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It's only a matter of time before Walmart pushes into Philly's CBD. (Maybe it'll get in turf war/snowball fight with Comcast.) Walmart senior director of real estate Matt Sitton told us yesterday that Walmart plans both to expand in metro Philly—especially within the city—and convert the older discount stores into supercenters.
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Matt, who's one of our panelists for this Thursday's BisnowPhiladelphia Retail Real Estate Summit at The Rittenhouse Hotel (tickets still available here), tells us these conversions add another 30k SF to its 100k to 140k store format with a full-line grocery store. “The first priority for us would be to convert the existing fleet from discount stores into supercenters,” Matt says. In the works: five expansions and three new stores planned for the Philly MSA (including Southern NJ) in 2012. One way to expand is through its novel 40k SF Neighborhood Market format, which is much smaller than its usual big box. While there are sites Matt is scouting for Walmart supercenters, there are no immediate plans for the Neighborhood Market format.
voorhees township municipal town center mall preit joe aristone
Another of our retail panelists, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust's Joe Aristone, says retailer sales in its portfolio is $365/PSF—back to pre-recessionary levels. (It feels kinda like shedding those extra holiday pounds and getting back into beach shape.) As is total occupancy, which is now more than 90%. But he notes a bifurcation in asset quality: Class-A product is performing extremely well, while the lower-volume centers are still struggling. And PREIT has also been pushing complementary uses at its malls. For instance, it recently got NJ's Voorhees Township to relocate its 24k SF municipal offices at Voorhees Town Center (above). And PREIT announced a 23k SF MOB at its Plymouth Meeting Mall, part of a partnership with the Mercy Health System. Mixing up its retail properties will continue to be emphasized by PREIT, Joe says.
goldenberg group adam rosenzweig activity retail philadelphia real estate summit rottenberg hotel
We also checked in with another panelist, The Goldenberg Group SVP Adam Rosenzweig, who tells us activity has spiked in the past two years, and along with that, so has leasing. During the Great Recession, Goldenberg Group saw six of its big box spaces and three pad sites vacated as both Linens 'N Things and Circuit City folded. Now, all but one of those spaces has been backfilled and Goldberg's entire portfolio is more than 90% leased. But Adam says today's deals “are just getting harder to close,” with retailers and landlords paying closer attention to lease details. Hear more about Goldberg's activities this Thursday. Great schmoozing too!