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Winter Weather and Its Impact On Your Business

Winter weather is unpredictable and can have a large impact on your business. While maintaining business operations is always at the forefront of your mind, it is important to consider employee safety as well. You should have policies and procedures in place before bad weather hits so that your company and employees are as prepared as possible.

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Driving in Winter Weather on Company Time

winter weatherA major concern regarding winter weather is employees who drive a company car or vehicle as part of their workday. All vehicles should be given a safety check by a mechanic before the bad weather hits, and they should also be equipped with emergency materials such as a snow scraper, blanket, first aid kit and
flashlight.

In addition, employees should be instructed to dress properly for the weather, including a hat, scarf and gloves, or have extra clothing on hand in case of a breakdown or accident. In order to protect your company against liability, any employees who may drive in bad weather on company time should be trained in safe, cautious driving techniques and what to do in case of an accident. Also consider employees who drive as part of their commute—it may be wise to educate them in cautious winter driving techniques to ensure their safety while driving to and from work.

Employee Pay During Winter Weather

Pay issues arise when weather forces your business to close for any length of time or prevents employees from making it to work even if your business remains open. For non-exempt (typically hourly) employees, you are only required to pay them for the hours they actually work. Thus, if your business opens late, closes early or closes for an entire day, you are not required to pay them for any time missed.

If an exempt (typically salaried) employee works any part of the day, you must pay them for a full day. Similarly, if the business is closed for a day or more but less than a full week, you need to pay exempt employees their normal salary if they worked any part of that week. You do not need to pay employees if business is closed for a full week. This applies whether your company uses a five-day or seven-day workweek. You may, however, require that they use available paid time off or vacation time, if available. If your business remains open but an exempt employee cannot come in due to weather conditions, this is a personal reason, and you do not need to pay them. One option to ease the loss of a business day or any missed productivity is to ask exempt employees to work from home if you are already paying them for the day. You may also consider offering a telecommuting option during inclement weather even if your business remains open so employees can avoid the dangers of driving in the extreme cold or snow.

Be Prepared for Winter Weather

Employees should be informed of your company policies related to inclement weather—safety, attendance and pay-related. You should have an established communication method to inform your employees of a business closing or delay. When bad weather is coming, address all your policies again, remind employees of communication channels to address attendance and plan for the worst potential outcome to ensure your company is prepared for the weather.

Brian Blaston
Commercial Lines – Manager
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955
www.hig.net

Are Letters of Intent a Good Idea?

letters of intentCommercial real estate players use letters of intent (LOIs) or term sheets all the time. Buyers and tenants present offers this way, often to see if a deal can be reached before incurring the costs of negotiating an agreement of sale or a lease (the Definitive Agreement). The key question is whether these agreements are binding or not. The legal principles are fairly easy to state: If the parties intend not to be bound to each other prior to the execution of a Definitive Agreement, the courts will give effect to that intent and the parties will not be bound until the agreement has been fully executed and delivered. This is true even if all issues in the negotiations have been resolved. Conversely, if the parties intend to be bound prior to the execution of a Definitive Agreement, the court will give effect to that intent, and the parties will be bound even though they contemplate replacing their earlier understanding with a later written agreement. Courts have consistently stated that the most important factor in determining whether or which provisions in an LOI are binding is the language used by the parties in the letters of intent themselves.

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Typically, parties draft letters of intent to be partially binding. The letters of intent will contain provisions not intended to be binding and provisions expressly intended to be binding on the parties. The non-binding provisions consist primarily of the “deal points”, such as a description of the key components of a proposed transaction and any important conditions. For an agreement of sale, these include the purchase price, deposit, due diligence period, deal contingencies (e.g. financing, licensing and land use approvals), time for closing and broker payment obligations. For a lease agreement, these include the rental rate, security deposit, tenant allowance, responsibility for repairs and replacements, use and exclusivity terms, brokers and any unique arrangements. The binding provisions focus on the negotiation time period, including access to information, confidentiality, a “no-shop” or exclusivity provision in which the seller or landlord agrees not to sell or lease the subject property to another for a specified period of time, broker representations and protection and non-disclosure (to third parties) obligations. There should be a termination provision and natural end date for the life of the LOI.

The main purpose of typical letters of intent is for the parties to formulate deal points without committing to the actual transaction. Letters of intent provide counsel a blueprint for preparation of the Definitive Agreement, saving time and money. Letters of intent can keep the deal momentum moving forward while negotiating the details of a Definitive Agreement, especially when they contain milestones for delivering a draft and executing a final version. Moreover, an LOI may be necessary for a lender or investor to move to the next step of its process.
However, there are also potential risks in using LOIs. If inartfully drafted, or if the parties act as though they have reached a deal, the LOI may be deemed a binding contract, obligating the parties prematurely.

Further, many courts have found that execution of a letters of intent  creates an obligation for the parties to negotiate, in good faith, a reasonable agreement, which may be an unintended consequence of signing. Another
possible disadvantage of using an LOI is that a party may share the letter with a competing bidder to shop the deal to see if they can get a better offer. Even worse, deal momentum may die while negotiating a trivial LOI provision for a simple transaction that could have gone straight to the Definitive Agreement.

