Now’s the Time to Expand and Renovate in Retail Real Estate

Improvements are Key to Attracting Tenants, Shoppers and Investors

Current market conditions present a strong incentive to evaluate the repositioning of a retail property. Most important, financing rates are – at least for now – at historic lows. The number of tenants looking for space is increasing and construction pricing remains competitive. Whether it’s a full redevelopment or a simple cosmetic “facelift,” investing capital in retail real estate assets can help gain that competitive edge needed to attract tenants, consumers and, ultimately, investors.

Levin Turns Spotlight on Its Construction Management Services

Levin Management is spearheading expansion efforts and renovations at several shopping centers. This multi-venue initiative includes adding square footage at St. Georges Crossing in Woodbridge, N.J., where we will be building 23,000 square feet of space for TJ Maxx on a newly acquired adjacent parcel of land. Similarly, at Mid-Town Plaza in Middletown, Pa., we have orchestrated the purchase of an adjacent parcel to accommodate the construction of a 7,381-square-foot AutoZone.

Additionally, at Clifton Plaza in Clifton, N.J., we are delivering a 15,000-square-foot newly built building for Blink Fitness. And, at Twin City Shopping Center in Jersey City, N.J., we completed a full renovation to enhance that property’s curb appeal.

Last September, HomeGoods at The Shoppes at Flemington held its grand opening. Levin’s leasing representative Jake Frantzman negotiated the transaction, which included construction of a new 22,000-square-foot building for the home fashions retailer. In addition to providing full-service management and creating marketing events for the center, Levin served as construction manager for development of the new retail space. Levin also directed the process to secure the land development appraisals for the project.

HomeGoods at Flemington is a great example of the broad scope of services that Levin provides, from securing a tenant and assisting in lease negotiations to providing the land development approval and construction expertise required to get a project designed, built and delivered on time. Levin’s property management group coordinated with the construction department to ensure that construction of this new building had little, if any, impact on the center’s existing retailers. All of these in-house resources are invaluable throughout the leasing process.

At a time when expansion in commercial retail real estate is driving stellar results, our construction management capabilities are serving our portfolio properties well. We have a long track record of successfully managing the design and construction of real estate projects from start to finish, and a reputation for completing them on time and on budget. Our construction management capabilities cover every aspect of construction project management from fitting out individual tenant spaces, to handling shopping center renovations of any scope, to overseeing property expansions and full redevelopments. Levin will be building on these capabilities in the coming months as the appetite for expansion and renovation continues to grow.



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.

Managing New Property Assignments: Tenants & Contractors

Retail activity is gaining momentum commensurate with the strengthening economy, and, as you would expect, prospective tenants are seeking to lease in the most appealing, well-located and best-managed shopping centers. Since the beginning of 2014, we have secured a number of new assignments from property owners who want to position their centers for maximum advantage in this rapidly reviving market.

For commercial property owners, the key to riding this new and welcome wave is smart real estate property management that creates cost-effective solutions without compromising curb appeal or quality service. That’s a balancing act that we have mastered in our 60 years in retail real estate. We’d like to share with you some of the fundamentals we put into play in every commercial property management assignment we undertake.

Establishing Relationships: That Important First Step

It’s fun diving into a new property, but it’s also extremely work-intensive. The first and most important step is establishing relationships with the existing tenants. We never overlook this one. In many cases, management of the property has turned over for a reason. Our top priority is to determine what needs to change as we go forward and what needs to stay status quo.

Our property managers make time to sit with each tenant in our new property and discuss their experiences at the shopping center: what they like and what they don’t, what unresolved issues they may have that we can address and, also, what’s going right and shouldn’t change. This dialogue is the foundation of the long-term relationship we are building. But we don’t stop with just that initial visit. Our managers stay proactive in tenant outreach and make sure individual store managers know we are always available to discuss any issues as they arise. Levin has a vision of our managers that is unique in commercial property management. We see our managers as not just administrators but as “ambassadors” both for Levin and the property’s ownership.

Start Right with the Right Contractors

New assignments in commercial property management also come with specific administrative requirements, like transferring and reviewing utility accounts and negotiating service contracts. Strong contractor relationships are vital to the success of our clients and ultimately our own success. We work hard to establish these relationships on a firm footing right from the start. We might renew existing contracts or, if our analysis indicates a change is in order, we’ll explore options and seek bids from new suppliers.

