Author Archives: Rob Felber

New life for long vacant department store gem

xtraNewark

Reprinted from Shopping Centers Today 

For three decades the once-grand former department store stood empty. But a team of developers has restored and converted the 400,000-square-foot Hahne & Co. building, in downtown Newark, N.J., into a mixed-use project with the city’s first Whole Foods store and 75,000 additional square feet for retail.

The renovated building also features an arts-and-culture center operated by Rutgers University–Newark, plus 160 new apartments — 64 of which are set aside for low-income and working families. The new homes are located on the third and fourth floors of the existing building and also in a new, nine-story residential building on the corner of New and Halsey streets, which will connect to the Hahne building through a shared lobby and public atrium. Chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson has plans to open a 2,250-square-foot restaurant in another part of the building.

The Hahne & Co. department store was designed by Goldwin Starrett and built by local businessman Julius Hahne in 1901. It was the first commercial building in Newark designed specifically as a department store. The art-deco store was the company’s flagship and boasted a spectacular four-story atrium in the center of the building. In 1987 Hahne was sold to May Department Stores Co., owner of Lord & Taylor, and the building has remained vacant since then.

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. The restoration preserved key elements of the structure, including the facade, the original signage and the expansive skylight. This skylight was dismantled, fully restored and reinstalled in the new retail arcade as a nod to the department store’s dramatic former shopping atrium.

The $174 million renovation was financed through a partnership of public, nonprofit and private groups, including sizable commitments from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. Private equity was provided by L&M Development Partners, Prudential and Goldman Sachs, and debt was provided by Citi Community Capital, Morgan Stanley and three nonprofit community development financial institutions: New Jersey Community Capital, the Low-Income Investment Fund and The Reinvestment Fund. Beyer Blinder Belle, a New York City firm specializing in historic preservation, was lead architect. New Jersey–based Inglese Architecture & Engineering provided architecture, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and construction administration services.

Read the full article here

Developers Are Turning Rust Belt Hulks into Luxury Hotels

Reprinted from National Real Estate Investor

(Bloomberg)—Covington, Ky., a city of 40,000 across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, seems like an odd place for a high-end hotel. For Mario Tricoci, that’s a selling point.

Last year, the Chicago developer hooked up with a local real estate investor on a $22 million retrofit of a century-old, seven-story, defunct Covington department store that locals say was the first skyscraper in Kentucky made of reinforced concrete.

Tricoci, chief executive officer of Aparium Hotel Group, is in the middle of a small-market spree that started with the conversions of a Milwaukee warehouse in 2013 and a La Crosse, Wisc., chocolate factory in 2015. Aparium has hotels taking shape in a former warehouse for tractors and other farm equipment in Minneapolis, an old fire department headquarters in Detroit, and an obsolete bottling plant for Pabst Brewing in Kansas City. By the time he’s done, Tricoci said, the company could be operating 20 hotels, or more, with a focus on small cities that are nonetheless big enough to have a pro sports team.

The idea is to grab hold of two dovetailing trends: consumers shying away from branded offerings and investors putting money into smaller U.S. cities, encouraged by local economic development types and a diverse set of national cheerleaders. They include AOL co-founder Steve Case, who has been banging the drum for technology startups in minor markets, and commercial real estate firms touting “18-hour cities” on the theory that traditional markets such as New York and San Francisco have become too expensive.

“Coming out of the recession, it felt like a safer environment to play in,” said Tricoci, 44, whose previous company built the Elysian Hotel in Chicago, a five-star offering that opened in 2009 and was later rebranded as a Waldorf Astoria.

While the room rates are cheaper—Tricoci estimates that a $200 suite at his Charmant Hotel in La Crosse would go for $700 a night in New York—the dearth of competition has helped keep Aparium’s early properties busy.

“Every one of these markets has wealthy people who eat and drink and spend money,” he said. “They have major businesses with spending accounts and stipends.”

Aparium isn’t the first hotel operator lured to the rehab business by the prospect of cheap buildings with good bones. The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia sits in a domed Beaux Arts building that was put up as a bank headquarters. The Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel, a Marriott property, occupies a 1906 building commissioned by Henry Phipps, a partner in Carnegie Steel. Kimpton Hotels has a line, called Hotel Monaco, dedicated to the adaptive reuse of historic buildings. Drury Hotels has put beds in an old fur-trading building in St. Louis and a former education department building in Cleveland.

Read the full story at here.