Indeed it is often the case that conceptual agreement on the basic deal points will allow a buyer to prepare
an agreement of sale, without the need to incur the time and expense of negotiating letters of intent. But, for
the complex commercial transaction, an LOI can provide a necessary level of comfort prior to expending significant resources on investigations, inspections, analysis and negotiation of a Definitive Agreement.

If you use letters of intent, be clear and specifically describe the binding provisions, carefully distinguishing them
from the non-binding provisions. If there are no special conditions or complicating factors, go straight to the Definitive Agreement instead of preparing an LOI to avoid unintended consequences, such as a forming a contract or creating an obligation to negotiate in good faith.

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and none of these materials is offered,
nor should be construed, as legal advice or a legal opinion based on any specific facts or circumstances.

Philadelphia Employers, Economy Positioned for Growth In 2019

With trade tensions escalating and interest rates in the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate market on an upward path, economists are increasingly warning the U.S. economy is in danger of slipping into recession in 2020.

While risks of an eventual national economic slowdown in the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – are real and should not be ignored, Philadelphia-focused real estate investors can take comfort the region’s economic indicators are flashing positive signs for 2019 as the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metropolitan area’s job gains have strengthened in recent months to a rate of 1.4 percent year-over-year.

This Co-Star Research report involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties is being made through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

The industries powering Philadelphia’s recent job gains are:

Healthcare: In University City, Penn Medicine is now wrapping up construction on the first phase of its 540,000-sf Center for Healthcare Technology. Meanwhile, work continues at the healthcare giant’s largest capital project ever, the 1.5 million-sf Pavilion Hospital, which is expected to be completed in 2021. AmeriHealth Caritas, AmerisourceBergen and Sparks Therapeutics have all recently announced major Philadelphia-area expansion plans.

Information Technology: Philadelphia-based Comcast is in the process of hiring roughly 1,500 new employees as it staffs its recently completed Comcast Technology Center.

Distribution: Retailers and e-commerce firms have been on a tear building new distribution facilities in the region to expedite delivery times for their East Coast customers. Just weeks ago, Amazon completed a major distribution center in Burlington New Jersey expected to employ 600 people, one of five massive distribution centers Amazon has opened in the metropolitan area since 2013.

Many of Philadelphia’s largest publicly traded companies are flush with cash following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which sliced the U.S. corporate tax rate almost in half. Over the most recent four quarters of business among some of the leading national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties, top local employers – including AmerisourceBergen, Aramark, Comcast, and FMC – reported all-time highs in net operating incomes that more than doubled what had been collected during the preceding four quarters.

While the recent tax cuts affecting U.S. and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings are expected to add at least $1.9 trillion to the federal debt by 2028, according to the Congressional Budget Office, they clearly have boosted companies’ willingness to expand payrolls.

According to data from the world’s third-largest staffing firm, Manpower, the percentage of companies in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metropolitan area planning to increase staffing levels is at the highest levels recorded during this economic expansion. Meanwhile, the percentage of firms in the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – planning to reduce their staff is near rock bottom.

Philadelphia’s employment growth could still decelerate in the quarters ahead despite local companies’ aggressive hiring plans. With the unemployment rate among national and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings now well below 5 percent, employers will likely find it increasingly difficult to fill many open positions.

On the spectrum of economic challenges, this is one of the less-threatening problems to face, in part because a tight labor market also supports above-average wage growth. Still, the dwindling supply of available workers was likely a driving force behind the brief slowdown in job growth that took hold here in 2017.

The stage is set for total employment to continue rising in Philadelphia through 2019. The question is how strong and how sustainable these job gains will be.

For more information about Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space or other Philadelphia commercial properties, please call 215-799-6900 to speak with Jason Wolf (jason.wolf@wolfcre.com) at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a leading Philadelphia commercial real estate broker that specializes in Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a full-service CORFAC International brokerage and advisory firm, is a premier Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm that provides a full range of Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, property management services, and marketing commercial offices, medical properties, industrial properties, land properties, retail buildings and other Philadelphia commercial properties for buyers, tenants, investors and sellers.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate broker with expertise in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, provides unparalleled expertise in matching companies and individuals seeking new Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space with the Philadelphia commercial properties that best meets their needs.

As experts in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, the team at our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm provides ongoing detailed information about Philadelphia commercial properties to our clients and prospects to help them achieve their real estate goals.  If you are looking for Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space for sale or lease, Wolf Commercial Real Estate is the Philadelphia commercial real estate broker you need — a strategic partner who is fully invested in your long-term growth and success.

Please visit our websites for a full listing of South Jersey and Philadelphia commercial properties for lease or sale through our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

Adequate Due Diligence for Commercial Properties

How do you know if you have done Due Diligence for Commercial Properties? I hear statements like the one below all the time. 

“I’m buying a commercial/industrial property; I need a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I ESA)” or “I’m leasing a commercial/ industrial property; I don’t need to worry about performing any due diligence because I’m not purchasing the property”.

