Penn’s Landing Re-imagined; Real Estate Developers Embrace Crowdfunding; the Strip Mall Invades the Main Line

Please enjoy this week’s edition of Capstone Law’s Philadelphia Real Estate Trends:

  • For decades, numerous government and private groups in Philadelphia aimed to transform the utterly drab and disconnected Penn’s Landing into a destination worthy of a world-class city. These plans typically failed due to budget shortfalls and insufficient political will. Despite these setbacks, the City of Philadelphia and the Delaware River Waterfront Commission recently unveiled a new re-conceptualization of Penn’s Landing prepared by Hargreaves Associates that would “bring downtown to the river’s edge”. If implemented, the project could transform the eastern part of the city into a major public attraction, complete with a cap for I-95 and attractions such as a carousel, dog park, playground, park, and amphitheater. Of course, insufficient money and political once again threaten any new development at Penn’s Landing. Stay tuned as we learn more in the coming months.
  • Crowdfunding sites — such as www.kickstarter.com — are very trendy these days. The simple concept allows large numbers of individual investors to invest small (or large!) sums in proposed projects. Their growth is most noticeable in Hollywood, as independent filmmakers, such as Zack Braff, rely on crowdfunding sites to raise money for their films. This trend is now being tested among real estate developers in the Philadelphia area, most notably by Shift Capital.  Shift Capital is partnering with crowdfunding platform Fundrise L.L.C. to raise 20% of the funds required to construct the proposed “Transfer Station” in Manayunk, a commercial development including both retail and shared office space. All eyes are on this project as a potential alternative funding source for (often risky) projects from which traditional commercial banks and sophisticated real estate investors generally steer away.
  • Despite pressure to develop pedestrian-friendly projects, Main Line developers still embrace the autombile-centric culture of the previous century.  For example, WP Realty proposes bringing a strip mall style project to East Wynnewood Road right near SEPTA’s Wynnewood Station.  This site cries out for a dense pedestrian friendly development that takes advantage of easy access to nearby public transit.  Instead, WP Realty plans to develop several low level free standing buildings on this property with large street setbacks and ample store front parking.  WP Realty also intends to construct a drive-through bank branch on the site.  These plans so inspired Lower Merion Planning Commission Co-Chairman Charles Howland that he mused “[t]he 70s have called, and they want their strip mall back.”

As always, please check-out Capstone’s website and the “Llenrock Local”, for the latest news from Philadelphia’s busy commercial real estate sector.  

Until next time, have a great week!

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