 

 

America’s abandoned factories in hot demand

Reprinted from money.cnn.com

There’s a love affair happening with an unlikely type of real estate: America’s empty factories and warehouses.

americas-demand-for-abandoned-propertiesVacant commercial spaces are in high demand as both startups and multinationals look for facilities to house their U.S. operations.

Several factors are driving this trend, according to Stuart Lichter, president of Industrial Reality Group, one of the largest owners of U.S. commercial real estate.

Many U.S. companies, which had moved their operations overseas to keep costs down, are coming back home to be closer to their customers. On the flip side, foreign companies are also shifting some production to the U.S. to be more competitive and grow their U.S. market.

Meanwhile, some industries that were hit hard by the recession have recovered and are growing.

“Just a few years ago there were many defunct industrial spaces in Detroit,” Lichter said. “A bulk of those are gone as the auto industry recovered.”

Here’s a look at how once abandoned factories and commercial buildings are getting a makeover:

Read the full story at http://money.cnn.com/2016/03/08/smallbusiness/factories-plants-manufacturing/index.html

Creating a Sustainable Footprint in the Changing Retail Landscape

Reprinted from www.gordonbrothers.com

Today’s retailers face unprecedented challenges in the marketplace as they confront the evolution of not only customer shopping patterns, but also how retail is defined. Historically, top tier retailers thrived because they had the best locations and offered desirable merchandise at a great value proposition. Add to that efficient merchandising controls and tight field operations, and it equaled success.

That model has shifted significantly due to the maturation of e-commerce and the effect it has had on brick-and-mortar efficiency in the omnichannel environment. A recent slew of store closures affecting specialty retail demonstrates the impact of this new reality for the retail industry.

Given this trend, retailers are reviewing lease portfolios with a careful eye on the future and their ever declining sales per square foot ratios. Successful management teams are proactively identifying locations that, while today may be marginally profitable or break even, will turn into negative contributors, given this irreversible trend. Historically, the decision to renew or extend leases was based primarily on store contribution and the key demographics of individual locations. Stores with marginal contribution were identified and decisions were made on whether to renegotiate under more favorable terms or close locations.

In the current environment, retailers are now factoring in the real e-commerce effect (in most cases, double-digit increases) and its impact on future store performance, and making real-time decisions on store profitability. As part of this growing trend, retailers are facing more store closings than ever and are accepting them as part of the changing retail landscape. Understanding that closing stores is not indicative of failure, but rather of an inevitable shift toward an omnichannel marketplace, is important to the success of any retailer. While it’s unlikely that brick-and-mortar stores will ever be displaced entirely by e-commerce, management teams must understand the balance between the two and develop a strategy going forward.

When reviewing lease portfolios in today’s environment, management teams must consider several key factors aside from store profitability: adjacencies to other store locations and e-commerce migration.

Given the sophistication of today’s customers and merchants’ ability to track their shopping patterns, either through loyalty programs or mobile devices, retailers can analyze individual markets to determine how much transference would likely occur should they close a location. With this information, retailers can project an appropriate number of stores in each market and identify potential closures. The ability to close a store and effectively transfer customers to an adjacent location and track buying behavior going forward is crucial to success.

While transferring customers from a closing store to an adjacent store is critical, a second and equally important step is transitioning shoppers to the e-commerce platform. In some cases, retailers may be exiting a market entirely for a variety of reasons, but the ability to retain a core percentage of the customer base online is a primary vehicle for growth in today’s marketplace. In virtually every instance, a retailer’s key initiatives are to increase its online presence and protect the brand.

Read more at http://www.gordonbrothers.com/expertise/byline-articles/Sustainable-Footprint#GBALINK=JCR_Retail_Article

Shrinking U.S. Shopping Malls Get Makeover

Reprinted from The Wall Street Journal

Overbuilding, e-commerce force landlords to get creative with new developments

austin-texas-mallVisitors used to flock to the Highland Mall in Austin, Texas, around the holidays to stroll through the city’s first enclosed shopping complex and admire the giant Christmas tree crafted from poinsettia plants.

But this holiday season, no shopping will be done there. Workers are converting the 600,000-square-foot structure into a campus for Austin Community College with classrooms, lab space and a culinary arts center.

Austin’s economy is strong and its population swelling, but Highland couldn’t attract enough shoppers to stay afloat.

“Competition came up and killed it,” said Matt Whelan, principal at developer Red Leaf Properties LLC, which is working with the college on the project.