But is a Phase I ESA all you need, or is that too much? How much time do you have to perform your due diligence? How much money are you willing to spend? How much risk and potential liability are you willing to accept? These are all questions that you might want to consider as you proceed with your real estate transaction.

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As I’ve discussed in an earlier article, when performing due diligence to obtain innocent purchase protection in New Jersey, one needs to perform both an ASTM Phase I ESA and a Preliminary Assessment (PA). But, is that really all you need as far as your due diligence is concerned? While a Phase I ESA or PA report helps provide protections against certain environmental liabilities, risks, and concerns – specifically, the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or the New Jersey Spill Act, respectively – they don’t protect against all liabilities, risks, and concerns. For example, these assessments typically don’t include an evaluation for the presence of wetlands, asbestos, lead-based paint, or radon. Nor do they include an evaluation of the building’s structural or mechanical condition, an evaluation of the building’s energy use or waste  management efficiency, or whether the facility operations are in current compliance with applicable state or federal regulations and requirements.

It’s important to know which assessments you need, if any, because not all these due diligence concerns are necessarily your due diligence concerns. If you’re only planning on leasing a facility, you may not be interested in determining the structural or mechanical integrity of the building envelope, since that would likely be the responsibility of the landlord. Or, if you’re involved in litigation regarding the site, you may require a review of the historical conditions and regulatory status of the facility, but not necessarily need a comprehensive review of the current condition of the property. Perhaps you only need a limited scope of work now, such as a simple “desktop review”, or a Phase I ESA for refinancing purposes, but you also plan on expanding the facility in the future; in this case, you may need to know if there are any restrictions to building construction, such as the presence of wetlands or engineering limitations at the site. It all depends on what you plan on doing at the site, both now and in the future.

So how do you know if you’re paying too much for a due diligence assessment you don’t necessarily need, or not performing enough due diligence to give you the protection you need and the comfort and peace of mind you expect?

Answer: Find a consultant whom you trust, and who specializes in environmental, engineering, and land use due diligence. Your consultant should be your advocate. Ask questions of your consultant, and expect your consultant to ask questions of you and what your current and future plans are for the property. If you don’t feel comfortable or understand the answers, it may be best to discuss the matter further with other consultants to ensure you’ve made the best choice for your particular needs.

Here at Whitman, we have extensive experience in real estate due diligence. We work on many different types of projects with all types of clients, including individuals and corporations who want to buy a property, investors who want to sell their properties, banks that are overseeing a property refinance, companies that want to expand their operations, facilities that want to assess the efficiency and compliance of their current operations, businesses that want to rent a leasehold, attorneys who require historical information regarding former site operations, and the list goes on.

More than anything, we take pride in our commitment and dedication to our clients’ best interests, and enjoy finding creative solutions for our clients’ challenges. We look forward to helping you attain and then surpass your business goals.

To help you ascertain what level and amount of due diligence you may require, Whitman has designed a simple= “cheat sheet” that summarizes many of our due diligence services, and when you might consider utilizing them.

If you have any questions regarding real estate due diligence, would like a copy of the due diligence cheat sheet, or would like a quote for any of Whitman’s wide selection of due diligence services, please contact Chemmie Sokolic, Whitman’s Director of Due Diligence Services, at 732-390-5858 or csokolic@whitmanco.com.

 

 

Life in the Fast-Food Lane: Restaurants Add Drive-Thrus Across the Country

Jack in the Box Chief Executive Leonard Comma knows his fast-food chain’s sales are dependent on drive-thru lanes. That’s why he said his company is investing as much as $45 million the next three years on digital menu boards and canopies to make the experience faster and more personal.

Quick-service purveyors across the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate market such as Starbucks Corp. and Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. are also changing how they view their real estate by collectively spending tens of millions of dollars to let people eat in their cars as customers increasingly demand speed and convenience.

This Co-Star Research report involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties is being made through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

Drive-thru lanes contribute more than 70 percent of San Diego-based Jack in the Box’s sales, Comma said during a recent earnings call concerning the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space. “They represent a sizable sales opportunity,” he said.

Modern drive-thru technology has been around since the 1940s but came of age in “car-crazy California” in the 1950s, according to the National Museum of American History, which noted that by the 1970s “major fast-food franchises nationwide began to install drive-thru windows.”

The concept has never been more popular.

A study by trade publication QSR Magazine found that most fast-food chains among national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties report about 70 percent of their sales happen at a drive-thru window, saying “the outdoor lane is just as important today to quick-service business as ever before – if not more so.”

Starbucks, which said in its Nov. 1 earnings call that it plans to build 600 new locations across North America in 2019, adding to its roster U.S. and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, is expanding a push it began last summer to equip about 80 percent of all new stores with a drive-thru lane. Many of those won’t have interior seating, resulting in a much smaller store footprint.

Drive-thru, out-the-window and mobile-order-and-pay combined accounted for more than 50 percent of all orders in the U.S. commercial real estate market, including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space, in the past three months, up more than 10 percentage points in two years, Starbucks Chief Financial Officer Rosalind Brewer said.

“Last quarter, our stores with drive-thru well outperformed our café comp,” Brewer said. “This format will be a continued focus into 2019.”

