lost during the downturn, continues to gain steam. Everyone in every area of our global industry –
retailers, retail service providers, and investors – is eyeing potential acquisitions or expansion in some form.

Investment Capital is Seeking Top-Quality Retail Real Estate Assets

RECon is all about deals and this year institutional investors and fund managers were out in full force, looking aggressively, but very selectively for opportunities. Yes, capital is ready to flow again but only for top-quality retail properties. Memories of the recent downturn are keeping investors cautious. Whatever the cause, institutional investors are very demanding about where they put their dollars. All the boxes have to be checked on every commercial real estate deal these days. Some of the must-haves include:

  • Top notch anchor stores (a #1 or #2 ranked grocer, strong performing boutique grocery store or other market leading necessity oriented brands)
  • Long horizon on anchor leases; lots of in-line credit tenants
  • Strong area demographics; in-fill locations in high barrier markets
  • Good physical plant with great visibility, access and flow

In other words, only the best need apply!

RECon is the Place for Retail Real Estate Trend Spotting

Like all large conventions, RECon was full of buzz about trends and directions. You pick this up at social events, walking the floor, in the booths and seminars, and in the specific media coverage of the event. Just as we’ve seen over the last few conventions, e-commerce and the growing power of the millennial shopper dominated both formal discussions and casual chat.

Online shopping is now an established consumer habit (not just a passing phase) and retailers are looking not just to compete with it, but to harness the power of technology – especially mobile tech – to win customers and enhance the appeal of the brick and mortar experience. Every retail website now is incorporating responsive design, guaranteeing that their look on mobile will be as satisfying as it is on the computer screen.

The digital natives of the millennial generation, who have never known a world without technology are, of course, leading this trend. By 2020, this demographic will be the largest consumer population. Mobile tech is central to virtually every aspect of their daily lives, so shopping is no exception. Value-conscious bargain hunters have led their parents into habits like pre-shopping for the best prices and using mobile couponing. Savvy retailers at RECon were talking about being “where the consumers live” and so, expect to see mobile tech continue as a leader among retailer trends.

The millennial impact is not limited by any means to the virtual world. Retail venues are recasting themselves to meet the tastes of this influential group. That means we’ll see even greater focus and proliferation of mixed-use commercial retail real estate developments. These “lifestyle” centers will go beyond shopping to include entertainment, dining, services, fitness as well as residential, mirroring the urban environments that have proved so appealing to millennials as well as the baby boomers, who want easy access to diverse resources in their retirement years. This mixed-use environment concept, already successful in some locales, will present opportunities for retail construction management services and for architects, particularly in redevelopment of existing properties.

Did you attend RECon this year? What’s your takeaway? Please share your observations with us here on our Retail Property InSites.

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About Joseph Lowry: A 25-year industry veteran, Lowry specializes in evaluating for-sale shopping centers and sourcing off-market retail investment opportunities for Levin Management’s select institutional clients and high-net-worth investors. He also spearheads marketing of the firm’s full suite of third-party services – including leasing, property management, accounting, construction management and marketing – to institutions, fund managers and private owners, including both existing and potential new clients.