Center City Philadelphia Showing Signs Of Weakness

English: Comcast Tower, tallest building in Ph...

English: Comcast Tower, tallest building in Philadelphia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Center City, Philadelphia’s engine for growth for the last decade or more, is showing signs of distress, according to statistics compiled by the Center City District for its annual “State of Center City” report.

From office rental rates to visits to tourist attractions and the number of major conventions on the horizon, a variety of measures of the health of the city’s core suggest it might not be quite as vibrant as hoped.

For instance, while Center City’s population inches higher, office rental rates run stubbornly below national averages, an indication of a city’s weakness in attracting new employers.

Employment in health care and education – the city’s biggest job creators – has been flattening and, in the first time in a decade, declined in 2013.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140423_Some_concerns_as_it_regards_Center_City_s_growth.html#wfR2CIQSqRKdLfKs.99

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Buzz Builds On Another Comcast Tower

English: Comcast Tower, tallest building in Ph...

English: Comcast Tower, tallest building in Philadelphia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Comcast Corp., which runs its growing media empire from Philadelphia’s tallest skyscraper, is considering building at least one new tower in Center City and is working with the prominent British architect Norman Foster, according to sources in the city’s real estate community.

Details about Comcast’s expansion plans are being kept under tight wraps, but the company appears to be focusing on constructing the first of several towers on a long, skinny, 1.5-acre site at 18th and Arch Streets, a block west of the Comcast Center. That building could eventually be part of a vertical campus including towers at 19th Street and Arch, and 18th and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

All three sites are controlled by Liberty Property Trust, which completed Comcast’s sleek, 975-foot headquarters just six years ago.

Since then, Comcast has grown enormously.  With its acquisition of NBCUniversal and its move into new digital products, Comcast has filled virtually all 1.2 million square feet in its glass obelisk and needs more office space for its expanding workforce.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20130913_Buzz_builds_on_another_Comcast_tower.html#gAFItxjofzd2oxPB.99

Downtown Wilkes-Barre Putting On A New Face

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The loud purple facade of the former Flaming Star Tattoos shop will soon be toned down to fit in with the downtown Wilkes-Barre neighborhood’s historical character — a subtle yet significant sign of once-shuttered storefronts being renovated or reopened around the theater complex.

It wasn’t just the color that unsettled city officials who saw the potential for the shop’s row of old architecture on South Main Street. It was the way the vibrant hue stopped midway up the building in an uneven line, accentuating the unfinished progress of the paint job and much of the neighborhood.

“One of the first things the new owners will do is repaint that facade,” said attorney William Vinsko, who bought the building at a Luzerne County back-tax auction for $33,000 last week on behalf of private clients who will be identified when the deed is recorded.  The buyers plan to renovate the property at 86 S. Main St. to attract tenants, Vinsko said.

Next door, Joseph and Pamela Masi are redoing the facade and interior of their property, which previously housed Topper’s topless bar, Vinsko said.  The Masis, who purchased the property for $85,000 in 2010, have added an ice cream shop at the rear of the property.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/462842/Putting-on-a-new-face

PhillyInc: Philadelphia Has Gained Much, But Not Jobs

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several macrotrends have broken Philadelphia’s way:  The city’s population is growing again.  Residential building is up, and the city has seen an influx of college-educated young adults over the last decade.

But one trend remains stubbornly negative, as three recent research reports make clear: The city continues to lose jobs. The latest such evidence was included in the Center City District’s “State of Center City, 2013″ report, released Monday.

The special-services district can rightly brag about the increased vibrancy in the area wedged between the rivers and Vine and Pine Streets.  The city is cleaner since 1990, serious crime is down, and the churn in retail stores and restaurants is source of small-business strength.

Employment, though, remains a weakness, and if the long-term trend of job destruction does not change, it’s hard to imagine that the city could continue to maintain momentum in other areas.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/business/columnists/20130423_PhillyInc__Philadelphia_has_gained_much__but_not_jobs.html

Oxford Development Co. Still In Talks With Possible High-Rise Tenants In Downtown Pittsburgh

English: Downtown Pittsburgh

English: Downtown Pittsburgh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another deadline will come and go without a decision by Oxford Development Co. on whether to build a 33-story skyscraper on Smithfield Street or renovate an existing building there.

Oxford initially had hoped to decide by the end of 2012 before extending the time frame to Sunday, the end of the first quarter.

While Shawn Fox, director of business development for the company, acknowledged that the firm probably won’t meet that deadline either, he added that Oxford is closing in on a decision.

“It’s not going to go that far into the future,” he said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/oxford-development-co-still-in-talks-with-possible-high-rise-tenants-in-downtown-pittsburgh-681417/#ixzz2P2GZ6Up6

N.J. Company Proposes Spring Ridge Hotel

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A New Jersey development company wants to build a 111-room hotel on Meridian Boulevard in Spring Township’s Spring Ridge development.