Just as we have a unique vision of our managers as “ambassadors,” we have a unique vision of our contractors as “partners.” We see them not just as suppliers of essential services, but as our day-to-day eyes and ears, reporting tenant concerns, so that we can provide quick responses and resolutions. While our property managers are on site regularly, our maintenance, landscaping and snow removal teams often are the first to discover that something is amiss – such as a downed stop sign or a water leak.

Having partners on the ground was especially useful during the extreme weather in our Northeast region this winter. Because of their presence at the physical properties under our management, our contractors were able to alert us to snow-related issues before they turned into expensive repair projects or disrupted store traffic.

We’ll continue sharing our experiences in effective retail property management in our upcoming posts here at Retail Property InSites. Please join us and provide your comments about our posts or about your own management experiences in retail real estate.


Robert Oliver ensures that the operation of each property entrusted to Levin meets the highest standards and remains within its operational budget. He directs the day-to-day activities of property managers at Levin’s 95 shopping centers (totaling more than 13 million square feet). He oversees the team’s training and professional development, aimed at providing superior procedures, direction and support for clients and tenants.  Bob joined Levin in 2002 as a Property Manager and was elevated to his current position in 2013. With more than 27 years of industry experience, he previously oversaw property maintenance at South Street Seaport and Manhattan Mall.

What’s Behind Our Six Decades of Success in Retail Real Estate?

Blog Post: By Joe Lowry, Director of Acquisitions & Business Development

1. We think like an owner.

It’s that simple. First and foremost, we care for your property as if it were our own. Levin Management is recognized for the quality of its third-party retail real estate services precisely because our approach to managing and leasing shopping centers is highly proprietary. Our clients, including individual owners, estates and trusts, institutional investors and fund managers, value the resulting hands-on, proactive strategies that flow from our ownership attitude. We believe that our proprietary approach is the core contributor to the continued increase in overall profitability for the properties in our 13 million-square-foot portfolio.

Names like Blackrock Realty Advisors, Clarion Partners, AEW and PNC Realty Investors turn to Levin because they know we are a trusted advisor, as well as the premier landlord-focused retail real estate services provider in the Northeast.

2. We tailor our approach.

Levin knows there is no cookie-cutter template for managing and leasing shopping centers. That’s why we develop a unique business plan for each property based upon its competitive position and its owner’s goals. Our 60-year track record of crafting strategies that drive positive results in diverse economic environments proves that our tailored approach always beats the template.

Levin’s portfolio is filled with a wide range of properties – from Main Street shops; to neighborhood, community, lifestyle and power centers; to enclosed malls and mixed-use projects – in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina. And we’ve recently expanded into Massachusetts. We’re recognized industry-wide for our success in repositioning, retenanting and renovating retail assets – an expertise that has become particularly vital in today’s increasingly competitive retail environment.

3. We do our job so you can focus on yours.
We’re proud to be recognized as one of the nation’s leading retail real estate services firms. From leasing and property management, to accounting, construction management and marketing, we offer a complete range of services that ensure the most effective and efficient results for each property entrusted to us. Consistent results are among the reasons why so many Levin shopping centers maintain dominance in their markets, and why property owners turn to us, time and again, for the solutions that deliver superior results. Simply put, we provide a tailored, turnkey approach that enables owners and investors to focus on other things, like growing their portfolios.

4. We understand the acquisitions market.

With limited institutional-quality retail real estate coming to market in Levin’s primary area of operation, finding the right shopping center investments can be challenging. If your organization is in buying mode, we can help. We know our primary markets on a granular level. We source off-market acquisition opportunities based on our clients’ specific acquisition criteria, including core, core plus, value-added and opportunistic properties. Additionally, our in-depth knowledge of retail assets and trade areas enables us to provide valuable insight and guidance regarding a specific purchase or sale – from market rental rates, local demographics and traffic data; to information about competing and proposed retail properties; to assessment of a shopping center’s physical infra-structure and capital requirements, tenant roster and upside potential. This expertise is another factor that contributes to our unique position as leaders in the industry.

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 experiences and challenges in retail real estate.

About Joe Lowry: A 25-year industry veteran, Joe 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.