COVID-19 Impact on Real Estate Markets

COMMENTATOR: Adam Mullen, Market Leader for the Greater Philadelphia Region, CBRE

While the full impact of the global health emergency that is COVID-19 continues to unfold, the effects of this pandemic across the commercial real estate community is being felt in notable ways.  Some commercial asset classes will fare better than expected, while others will be significantly impacted in the short-term.

Industry opportunities and challenges are taking root now, and not surprisingly, hospitality and most retail are taking a hit, while the industrial sector is expected to maintain and perhaps even grow.  Here is an early snapshot based on what we know today.

INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC OUTLOOK

Office leasing will slow in the short term, vacancy will rise, and demand will increase for agile workplace offerings. The greatest impact will come in markets with a high concentration of oil & gas and travel & leisure jobs. There is less new office construction in this cycle, which will aid the sector’s recovery.

The economic slowdown will negatively affect most retail, especially retailers and centers already struggling to compete with e-commerce. There is resilience and strength in grocery-anchored and pharmacy-anchored centers. The eventual removal of social-distancing requirements might cause a surge in pent-up demand.

Industrial & Logistics will see a short-term slowdown in leasing, but rents will hold steady. The sector will be a net beneficiary due to strong e-commerce growth and retailers diversifying their supply chains.

Strong demand endures for multifamily assets. Pressure will emerge for most property types due to job losses and resulting economic hardship.

Hotel revenue will decline by an average of 37 percent for 2020, with a recovery beginning in 2021. The impact will be greatest in gateway cities with substantial tourism and convention business. Some hotels may be converted to uses as medical and quarantine facilities.

Overall, transaction volumes for commercial real estate are declining, bidding pools are smaller, and sellers are delaying bringing assets to market.  Repricing asks have increased as have deals that have fallen out of contract.

Looking Ahead

The economic fallout across the country and in most regions of the world is and will continue to be significant, balanced by what is expected to be a strong recovery in the U.S. A global recession has likely already started, and the U.S. also is expected to endure a recession, with GDP declines in the first and second quarter. CBRE sees the U.S. economy stabilizing in the third quarter, starting to recover in the fourth, and growing at stronger rates in 2021 due to pent-up demand.

We also foresee unemployment rising to above 6 percent from 3.5 percent by mid-year, registering a loss of as much as 8 million jobs.  However, the federal stimulus package of $2 trillion or more and the associated liquidity support will prevent worst-case economic scenarios from happening and will help underpin the recovery.

While debt financing remains available, it is constrained and will remain so until stimulus programs are approved, implemented and begin to gain traction.  Government-sponsored entities (Fannie and Freddie), banks and life-insurance lenders generally have ample capital with minimum interest-rate floors or higher spreads. CMBS and debt funds are under duress; some have exited while others are repricing.

Based on the length and success of the containment activities, this outlook may change and we at CBRE continue to stay focused on the overall impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the commercial real estate industry.

CBRE is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm. Based in Philadelphia, Adam Mullen leads CBRE’s Greater Philadelphia Market. [email protected]

UPS Opening a Facility on a Keystone Opportunity Zone

The United Parcel Service (UPS) announced in February that it will build a million-square-foot warehouse facility in northeast Philadelphia. The new facility is expected to employ 1,000 and will hire 352 full-time workers by 2022.

The 138-acre site is one of the largest industrial properties in the city and is known as the former Budd Co. property. The location is also a city and state Keystone Opportunity Zone. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf shared plans to provide approximately $9 million in public training and incentive funds to UPS.

This expansion is a part of a large development project to expand facilities in Philadelphia County and three other Pennsylvania counties, including a “super hub” in Harrisburg.

The overall expansion will create more than 1,700 full-time jobs and be valuable in market accessibility for businesses in the region.

The digital convenience retailer, GoPuff, has also chosen to expand operations throughout Greater Philadelphia. In late 2018, GoPuff opened a $4 million 30,000-square-foot headquarters in Philadelphia and added 10 new warehouses throughout Pennsylvania.

Coatesville, PA Aircraft Plant is Building Presidential Helicopters

Six VH-92A Presidential Helicopters will be built in Coatesville, PA as a part of a $470 million Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program.

The project was awarded to Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company. Sikorsky is headquartered in Connecticut and has plants throughout the East coast.

Sikorsky entered into a contract with the U.S. Navy to build the helicopters and is expected to complete all six by the end of 2022.

This project is a major win for the local economy with early 36 percent of the project will be completed at the Coatesville plant. The helicopters will be sent to other locations throughout the country and the project will be completed in Stratford, Connecticut.