Last summer, Seattle-based Starbucks said sales were 25 percent to 30 percent higher at stores with drive-thru lanes. Competitor Dunkin’ Brands Group, based in Canton, Massachusetts, said the drive-thru restaurants among its national and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings boast 40 percent higher sales volume.

For more information about Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space or other Philadelphia commercial properties, please call 215-799-6900 to speak with Jason Wolf (jason.wolf@wolfcre.com) at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a leading Philadelphia commercial real estate broker that specializes in Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a full-service CORFAC International brokerage and advisory firm, is a premier Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm that provides a full range of Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, property management services, and marketing commercial offices, medical properties, industrial properties, land properties, retail buildings and other Philadelphia commercial properties for buyers, tenants, investors and sellers.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate broker with expertise in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, provides unparalleled expertise in matching companies and individuals seeking new Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space with the Philadelphia commercial properties that best meets their needs.

As experts in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, the team at our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm provides ongoing detailed information about Philadelphia commercial properties to our clients and prospects to help them achieve their real estate goals.  If you are looking for Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space for sale or lease, Wolf Commercial Real Estate is the Philadelphia commercial real estate broker you need — a strategic partner who is fully invested in your long-term growth and success.

Please visit our websites for a full listing of South Jersey and Philadelphia commercial properties for lease or sale through our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

Opportunity Zone Property Sales Up 8 Percent Over Last Year

Investors pumped $2.6 billion more into properties covered by the federal Opportunity Zone tax incentive initiative — an 8 percent increase from the same time last year — even before the Treasury Department released guidelines on the program.

Almost 40,000 properties in the more than 8,760 zones in the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate market have sold this year, according to CoStar data. More than 51,400 properties are being actively marketed for sale, and the release this month of the first round of regulations is expected to amplify that flow of money through the next couple of years.

This report involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties is being made through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

Opportunity Zone investments are a provision of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law last December, deferring or eliminating capital gains taxes for new investments throughout the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – in communities that state and federal officials define as economically distressed. The Treasury worked into October this year to provide regulatory guidelines for the program.

Estimates range widely for the amount of capital that could flow into national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties to take advantage of the tax benefits from investing in properties in these zones and holding onto them for at least 10 years. The federal government calculates the capital flow at $100 billion, while some industry estimates reach as high as $250 billion — and it could go higher if all benefits are factored in.

Not every property in a zone is eligible for tax benefits. To qualify, investment buyers must double the value of the investment in a specific time frame. Many zone properties among U.S. and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, however, are newly constructed or not in need of new development or redevelopment. Nonetheless, these properties could also see an upswing in investment.

Other investors in the U.S. commercial real estate market, including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space, will be pumping money directly into businesses in the opportunity zones –- investments that are also eligible for the tax benefits.

This early activity this year tallied by CoStar may provide a clue to where the expected surge of money could flow into national and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and for what property types. In CoStar’s analysis of this year’s opportunity zone sales, it excluded properties that were part of portfolio sales of $100 million or more, and that were targeting large national or regional portfolios and not specifically opportunity zone properties.

For more information about Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space or other Philadelphia commercial properties, please call 215-799-6900 to speak with Jason Wolf (jason.wolf@wolfcre.com) at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a leading Philadelphia commercial real estate broker that specializes in Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a full-service CORFAC International brokerage and advisory firm, is a premier Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm that provides a full range of Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, property management services, and marketing commercial offices, medical properties, industrial properties, land properties, retail buildings and other Philadelphia commercial properties for buyers, tenants, investors and sellers.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate broker with expertise in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, provides unparalleled expertise in matching companies and individuals seeking new Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space with the Philadelphia commercial properties that best meets their needs.

As experts in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, the team at our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm provides ongoing detailed information about Philadelphia commercial properties to our clients and prospects to help them achieve their real estate goals.  If you are looking for Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space for sale or lease, Wolf Commercial Real Estate is the Philadelphia commercial real estate broker you need — a strategic partner who is fully invested in your long-term growth and success.

Please visit our websites for a full listing of South Jersey and Philadelphia commercial properties for lease or sale through our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

HOME SWEET HOME FOR OFFICE DESIGN – RIGHT HERE AT COFCO

With many of us spending so much time at work, Office Design is changing. Office Design is beginning to look more like our homes. This article takes a look at how Office Design is changing.

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By Dean Molz, VP of Business Development, COFCO

Office DesignWe have seen a tremendous evolution in Office Design in the last 35 years. The freestanding “tank” desk with a typewriter stand was the standard at one point. In came the “cubicle” – a modular wall that provided privacy, and data connectivity. We’ve since seen the cubicle “farm” go by the wayside in favor of open office space. Corner Offices – well moved out of the corner, and the completely “open plan” with non-assigned seats came in vogue. Am I showing my age??

All interesting concepts, with a lot of buzz words.

So, what’s next? According to Jeff Pochepan of StrongProject, Inc., there’s no place like home – unless your office can recreate it. This is an interesting trend, of which you will see signs of at COFCO’s newly renovated Resource Center. It is called close-tohome design.

