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Six Signs the Philly Market is Roaring Back

Philadelphia Retail

Like the Eagles on opening day, Philadelphia is the Comeback Kid. It's why we're pumped up about the all-star roster of speakers who will talk about the region's resurgence at our fourth annual Philadelphia State of the Market at the Sheraton on Logan Square Sept. 24.

1) Retailers Have Returned

BET Investments prez Michael Markman, who's speaking at the event, tells us that retailers are back into the market, with mid-sized spaces and restaurants leading the way and value-end stores and quick-service retailers like Starbucks eager to fill smaller spaces. (That’s Michael with his wife, Lynne, outside the very first Starbucks in Seattle.) Pet stores are shrinking and office supplies are stagnant, but gyms are vibrant and movie theaters are finding ways to reinvent themselves by bringing the “living-room experience” to the cineplex, he says. His firm's national holdings total over 7M SF in retail, multifamily, and office.

2) Don't Forget About Malls

Starting next spring, BET plans to transform Granite Run Mall in Media (rendered by Martin Architectural Group) into a walkable, outward-facing shopping experience with a permanent shopping base located at 400 apartment units nearby. Anchor tenants, including Sears and Boscov’s, are hanging around, but the total retail area will downsize by a third to 200k SF. Meanwhile, a mixed-use ground-up venture at Dresher Commons in Upper Dublin will bring fast-casual retail spots like Chipotle, a CVS, and other restaurants, plus an office building and 22 townhomes, to a high-income area of the Philly 'burbs.

3) Multifamily's Bright Future

Michael’s multifamily outlook is also bullish because of low interest rates, now below 4%; BET has $150M in national summer acquisitions to show for it. One of these is The Edge at West Chester, a 459-bed student complex just off of the West Chester University campus that'll get amenities in the form of improvements to the clubhouse and courtyard. Installation of higher-end unit amenities, such as granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, is also a part of the overall value-add strategy for BET.

4) Trophies Are On the Block

It'll be a special day for JLL EVP Doug Rodio because he's delivering our event’s opening remarks. Or maybe because it's his wedding anniversary that day. (We guess that's special, too. Here he is with his wife, Emily, and three young’uns, Penelope, Andie and Cameron.) Doug will put into perspective the market's liquidity, which has produced an astonishing number of high-quality properties going up for sale, possibly making 2015 the busiest year on record. 

5) Global Competition For Philly

Year to date, Doug and his team of Jim Galbally, John Plower, and Erin Miller have closed 19 transactions totaling 3M SF and nearing $500M in value. Two of their listings, the 287k SF 7 Penn Center and 800k SF 1835 Market St (pictured), generated enormous interest, including from international capital, recieving over 15 offers on each, Doug tells us. (You usually only get this sort of global competition during pairs figure skating.) Expect a buyer for 1835 to be selected soon, while 7 Penn Center is under contract. The JLL team’s marketing efforts are also underway on 1515 Market St, a 502k SF building with 87% occupancy (Temple University is the main tenant).

6) Charley Is Coming Home

We’ll also hear from MRP Realty SVP Charley McGrath. The DC firm’s entry into the Philly market—purchasing the Avenue of the Arts Building this year—was also a homecoming of sorts for Charley: The Delco native just moved into a 300-year-old farmhouse that he renovated over the summer. (He's here with wife Rayna and sons Brodey and Declan enjoying the sands in Avalon.) An 11-year acquisitions vet who's managed $1.2B of development and investments, Charley is leading the charge to establish MRP’s presence in Philly through acquisitions across all products. And while the 24th isn’t his anniversary, he and his wife are expecting their third child, and first daughter, that week. (If it happens, legally that makes us the godfather.)

We’re excited to have Charley, Doug, and Michael join our other top-notch speakers: O’Neill Properties CEO Brian O’Neill, Tower Investments CEO Bart Blatstein, Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger, Visit Philadelphia CEO Meryl Levitz, and Center City District CEO Paul Levy. Great networking too! Don't miss out; register today.