An era of relentless expansion for American shopping centers is coming to an end as a toxic brew of overbuilding, the rise of e-commerce and a wave of retailer bankruptcies force landlords to reimagine once-lucrative properties.

Some owners are converting struggling malls into apartments, offices and industrial space, while others are turning big chunks of retail space into parks and playgrounds to keep shoppers interested.

To read the full article, visit http://www.wsj.com/articles/shrinking-u-s-shopping-malls-get-makeovers-1448361001

 

 

Grant funds youth violence prevention work in Camden

Reprinted from http://www.courierpostonline.com/

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CAMDEN – What happens when you restore rundown buildings that contribute to violence?

Camden is about to find out.

The Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center has received $6 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue its studies on how improving vacant properties affects violence, property crimes and intentional injuries among youth.

The Michigan center, based at the University of Michigan School of Public Heath, will focus on the effects of engaging residents, particularly youth, in caring for properties in their neighborhoods.

The study will be done in Camden, Flint, Michigan, and Youngstown, Ohio over the span of five years.

Marc Zimmerman, professor of health behavior and health education at University of Michigan, says the study will test a “greening” hypothesis — becoming more active in protecting the environment — and “busy streets theory” — which suggests that by taking care of abandoned, empty lots within inner cities, safer streets will be created.

Read more at http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/local/south-jersey/2015/10/29/grant-funds-youth-violence-prevention-work-camden/74730382/

Detroit’s other blight crisis: Commercial decay

Reprinted from www.freep.com

In Detroit, many residents live and shop near hulking vacant buildings that have been abandoned for years, places that attract crime, vagrants, graffiti and scrappers.

Many of these blighted buildings line well-traveled corridors throughout Detroit’s neighborhoods. But exactly who owns them and why they remain in terrible condition for so long remains a mystery to many.

Standing on her porch on East Outer Drive among a stretch of homes with well-manicured lawns and hedges, Tomika Brown, 41, described the multitude of problems associated with a giant, crumbling building across the street. The building is so rundown its hard to tell how it was originally used.

“It just be a lot of drunks stopping in there, scrapping,” Brown said. “I want to tell (the owner), ‘tear it down; do something with it.’ It’s an eyesore.”

Covered in graffiti, the building has all the classic signs of urban blight. There is practically no fencing around the perimeter, leaving it open to trespass. Brown said the grass had not been cut for about three months. The Free Press contacted the property owner’s lawyer. It was finally mowed sometime on or after Oct. 5, Brown said.

The indistinguishable structure at 3040 E. Outer Drive is among a handful of vacant commercial buildings throughout the city the Free Press examined in an attempt to shed some light on the properties’ prolonged abandonment and the monumental task the city is facing it having owners take responsibility for them.

The analysis underscored the complexity of the city’s commercial blight problem. While much attention has been given to getting rid of city-owned blighted residential structures, including the rising cost under Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration for demolition, little attention has been given to blighted commercial properties, whose ownership ranges from out-of-town speculators to the city itself.

Read more here:

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2015/11/03/commercial-blight-detroit/73600778/

Northeast Ohio Old Malls Rot While New Shopping Centers Sprawl

rolling-acres-atrium-63afbf628e008086

Article Reprinted from www.cleveland.com

Even as vacancy climbs at Northeast Ohio shopping centers, ambitious developers are culling new land in far-out suburbs to build more shopping space.

The rotting malls and town centers residents abandon as they sprawl to newer and farther suburbs become the blight of a region, a recurring cycle of waste that leaves the region pock-marked with empty parking lots and caved in roofs.

By 2000, Northeast Ohio had amassed one of the largest surpluses of retail space in the nation, according to a report by the Cuyahoga County Regional Planning Commission. Even what was once the largest mall in the nation sat half empty in North Randall, development plowed on, at Legacy Village and SouthPark and Crocker Park.

Read the full article at

http://www.cleveland.com/akron/index.ssf/2015/08/the_trash_of_northeast_ohio_ol.html#incart_river

Vacant Property Maintenance & the Importance of Inspections

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Vacant Property Maintenance Planning

Vacant property maintenance is time consuming and tedious. Having an extra property on your hands, especially one located remotely, provides challenges to maintaining your investment. Coordination, repair and proper reporting takes up precious time that you could use to grow your business. At Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP), we’ll inspect and maintain your property so that you can focus on running your business or division.  In this blog, we’ll discuss the key questions you should consider before determining a maintenance plan for your vacant property/properties.