On average we spend 35% of our waking hours in the office. That’s a lot of time. Therefore, our clients are listening to the wants and needs of their workforce now more than ever. They are also paying attention to what recent graduates are looking for, given the recent influx of millennials in the workforce. This makes for good business, and is a time when we must compete to attract and retain top talent for future generations.

What is it? It’s the simple idea of making your office feel more like home – a place where you are relaxed, have no trouble putting in more hours and feel comfortable doing so. A place that creates a sense of community where you can collaborate with colleagues, work anywhere and in a variety of different types of spaces, based on what you need and want at the moment.

Office DesignThe institutional breakroom has turned into a café. A place where more intimate lighting, restaurant style comfort, and large café’ tables inspire casual conversation. A place to bond, share a meal, and where some of the best inspiration can happen. Maybe the happy hour can come to us, instead of going out to the corner restaurant.

The board room has turned into a living room of sorts. Where more comfortable couches make conversation feel more like friends having a get together, than doing business. This is a space where you may be encouraged to formulate ideas, before they become formal presentations. A place where you enjoy spending time, and can put your feet up.

The office space is more bright, open and collaborative. We are creating a sense of community where you can collaborate, see, talk and mingle with my colleagues. A place where meetings can be simple conversations in the hallway and ideas can come casually and without pretense; where decisions can be made and executed in a flash. It’s about fostering a culture of involvement. The saying “two heads are better than one” has real meaning.

Some common ideas include:

  • Game rooms
  • Yoga rooms (generally in the vicinity of onsite exercise facilities)
  • Food trucks
  • Showers
  • Living room style conversation pits
  • Quiet spaces designed like a study
  • Phone rooms
  • Outdoor spaces

Office DesignHow far should you go?? Your individual culture will determine the answer to that question. Here at COFCO, we have created a sense of relaxed professionalism. This is a perfect blend of comfort, design, collaboration and culture.

Creating this comfort is so intrinsic, that people relax when they enter their workplace. Just like you would when you get home from a long day. We put in longer hours than ever at work now. Technology has allowed us to work “anywhere, and at any time”. Why not create a space where people won’t HAVE TO go to work every day, they’ll WANT TOO.

Office Design - COFCO

Bank Branch Closings Accelerate as Consolidations Continue to Rise

New Jersey Bill Aims to Help Vacant Malls, Office ParksBanks are closing more branches at a faster pace as clients choose technology over tellers, with the outlets shut in the third quarter running about 50 percent higher than the quarterly average over the past two years.

Branch consolidation in the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate market has been a response to the growing use of mobile apps to complete banking transactions that used to occur face-to-face. However, in their most recent earnings reports calls, bankers indicate the latest round of consolidations is helping them meet expense reduction goals.

This report involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties is being made through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

The nation’s more than 5,400 banks closed 1,129 offices in the third quarter in the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data. They opened only 507, resulting in a net loss of 622 branches or roughly 3.4 million square feet based on the average size of a bank branch. Over the past two years, the net loss of bank branches per quarter averaged 422.

Wells Fargo & Co. is one of the banks most actively shrinking its portfolio in the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties market. In the third quarter, it consolidated 93 branches and said it was on track to consolidate 300 branches this year. In the fourth quarter, it expects to complete the previously announced divestiture of 52 branches to Flagstar Bancorp. As of Sept. 30, there was about $2.12 billion of deposits attached to those 52 Wells Fargo bank branches.

Wells Fargo’s downsizing across its U.S. and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings began last year. With about 5,940 offices in the United States, Wells has plans to shrink to about 5,000 branch locations by 2020. The moves are designed to help reduce Wells Fargo’s annual expenses expectations for 2018 of $53.5 billion to a range of $50 billion to $51 billion for the full year 2020.

SunTrust Banks too has already been well into the process of consolidating branches in the U.S. commercial real estate market, including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space. The institution has closed 74 locations in the past year, according to FDIC data.

“We’ve actually shrunk our branch count by about 25 percent already,” Allison Dukes, SunTrust chief financial officer, told analysts. “As I think about where we could go from here, I’d say, we expect to continue to shrink our branch network somewhere in the range of 4 percent or so a year.”

The percentage to close in SunTrust’s national and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings base will be influenced by consumer behavior patterns and the need to deliver continuous efficiency improvement, Dukes said.

For more information about Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space or other Philadelphia commercial properties, please call 215-799-6900 to speak with Jason Wolf (jason.wolf@wolfcre.com) at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a leading Philadelphia commercial real estate broker that specializes in Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a full-service CORFAC International brokerage and advisory firm, is a premier Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm that provides a full range of Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, property management services, and marketing commercial offices, medical properties, industrial properties, land properties, retail buildings and other Philadelphia commercial properties for buyers, tenants, investors and sellers.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate broker with expertise in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, provides unparalleled expertise in matching companies and individuals seeking new Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space with the Philadelphia commercial properties that best meets their needs.

As experts in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, the team at our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm provides ongoing detailed information about Philadelphia commercial properties to our clients and prospects to help them achieve their real estate goals.  If you are looking for Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space for sale or lease, Wolf Commercial Real Estate is the Philadelphia commercial real estate broker you need — a strategic partner who is fully invested in your long-term growth and success.

