Blog

Jul 31

2017

Pioneering the Market East Revival – A Look Back at 833 Chestnut Street

In 1998, 833 Chestnut Street, then known as 841 Chestnut, was taken over by a financial institution when a major tenant moved out, leaving the building only 27% occupied and valued internally at $5 million. AthenianRazak stepped in, shepherded the property steadily through five different owners and asset managers and two major market changes and the building sold to a national healthcare REIT in 2015 for an undisclosed price well over $100 million.

 

The turnaround of this huge (3/4 million sf) property was a quiet but steady success story that helped ignite and support the revitalization we’re seeing in the area now known as Market East.

 

The Philadelphia Inquirer saw potential in the area and in 2012, moved its offices to the third floor of the former Strawbridge and Clothier department store at 801 Market. Century 21 department store opened on the first level of that building in 2014. East Market, a 4-acre mixed-use development that spans an entire block between Market and Chestnut streets will house an apartment tower and retail such as WaWa, Iron Hill Brewery and Mom’s Organic Market. Target has opened on Chestnut St. and the Gallery Shopping Center is being transformed into The Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia. This is just the beginning.

 

AthenianRazak always knew the potential of Market East because the location was prime and we recognized the value of all of the transit there. However, the area was always battling an image of being the lesser side of town. We think the development there makes perfect sense, is long overdue and love that we were in on its inception. As Market East continues its boom as one of Philadelphia’s hottest real estate markets, 833 Chestnut can be viewed as the foundation of this transformation. Its quiet turnaround set the stage and created the stability that catalyzed today’s growth.

Jul 02

2017

The 2017-18 CRE® Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate

CRE recently shared new information about important business disruptors – the issues and trends impacting U.S. commercial and residential real estate. The Counselors of Real Estate® (CRE) is the global professional association which annually announces The CRE® Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate, an update of market trends and conditions which influence real estate opportunities and risks. 

Read the Top 10 issues here.

 Members of CRE are recognized property experts who provide specialized and objective advisory services to clients.  CRE membership is by invitation. Jackie Buhn is a longtime member.

 Political polarization and global uncertainty lead the 2017-18 list because divisiveness–which is occurring at all levels (and is fueled by news headlines, political beliefs and budget constraints)–makes decision making difficult.)  Global uncertainty is also creating challenges for investment and employment in non-U.S. markets, and could negatively impact foreign investment in U.S. properties.

 Other issues include the technology boom – causing extraordinary changes in how real estate is bought, sold, valued, and managed.  Robotics, predicted to replace up to 47% of today’s jobs, clearly will have a serious impact on everything from housing and retail to business offices, tenants and leasing.  Two distinct generations–the Baby Boomers and Millennials–living and working side-by-side – now also present challenges in that they have quite different preferences in the kinds of offices in which they wish to work, as well as housing choices.

The other disruptors on the CRE Top Ten Issues list are:

  • Retail disruption–with malls and downtowns adapting to nationwide store closures with new kinds of experience-driven offerings and the reinvention of the grocery stores which have anchored many upscale shopping malls;
  • Infrastructure investment – such as bridges, ports, and roads, which are now attracting new private investors;
  • Housing: the big mismatch — affordability at all levels is challenging home ownership and even who can rent and where;
  • Lost decades of the middle class – including wage stagnation that significantly restricts purchasing power and home ownership;
  •  Real estate’s emerging role in health care – illustrated by increasing demand for buildings to be designed and operated in ways that promote positive healthy outcomes;
  • Immigration – restrictions could negatively impact this large source of residential tenants and home buyers;
  • Climate change—focusing this year on sea level rises as a serious threat to property values in many parts of the U.S. should  the trend in rising water levels continue.

 

The Counselors of Real Estate organization is known for thought leadership, objective insights and extraordinary professional reach, with more than 50 real estate specialties represented among its member experts who are admitted to the organization by invitation. Members contribute to development of the Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate by participating in the CRE External Affairs (Issues and Trends) initiative.

 

 

 

Jun 19

2017

REO Strategy for Sportsplex Stabilization in Feasterville, PA

We scored big on our latest REO stabilization project at the Sportsplex in Feasterville, PA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sports complex with regional prominence used for both adult and youth sports had seen better days.  AthenianRazak got the assist by transitioning the complicated facility ownership to a stable management team, streamlining their business operations and preparing the property for sale.

 

The Sportsplex is approximately 87,000 square feet. The property includes 3 basketball courts, 2 floor hockey courts with spectator seating and food stand, 16 outdoor tennis courts, an outdoor pool, a rhythmic gymnastics team, a daycare/playground, and other smaller spaces for potential new sports. All courts are multi-purpose and serve many types of sports including an annual women’s roller derby! Notable local sports legends frequent the facility and the Field Hockey team is coached by mom of Olympic athletes, Tina Reinprecht.

 

AthenianRazak handles REO Management for both commercial and residential properties all over the region including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. In the case of the Sportsplex, we worked with them on Property management and stabilization, secured cash flow, prepared an annual budget for the property and oversaw repairs and maintenance. The Sportsplex is now ready for sale and will be able to serve the Feasterville community for years to come.