Each of our clients has different property security needs.  These needs are based upon the geographic location of the property, the neighborhood in which it resides, the type of building or facility and the property’s overall condition.

Location, Location, Location

Your once prosperous locations has seen drastic change. That is probably one of the reason you needed to shutter the doors. What can you expect with your property? Properties in neighborhoods with high crime rates may need the following:

  • Graffiti or dumping checks
  • Break-in checks
  • Routine property inspection checks (based upon your needs)
  • Posting of “no trespassing signs”
  • Fencing installation and maintenance
  • Security lighting

Cold Climate

For those properties more exposed to climate change, we recomend regular site checks. This is specifically important during the winter months, when pipes are likely to burst or freeze/thaw impacts the roof. A routine inspection can identify a problem early, saving thousands of dollars of damage. We can work with you to determine the amount of property checks needed.

Utility Management

Many times when properties become vacant, it is easy for clients to let utilities go. We can help you by managing payments. Simply put the utilities in our name. We process the bills and provide accountability and reporting. . The gas is operating and the lights are always on, providing your property with security and protection from elements and other intrusions..

Around-The-Clock Customer Service

At Commercial Asset Preservation, we pride ourselves in our great customer service program. We inspect your property, provide written and visual proof of work completed and detail the problems that need to be addressed. There is someone available around the clock to answer our emergency hotline. Should you have an emergency, around a holiday or even in the middle of the  night, you can get rest assured we’re here to help.  Safety forces can reach us, and receive entry assistance before the need to force entry into your building.

For more information on vacant property maintenance, contact Nancy Carrillo at 407-883-1139 or nancyc@commercialpreservation.com.

Tear it Down Without Ripping Your Brand Apart

deimaging photo

It is every business owner’s worst nightmare. After years of hard work and dedication, one or more of your business locations is closing.  Now you’re left with a vacant building that still has all of your company signage and branding inside and out.  If you still operate in other cities or states, having an ugly looking closed location can hurt your company image and brand. That’s where Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP) comes in. We use a detailed process called De-imaging to remove your brand’s image from the building, including signage, logos, window stickers, paint color, and distinctive construction features that could represent the vacant building as once belonging to your business or franchise.

 What is De-Imaging?

De-imaging, also known as de-branding or de-identification, is the process of removing a company’s image from a building. CAP performs two types of de-imaging: soft de-identification or bagging and full de-branding or de-imaging.

Soft De-Imaging

Soft de-imaging is a smaller scale de-imaging process. Exterior pole and other street signage is covered by our team and posters are removed from all windows and either discarded or stored for future use.  Any brand identifying items, such as menu boards, are covered with tie backs.  This method allows the menu boards and other signage to be used in the future by our clients or a new operator that moves into the building.

Full De-Imaging

Full de-imaging is a much more intensive process than soft de-imaging. The building is essentially converted into a generic looking “shell” through this process. Signage is removed from the pole, menu boards are taken down, and window stickers are detached. If there are any brand-specific features about the building that makes the building identifiable as once being your brand or restaurant, we can correct that for you. For example, one of our client’s properties has a very distinctive roof above the entryway. We took down that portion of the roof and installed a new traditional style roof, so that the vacant building wouldn’t tarnish our client’s brand. We will take into account your specific needs in developing a full de-imaging plan.

Full de-imaging also helps CAP’s clients vacate a building and ensures that the property meets local safety and health requirements. Steps taken to meet these requirements include:

  • Changing locks to all entry doors
  • Installing a lock box
  • Boarding of all windows and glass doors, if required under the lease agreement and/or to prevent vandalism
  • Re-glazing broken windows if boarding is not desired or permitted
  • Repainting the exterior to remove trademarks and color schemes of the former tenant
  • Removing all point-of-purchase elements and trademarks, merchandise, any promotional decals, and other promotional material or merchandising items
  • Properly capping all exposed electrical wiring
  • Properly terminating all utilities
  • Ensuring that all of the interior and exterior (including dumpsters) is free from trash and debris
  • Removing all food, paper and other interior debris from the premises

De-Imaging is great way for you to maintain a strong brand image after a closure or multiple closures throughout your portfolio. For more information on de-imaging, please contact Nancy Carrillo, Vice President & National Sales Executive at 407-883-1139 or nancyc@commercialpreservation.com.