Please visit our websites for a full listing of South Jersey and Philadelphia commercial properties for lease or sale through our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

Landlord Issues from Tenant Bankruptcies

Landlord Issues for Tenant BankruptciesTenant bankruptcies are creating headaches for landlords. RadioShack. Brookstone. Toys R’ Us. Sears. With fifteen major retail bankruptcies filed to-date in 2018, the toppled retail behemoth has almost become a cliché, and brands once courted by commercial landlords have become major sources of risk. With no sign of a slow-down, this article provides a refresher on your rights, as a commercial landlord, in commercial tenant bankruptcies.

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Commercial Tenant Bankruptcies 101: THE BASICS

• Ipso facto clauses in a lease, which trigger default or acceleration upon the filing of a bankruptcy case, are generally unenforceable under the Bankruptcy Code. Thus, you cannot terminate a lease or stop performing your obligations under the lease on account of the bankruptcy filing.

• The filing of a bankruptcy case triggers the automatic stay, which requires all actions to enforce the lease, evict the tenant or collect a debt (including unpaid rent) to cease. Unless you have a judgment to possess the subject premises, or the lease has otherwise expired by its terms, you must not continue to pursue collection or enforcement activities.

• A commercial debtor may assume a lease and assign it to a third party, in most circumstances without your consent, even if the lease requires the consent of the landlord to assignment.

• A commercial debtor may reject a lease based on its business judgment, and you have very few (virtually no) grounds on which to object to a lease rejection.

Commercial Tenant Bankruptcies 201: WHEN WILL I GET PAID AND HOW MUCH?

The Bankruptcy Code requires bankrupt tenants to continue paying rent under the lease during the pendency of the case (post-petition rent). If a debtor does not assume a lease within 210 days of the commencement of the bankruptcy case, the lease is deemed rejected.

Depending on whether the lease is assumed or rejected and the financial health of the bankruptcy estate, rent that was unpaid as of the date of the filing (pre-petition rent) may be paid in full, in part or not at all. Tenants under assumed leases must cure all breaches under the lease, including to pay in full all unpaid pre-petition and post-petition rent and any damages incurred as a result of the breach of the lease. The cure amounts must be paid at the time the lease is assumed by the debtor or its assignee.

Landlords under rejected leases, on the other hand, are entitled to a claim against the bankruptcy estate, which, depending on the financial health of the debtor, may be paid in full, in part or not at all. While unpaid postpetition rent constitutes an administrative (or dollar-for-dollar) claim against the estate, all other pre petition rent and damages caused by the rejection of the lease constitute unsecured (often, cents-on-the-dollar) claims, and will be paid pro rata with other unsecured creditors. Further, while rejection damages include the amount of rent remaining in the life of its lease, damages are statutorily capped at the greater of one year of rent or the rent for 15% of the remaining term of the lease, not to exceed three (3) years. Landlords who successfully mitigate their damages and re-let the premises may not be entitled to any claim if the rent received under the new lease is greater than or equal to the rent under the existing lease. Payments on unsecured claims are typically paid, if at all, after the debtor has confirmed a plan of reorganization.

Commercial Tenant Bankruptcies 301: DO I HAVE TO ACCEPT A RENT REDUCTION?

Bankruptcy affords the debtor tenant a unique opportunity to re-negotiate its leases. On one hand, the Bankruptcy Code prohibits the debtor from cherry picking which provisions of a lease it wants to assume and which provisions it would like to reject; instead, the Code requires the debtor to assume or reject the lease in its entirety. On the other hand, many debtor tenants leverage the specter of potential rejection to obtain significant rent concessions from landlords. Rent reduction negotiations often begin in the pre-bankruptcy period and continue in the early days of the case, with landlords being told that failure to negotiate will result in certain rejection.

You do not have to negotiate with the debtor tenant or accept a rent reduction, though doing so may increase the possibility of the assumption of your lease. Debtor tenants are more likely to reject leases:

• Not essential to the continued operation of the business,
• With above-market rent,
• In areas saturated with other debtor locations, or
• With low-performing stores.

If your lease falls outside of these categories, then the debtor may assume the lease even without obtaining a rent (or other) concession.

Commercial Tenant Bankruptcies THE BIG PICTURE

As soon as a tenant shows signs of financial weakness, consider actively pursuing remedies under the lease, including termination or eviction proceedings. If the lease has expired or you have already obtained a judgment for possession when your tenant has filed for bankruptcy, tear up this article! (after confirming with your attorney that the lease is, in fact, properly terminated).

If the lease has not expired or terminated at the time of filing, be sure to engage bankruptcy counsel to review the proceedings and protect your interests in the case. Bankruptcy counsel will object to any insufficient cure amount, file a proof of claim for your damages and review any plan of reorganization to advise you of your
anticipated recoveries. Even though retail bankruptcies have become commonplace, sound counsel will ensure
that your rights are protected and help you get paid.

Finally, engage competent real estate professionals, who can provide an accurate assessment of current market
rent and assist in finding a replacement tenant to satisfy and requirement that you mitigate your damages
after rejection/termination of the lease.