Last summer, Eastern Air Lines relocated its headquarters from North Carolina to an approximately 18,000 square-foot space in Wayne, Pennsylvania. The region continues to be chosen as the premier location for major projects and companies looking to relocate.

Young Entrepreneurs Are More Likely to Start a Business in Greater Philadelphia

Philadelphia ranked the third U.S. city for a low cost of living, an abundance of highly-skilled talent, and young entrepreneurs. Last year, Philadelphia ranked 11th on this list, a sign of major growth for our region.

LendingTree found that the average age of entrepreneurs in Philadelphia is slightly younger than 38 years old. Whereas other major U.S. cities, such as Boston (#10), New York City (#16), and Los Angeles (#40), attract entrepreneurs slightly older at 39 to 40 years old.

The study found that younger entrepreneurs are attracted to cities with a lower cost of living.

“Older entrepreneurs may have higher returns, but younger founders are willing to try new things,” said Derek Miller, a research analyst at LendingTree. “That can lead to breakthroughs and culturally defining businesses.”

In Philadelphia, the cost of living is approximately $2,700 cheaper than San Francesco, CA (#38), the Silicon Valley capital.

“There’s always a risk for an entrepreneur,” said Miller. “But when the cost of living isn’t as high, many young people are willing to take that risk.”

The world-class universities and colleges in Greater Philadelphia also create a rich talent pool of young entrepreneurs.

Last month, Drexel University announced a partnership with DXC Technology to open a new AI studio on Drexel’s campus. The partnership is expected to attract and retain top talent to the Greater Philadelphia region.

Greater Philadelphia Named the “Cradle of Cures”

Earlier this month, Amicus Therapeutics opened its new $25 million Global Research and Gene Therapy Center in West Philadelphia’s uCity Square neighborhood.

The new 75,000-square-foot facility occupies the top three floors of 3675 Market Street and features an open-space design with state-of-the-art labs and offices.

“Philadelphia is a magnet for talent in gene therapy and an engine for innovation,” said John F. Crowley, Chairman and CEO of Amicus. “This new global research center located in the ‘cradle of liberty’ will become part of the ‘cradle of cures’ as we move many gene therapy programs forward toward patients in need.”

In the next few years, Amicus expects to grow its staff to over 200 researchers.

Amicus partnered with the University of Pennsylvania in 2019 to gain exclusive global rights to develop possible treatments for 50 rare diseases in collaboration with Penn’s Next Generation Gene Therapy Technologies from the Wilson Lab. This partnership with Penn combined with its expansion in uCity Square allows Amicus to grow its research capabilities.

Amicus continues to focus on discovering, developing, and delivering medicines for people living with rare metabolic diseases. During 2019 BIO, Amicus’ President and COO, Bradley Campbell, said the company chose to operate in Philadelphia because of the innovation, entrepreneurship, and universities here.

New to the Region Spotlight: Sanborn, Head & Associates

Commentator: Michael Nicoloro, Senior Vice President, Sanborn, Head & Associates

Tell us about Sanborn, Head & Associates.

Sanborn, Head & Associates (Sanborn Head) was founded in New England in 1993 as an engineering consulting firm that applied its technical expertise to help clients solve geotechnical and environmental engineering challenges that are associated with urban development, active industrial and manufacturing facilities, and solid waste facilities such as landfills.

Over the past ten years, Sanborn Head has developed an Energy Practice that has quickly been established as a leader in the natural gas infrastructure design space, particularly due to our expertise with liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) engineering design services.

Where is your new office located?

We are located on 100 North 18th Street, Suite 300, Philadelphia, PA 19103. This is a springboard location as we build out our team with the goal of settling on a permanent location in Philadelphia.

How many employees are located there?

We are targeting an office size of 10 employees within a three-year window. Our intention is to serve local clients by providing the full range of services we offer.

What drove your decision to expand in Greater Philadelphia?

Philadelphia emerged as an attractive market given the mix of energy and environmental services, we have expertise in. With its robust industrial and manufacturing past, location at the confluence of many exciting energy-related developments, such as the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation, and relative proximity to other major markets within the Northeast Corridor, it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

As a first step, Sanborn Head engaged the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia as a partner for this expansion and quickly found it to be a fruitful strategic relationship, particularly through our involvement in the Greater Philadelphia Energy Action Team (GPEAT). Though all our services have found a niche for expansion in the region, the primary driver of this expansion has been our specialized LNG and CNG engineering practice.

If there is one thing that the local business community can do to help ensure your continued success in this market, what would that be?

Support natural gas initiatives. It’s a need not a want. Without it as part of our energy portfolio, society will be subjected to a quality of life that is less than what we have today.