AVA Development Co. of Parsippany hopes to buy 4½ acres for a three-story Fairfield Inn & Suites from BPG Properties of Philadelphia.

AVA won’t buy the property unless BPG gets township approval for the project.  The 576-acre Spring Ridge is a planned residential development that allows office uses but not hotels.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=443766

Natural Gas Boom Fuels U.S. Office Market

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bloomberg — Leasing demand from natural-gas and other energy companies is helping to bolster the U.S. office market and drive growth in cities such as Pittsburgh, where rents are at their highest in more than a decade.

Greater Pittsburgh, along with Houston and other cities with concentrations of energy-related workers, is outpacing national growth in rents and occupancy, according to a report today from Reis Inc., which showed U.S. office landlords had net gains in leased space for a second year in 2012, following three years of declines.  Tenants in energy, along with technology, helped push the national vacancy rate to a three-year low.

In the fourth quarter, greater Pittsburgh office rents after landlord concessions climbed 1 percent from the previous three months, compared with 0.8 percent for the U.S., while the area’s vacancy rate held at 15.5 percent, below the national average of 17.1 percent, New York-based Reis said. Pittsburgh tenants paid an average of $17.68 a square foot in the fourth quarter, the highest since 2000, ranking it 12th out of 79 markets for growth.  In Houston, effective rents rose 1.7 percent, the fifth-most nationwide.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-energy-office-market-20130107,0,3658617.story

Praise For King Street Proposal In Lancaster

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lancaster, Pa. – With recently renovated retail, office space and apartments across the street and a 466-space parking garage next door, Eric Nordstrom thinks the future is bright for 160 E. King St.

Nordstrom’s Geten LLC purchased the former television and appliance store in December.

After extensive renovations, he plans to lease the space to a restaurant or retail tenant before next spring.  The upper floors of the three-story building will be renovated into office space.

Nordstrom’s plans earned praise Monday from the city’s Historical Architectural Review Board.  The board will recommend City Council approval next Tuesday.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/681570_Praise-for-King-Street-proposal.html#ixzz1zakxeGAZ

Company Unveils Reading Outlet Center Building Plans

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

Image via Wikipedia

The company that bought the huge No. 1 building at the Reading Outlet Center gave the city a first glimpse Thursday of its plans.

Those include business and commercial space on the first floor, about 150 market-rate apartments on the second through fourth floors and penthouse office space on the top floor of the building at Ninth and Douglas streets.

They also include razing the northwest corner of the block-sized building to erect an attached parking garage with more than 250 spaces, an interior courtyard with playground equipment, lighting and fountains, and security guards monitoring the entire complex.

“Our plan was well received and we are excited to move forward,” said Bill Hynes, a Nazareth, Northampton County-based real estate developer who’s part of Think Loud Development.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/

$65 Million Mixed-Use Community Planned For Phoenixville

PHOENIXVILLE — The long-abandoned Phoenix Steel parcel on Bridge Street is about to be redeveloped into a $65 million mixed-use community by O Creek Associates.

The proposed Shoppes at French Creek will be made up of 80,000 square feet of retail, 275 apartments and 30,000 square feet of office space on seven acres that was once Phoenix Steel’s parcel O, hence the name of the development company.

“It will be a place to live, work and hang out,” said developer Manny DeMutis, the managing partner of O Creek Associates, a private equity group…

To read the entire article from the Daily Local, click here:

http://business-news.thestreet.com/daily-local-news/story/mixed-use-development-moving-forward-phoenixville-video-0/1

Downtown Pittsburgh – A Landlord Market As Occupancy Rates And Rents Soar

U.S. Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh, Penns...

Image via Wikipedia

Downtown Pittsburgh skyscrapers are filling up fast.  Occupancy rate in many buildings is in the 90 percent range.  This is a drastic change from a few years ago when many buildings had high vacancy rates.  Owners were making deals with tenants to keep them.

Now landlords are naming their price and tenants are willing to pay the asking rates.  Several large buildings have come off the market after investors decided they could not reinvest anywhere else and get a better return than in downtown Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh, New York and San Francisco had the largest increases in average office rents in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The Gateway Center Complex (four buildings) was recently taken off the market as well as the 32-story EQT Tower.  The owners decided retaining ownership was in their best interest given Pittsburgh’s bullish market.

Eleven Stanwix Street has gone from a 50 percent to a 94 percent occupancy rate.  The building is now up for sale but the owner is still receiving calls to lease space.  The Oliver Building and the Regional Enterprise Tower are also for sale.  The USX Tower (Pittsburgh’s tallest building at 64-stories) is in the process of being sold and has reached a tentative agreement with the new group of investors.  The purchase price is around $250 million according to the Wall Street Journal.

As occupancy rates climb and office space becomes scare, tenants are willing to pay higher rates to be in a full building (which is characterized as being in the upper 80 to lower 90 percentage leased category).