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and none of these materials is offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice or a legal opinion based on any specific facts or circumstances.

 

Wire Fraud in Commercial Real Estate

Wire Fraud in Commercial Real EstateLet’s examine Wire Fraud in Commercial Real Estate and how you can avoid it. No industry is exempt from cyber crime, and the commercial real estate industry has become a common target. As hackers devise plans to obtain sensitive information about commercial real estate transactions, real estate professionals need to take particular interest in cyber security to protect their clients and themselves from wire fraud.

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Wire Fraud in Commercial Real Estate: WHAT IS IT?

In instances of wire fraud in commercial real estate, a common ploy involves hackers breaking into a real estate agent’s email account to obtain details about upcoming transactions. Once the hackers have all the information they need, they send an email to the buyer, pretending to be the agent or a representative of the title company.

In an email to the buyer, the hackers state that there has been a change in the closing instructions and that the buyer needs to follow new wire instructions listed in the email. If a buyer falls victim to the scam and wires money to the fraudulent account, they’re unlikely to see the money again.

Wire Fraud in Commercial Real Estate: RED FLAGS

A potential indicator of wire fraud in commercial real estate is an email that makes any reference to a Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) wire transfer, which is sent via the SWIFT international payment network and indicates an overseas destination for the funds. However, since the emails tend to include detailed information pertaining to the transaction—due to the perpetrator having access to the agent’s email account—many people make the mistake of assuming the email is from a legitimate source. The email addresses often appear to be legitimate, either because the hacker has managed to create a fake email account using the name of the real estate company or because they’ve hacked the agent’s actual email account.

Wire Fraud in Commercial Real Estate: HOW TO AVOID IT

Wire fraud is one of many types of online fraud targeting commercial real estate professionals and their clients. To prevent cyber crime from occurring, every party involved in a real estate transaction needs to implement and follow a series of security measures that include the following:

• Never send wire transfer information, or any type of sensitive information, via email. This includes all types of financial information, not just wire instructions.

• If you’re a real estate professional, inform clients about your email and communication practices, and explain that you will never expect them to send sensitive information via email.

• If wiring funds, first contact the recipient using a verified phone number to confirm that the wiring information is accurate. The phone number should be obtained by a reliable source—email is not one of them.

• If email is the only method available for sending information about a transaction, make sure it is encrypted.

• Delete old emails regularly, as they may reveal information that hackers can use.

• Change usernames and passwords on a regular basis, and make sure that they’re difficult to guess.

• Make sure anti-virus technology is up to date, and that firewalls are installed and working.

• Never open suspicious emails. If the email has already been opened, never click on any links in the email, open any attachments or reply to the email. IF YOU’VE BEEN HACKED

Take the following steps if you suspect that your email, or any type of account, has been hacked:

• Immediately change all usernames and passwords associated with any account that may have been compromised.

• Contact anyone who may have been exposed to the attack so they too can change their usernames and passwords. Remind them to avoid complying with any requests for financial information that come from an unverified source.

• Report fraudulent activity to the FBI via the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. Also contact the state or local realtor association, which will alert others to the suspicious activity.  Contact Hardenbergh Insurance Group today for more information on avoiding real estate fraud and other types of cyber crime.

For More Information about how you can prevent Wire Fraud in Commercial Real Estate, please contact:

Brian Blaston, Partner
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955
www.hig.net

Office Space Near Philadelphia Independence Hall in Great Demand

Could there be signs the Philadelphia Independence Hall office market is heating up?

Throughout 2015 and 2017 Independence Hall was an outlier with noticeably higher vacancies than other submarkets in and around Philadelphia’s central business district (CBD) such as Market Street West and University City. These higher vacancies were caused by move outs by both government and private sector tenants including the U.S. Navy, the GSA and Dow Chemical.

Independence Hall’s concentration of older office buildings and its distance from key center city regional rail stations are potential drawbacks from many office tenants’ perspective. However, a slew of office renovations, restaurant/bar openings and high-end residential construction throughout the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – are now coalescing in what was once a relatively sleepy submarket.

This report on U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties, being made available through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate – a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm, is part of the Market Insights series from the CoStar Group research organization. These periodic reports provide a snapshot of recent real estate trends. CoStar monitors commercial real estate across 390 metro areas and analyzes the economic trends that move these markets.

Since 2014, Keystone Property Group has re-energized the ground floor of 100 Independence by bringing Independence Beer Garden — which includes outdoor seating and a gaming area — and modernist café La Colombe. One block away, MRP Realty’s newly-renovated Bourse — previously home to the nation’s first commodity exchange — is reopening this fall with an impressive array of new dining and drinking options on the ground floor. Coworking operator Make Offices also recently leased 35,000 square feet on the fifth floor of one of these key national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties.

More than 850 new, high-end apartment units have either completed or broken ground in the Independence Hall submarket over the past five years. Parkway Corporation recently completed its Civic Design review for a proposed 278-unit apartment tower at 709 Chestnut in this key segment of the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate market. Toll Brothers is also planning an 85-unit condo development on the 700 block of Sansom Street.