 

Listen

Check out a recent episode of Growing Greater featuring Mike Nicoloro of Sanborn Head & Associates. Mike explains what makes the energy landscape in this region unique and where the future of energy is heading.

 

Contact
Michael Nicoloro, Senior Vice President, Sanborn, Head & Associates
[email protected]
(617) 605-4839

New Development Coming to uCity Square

Development for One uCity Square officially broke ground in late January and is expected to finish by the end of 2021. The University City Science Center, Ventas Inc., and Wexford Science and Technology have partnered to create the $280 million, 400,000-square-foot building.

Developers fully expect that the new building will be in high demand once completed.

“We feel very bullish on the market and our ability to fill this building,” said Joseph Reagan Jr., senior vice president of Wexford Science and Technology. “We didn’t want to have a situation where we have demand and no place to put people.”

One uCity Square will have lab and office space, ground-floor retail, a full-service restaurant, a lobby, and gathering spaces with rent close to or exceeding $50 per square foot. A new 45,000-square-foot public park will also be adjacent to the uCity Square building and a new 460-unit apartment building will be nearby.

In October of 2019, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News listed Greater Philadelphia on the top 10 biotech hubs throughout the country. The ranking was based on multiple factors including the One uCity Square building that is expected to attract more life sciences companies to our region.

The Region’s Life Sciences Sector Continues to Expand

The Discovery Labs announced a massive addition to its 1.6 million-square-foot life sciences campus in King of Prussia, PA. The company will build a $1.1 billion, 680,000-square-foot development and manufacturing facility as a part of a joint venture with New York-based Deerfield Management.

The addition to The Discovery Labs campus will be known as the Center for Breakthrough Medicines, making The Discovery Labs the largest contract development and manufacturing organization in the world.

This development comes from the understanding that the cell and gene therapy companies expanding in Greater Philadelphia need more manufacturing capabilities to grow.

“What’s great about the King of Prussia location and the region, not just from the perspective of talent, is we’re very close to Europe on the East Coast,” Discovery Labs Executive Managing Director Audrey Greenberg said. “So we’ll be able to supply viral vectors and plasmids to much of the U.S., Europe and possibly even Asia Pacific, South America, and the Middle East.”

After the addition is completed, The Discovery Labs is expected to employ 2,000 people.

Listen to a recent Growing Greater podcast featuring entrepreneur and real estate developer Brian O’Neill who is re-imaging the space The Discovery Labs is located on as a fully integrated environment for Big Pharma, emerging biotech start-ups, high tech companies, venture capitalists, and more to cohabitate under one roof.

Rowan University Awarded for Use of New Technologies

An international technology and marketing company, IDG, honored Rowan University with a 2020 FutureEdge 50 Award for the university’s use of new technologies. In recent years, Rowan transformed its data analytics program to be accessible and usable by employees at all levels.

Rowan’s data analytics program, led by the Division of Information Resources & Technology (IRT), has effectively and efficiently attracted and retained students. IRT has been successful in doing so through its partnership with the Division of Student Affairs to create models that predicted student enrollment at the university.

“The FutureEdge 50 Award recognizes my team’s exceptional work in developing tools that allow for meaningful and timely data analysis throughout Rowan University,” said Dr. Mira Lalovic-Hand, Senior VP of IRT and Chief Information Officer. “These tools, techniques, and methodologies have helped drive increases in applications, enrollment, and student body diversity.”

The FutureEdge 50 Award is presented by IDG’s CIO Executive Council and recognizes organizations that are innovating new technologies to advance their business for the future.

In December, Rowan was awarded a $100,000 grant by the New Jersey State Board of Public Utilities to study expanding electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure in local underserved communities. Rowan continues to lead initiatives that grow our region’s innovation economy.

The Reimagining of an Opportunity Zone in Wilmington, Delaware

Washington Place Equities of Baltimore has announced plans to build apartments in South Wilmington, Delaware. This $32 million development project will be the first of its type in years for the Southbridge neighborhood.

By mid-2021, the developer expects to have 150-units open and 300 more units shortly after.

The Vice President of Washington Place Equities, Dominic Wiker said the area will appeal to “people looking for a different type of location.” The property, which is in an opportunity zone, is close to the city’s train station, to the river’s edge, and to what will be the area’s newest park.

Wiker and his company were interested in this location because he foresees growth in Wilmington and cities in southcentral Pennsylvania, which he referred to as “middle-market-cities.”

Development projects continue to pop up in Wilmington, Delaware throughout the years. In February of 2018, Wilmington’s historic Hotel DuPont received $400,000 in renovations in an effort to attract more travelers to the region.