Jun 13

2017

City of Philadelphia’s Text to Give Campaign

This morning, Mayor Jim Kenney and representatives from the Managing Director’s Office and the Office of Homeless Services introduced a pilot program they’re calling “The Text to Give Campaign.” They are urging people to not give money directly to pan handlers at the vast amount of shared public spaces throughout the city including transit stations, plazas and streets, but donate money by sending a text message to the number 80077 and typing “Share.” The Office of Homeless Services will match each donation. Proceeds go to nonprofits that support housing, jobs and services for homeless.

 

This effort is particularly relevant now as AthenianRazak master leases the retail space owned by SEPTA in Suburban Station. Suburban Station is a significant public space and sees roughly 100,000 passengers pass through daily.

 

AthenianRazak supports this effort wholeheartedly. We are  part of a public-private workgroup comprised of more than a dozen leaders from the business, hospitality and civic communities who work the Mayor’s administration to strategize and take action to ensure that public spaces in Philadelphia can be utilized safely, comfortably and with dignity and respect.

 

May 26

2017

What is the Role of a Development Manager?

Much like a conductor leads the individual sections of an ensemble to do their best in achieving a successful performance, a Development Manager directs and coordinates the many team members and complex details involved in a development or construction project. The Development Management role is indispensable on a successful project team, coordinating every phase from defining initial goals and strategy to site identification to acquisition, zoning and approvals, design and construction, as well as supporting fundraising and financing efforts.

 

A Development Manager can become involved at various phases of a project, and ideally is the first professional engaged. Often the decisions with the biggest financial impact are made right at the start. A Development Manager can also help in a project’s early stages by bringing a professional management structure to the project, providing management continuity and follow-through so that all team members understand how their tasks support the goals of the project as well as the other team members.

 

The job of the Development Manager can best be encapsulated by two terms -  Project Strategy and Project Management.

 

Project Strategy: The Development Manger assesses the combination of professions and skills that are required for a specific project. In addition to identifying, recommending, and retaining Architects, Designers, Engineers, and Contractors, the Development Manger assists the Owner in identifying and adding specialty consultants to the project team when needed.

 

Project Management: The Development Manger facilitates the efforts of the project team, directing the efforts of the individual specialists required to produce the project, providing managerial oversight of the design and construction process itself, and defining the individual tasks that must be completed in the proper time and sequence.

 

In closing, the art of development requires introducing technical expertise when it matters most to help an ownership team make decisions. That requires a surprising array of skills: legal, finance, design, construction, marketing, management, organizational design and, (often) psychology. Understanding this, a sophisticated in-house project leader will supplement his or her own expertise with a firm that has professional knowledge and experience in all these areas: A Development Manager.

 

May 02

2017

The Groundwork for Camden’s Revival

All of this work helped us believe. Read more about other early believers from The Philadelphia Business Journal piece on what laid the groundwork for Camden’s revival.

Apr 27

2017

CRE Member Spotlight on Jackie Buhn

The Councelors of Real Estate (CRE) highlight one member a month to display the diverse expertise, experience, accomplishment and personality found within the incomparable CRE member network. This month the focus is on Jackie Buhn.

“I’m proud of our vision and expertise in hands-on construction and management along with strategic planning and financial structuring,” Jackie says.

Read the full Member Spotlight.

Apr 27

2017

Sixers Facility Selected as Finalist for ULI Philadelphia Awards for Excellence

The Sixers Practice Facility and Home Office Building   has been selected as a finalist for Urban Land Institute’s Philadelphia Awards for Excellence. The Camden, NJ project was completed earlier this year.

Projects must meet ULI’s mission to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide; achieve excellence in the use of best practices; demonstrate quality planning and design; incorporate elements that build healthy places (ULI’s global theme); promote environmental sustainability and energy reduction; achieve economic success and market acceptance; and meet community needs.

The ULI Philadelphia Awards for Excellence honor the legacy of Willard G. “Bill” Rouse III, civic leader, developer, and a founder of ULI Philadelphia, with a long-term commitment from Liberty Property Trust.

Winners will be announced June 14,

Feb 12

2017

Preserving the Past while Building the Future in Philadelphia

 

In January, The Urban Land Institute Philadelphia hosted a  panel discussion titled “Preserving the Past and Building the Future” at Villanova University. Jackie Buhn was on the panel and talked about the process of applying for federal historic tax credits, which are available for properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places or contributing properties in a historic district. Read the full article on the panel from Urban Land Magazine here.

Jan 30

2017

AthenianRazak Supports The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia

AthenianRazak has made a $10,000 donation to the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia. Why? They believe excellent schools and a quality education are key to the survival and growth of the city.  Our future depends on the resources made available to kids today. The Fund for The School District of Philadelphia makes sure all students have access to the right kinds of reading resources. Donations such as this help to establish libraries in every K-3 classroom in the District helping to ensure students have what they need, in their classrooms, to read at grade level by the fourth grade and setting them up to succeed in school and in life.