Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal — Shopping Centers — September 27 - October 10, 2013 — 9C


R etail S eRviceS & icSc H igHligHtS By Steven H. Gartner, Metro Commercial Real Estate ICSC returning to Philidelphia September, 2014


for 2013-2014. After the frenzied boom of the last decade (has it already been that long?) and the star- tling halt of expanding retailers and new development in 2008, the retail real estate industry continues to claw out of the hole we found ourselves in. On the development side, we are see- ing several new projects under way or being contemplated. As had been Metro Commercial’s forte, and continues to be, we are leasing many of these projects after advising the developers of the “new reality” and the retailers that may fill a new project. Geographically,

suburban projects in the dense and affluent areas are gaining some traction, whereas the exurbs still need time for the residential population growth to regain a foothold to support new stores. After all, what merchant wouldn’t want dense and affluent? Within the limits of the city of Philadelphia, the neighborhoods such as North- east and South Philadelphia are not experiencing much in development on the drawing boards, but it’s not for lack of demand; it’s primarily for lack of adequate sites and the cost of land acquisition and construction.

Closer into Center City, the outer ring is experiencing a continued boom of residen- tial construction and reha- bilitation, which is spurring a restaurant and local retail boom in neighborhoods such as Fairmount, Fishtown, and Passayunk Avenue. These are fast becoming some of the most eclectic and diverse retail areas, and even starting to at- tract the interest of ambitious national merchants. In the heart of Center City, the high-demand Rittenhouse Row streets of Chestnut and Walnut are primarily fully- leased, with more retailers

seeking sites than there are vacancies. Unfortu- nately, the geography does not grow beyond a few choice blocks. With the continuing growth of high- rise residences, this may change. The story for 2014 and beyond may certainly be retail on Market Street West and beyond. Steven H. Gartner is president of Metro Com- mercial Real Estate, Inc. and a former state di- rector of International Council of Shopping Cen- ters (ICSC) for PA, nJ, and DE n

e’ve just concluded the Philadelphia ICSC in Atlantic

Ci t y, New Jersey f or the second consecutive year. Thank- f u l l y, I ’ ve b e e n t o l d that it will be returning to its right-

Steven Gartner

ful home in Center City Phila- delphia next September, so we can again showcase all that is great in our booming downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. Actually, the official title of the confab is the PA/NJ/DE ICSC “Idea Exchange”, which in its base components, truly defines the retail real estate industry in this region, and in 2013. Ours is a regional business, and at Metro Commercial Real Estate, we mirror that with a focus not solely on, say Center City or solely on a nar- row property category within retail. Retailers, restaurants, and other users of visited real estate mostly look at how to penetrate and conquer this entire area, still the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the nation. They may start with a downtown loca- tion because of prominence and visibility, but they usu- ally quickly want additional units in the Main Line, King of Prussia, South Jersey, Princeton, and perhaps Wilm- ington. While there are niche owners of properties solely in Center City, many eventually venture into the surrounding and booming neighborhoods around it, say in Port Rich- mond, Fishtown, Northern Liberties, South Philadelphia, and the tony areas of Chest- nut Hill and Mount Airy. Shopping center owners in the region are rarely relegated to narrow geography, as most will own strips in far-flung reaches of the region and not just in one place. The “Idea Exchange” for me is a exactly that, an opportu- nity to reconnect with people that we might only see in-per- son once a year and exchange ideas, who’s doing what and who’s not. It affords me the opportunity to get some high- er-altitude perspectives on our industry, where it’s been, but most importantly where it’s heading. So here it comes, the What’s Hot / What’s Not

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