These improvements to Independence Hall’s ambience and amenity offerings are beginning to bear fruit for office owners. A handful of large leases including Macquaire Investment Management, Five Below and a few coworking operators have been signed in recent years. These leases, combined with conversions of older office space into apartments, have helped bring Independence Hall’s office space availability rate — the percentage of space being marketed for lease — back in line with other Center City submarkets in 2018.

Given Independence Hall’s complete lack of new office construction, the submarket’s availability rate has nowhere to go but further down if tenants’ interest in these U.S. and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings continues to rebound. It will be interesting to see just how much more tenant interest Independence Hall can garner in the years ahead.

 

For more information about Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space or other Philadelphia commercial properties, please call 215-799-6900 to speak with Jason Wolf (jason.wolf@wolfcre.com) at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a leading Philadelphia commercial real estate broker that specializes in Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a full-service CORFAC International brokerage and advisory firm, is a premier Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm that provides a full range of Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, property management services, and marketing commercial offices, medical properties, industrial properties, land properties, retail buildings and other Philadelphia commercial properties for buyers, tenants, investors and sellers.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate broker with expertise in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, provides unparalleled expertise in matching companies and individuals seeking new Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space with the Philadelphia commercial properties that best meets their needs.

As experts in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, the team at our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm provides ongoing detailed information about Philadelphia commercial properties to our clients and prospects to help them achieve their real estate goals.  If you are looking for Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space for sale or lease, Wolf Commercial Real Estate is the Philadelphia commercial real estate broker you need — a strategic partner who is fully invested in your long-term growth and success.

Please visit our websites for a full listing of South Jersey and Philadelphia commercial properties for lease or sale through our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

Landlords Could Seize Opportunity If Papa John’s Shuts Stores

It’s not often that commercial real estate landlords want to lose tenants, but that may be the case with the criticized pizza chain Papa John’s as it faces the prospect of closing 250 restaurants across the country.

Landlords throughout the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – are concerned the chain’s highly publicized missteps by its former chief executive, who received swift criticism after using a racial slur on a recent conference call, could dissuade shoppers and they may hope the chain shuts stores, an industry spokesperson said recently.

“There’s a need for that size of space in the market and there’s not that much of it,” the spokesperson explained. “They (landlords) may be able to get higher rents from other tenants.”

This report on U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties from the CoStar Group research organization is being made through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

Papa John’s, the country’s third-largest pizza chain, has suffered public blows this past year from, among others, owners of national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties. Founder and former Chairman and Chief Executive John Schnatter — who still owns about 30 percent of the company — this summer used a racial slur to describe African Americans on a conference call. Last fall, he blamed NFL leadership for allowing players to kneel during the National Anthem and complained the controversy was hurting the chain’s sales. At the time, Papa John’s was an NFL sponsor. It has since been replaced by Pizza Hut.

In a recent earnings call, Papa John’s Chief Executive Steve Ritchie said the chain was struggling and may be forced to close some locations.

“We’re going to evaluate all the options as they’re presented to us, if there is some sort of increase in closures that exist here because of the declines in the sales,” he said.

A Papa John’s spokeswoman declined to comment.

If the chain does close stores, a new commercial real estate report providing insight into the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate market offers clues as to which businesses might replace them. The report said non-retail and non-restaurant space in shopping centers increased to 23.1 percent this year from 19.2 percent in 2012. Forty-four percent of shoppers say they prefer to visit shopping centers that have a wide variety of non-retail tenants.

“The growing focus on experience has led to a rising share in non-retail tenants, including food and beverage, salons, movie theaters, fitness centers and medical clinics,” the report said.

Most Papa John’s stores are in shopping and strip centers, and industry observers believe two popular concepts — Mediterranean or taco restaurants — could backfill the space in these U.S. and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and drive traffic.

Rival pizza chain Domino’s, the country’s second-largest pizza chain, in particular is taking advantage of Papa John’s woes, said Henry Renaud, president of retail brokerage Renaud Consulting. In contrast to Papa John’s, Domino’s Chief Executive Richard Allison said this summer that the chain was preparing to build about 2,500 restaurants in the next decade or so and two supply chain centers in the next two years to keep pace with growth.

For more information about Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space or other Philadelphia commercial properties, please call 215-799-6900 to speak with Jason Wolf (jason.wolf@wolfcre.com) at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a leading Philadelphia commercial real estate broker that specializes in Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a full-service CORFAC International brokerage and advisory firm, is a premier Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm that provides a full range of Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, property management services, and marketing commercial offices, medical properties, industrial properties, land properties, retail buildings and other Philadelphia commercial properties for buyers, tenants, investors and sellers.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate broker with expertise in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, provides unparalleled expertise in matching companies and individuals seeking new Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space with the Philadelphia commercial properties that best meets their needs.

As experts in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, the team at our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm provides ongoing detailed information about Philadelphia commercial properties to our clients and prospects to help them achieve their real estate goals.  If you are looking for Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space for sale or lease, Wolf Commercial Real Estate is the Philadelphia commercial real estate broker you need — a strategic partner who is fully invested in your long-term growth and success.

Please visit our websites for a full listing of South Jersey and Philadelphia commercial properties for lease or sale through our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.