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Matthew K. Harding

Demand and Leasing Volume Spark Construction Uptick for CRE Services Firm 

NORTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. (Jan. 17, 2024) – The dining, beauty, fitness, specialty retail and service sectors showed their strength in 2023, driving another strong year for brick-and-mortar dealmaking, according to Levin Management Corporation (LMC). The North Plainfield-based commercial real estate services firm closed more than 100 new leases, renewals and extensions, and license agreements over the past 12 months – illustrating the industry’s momentum and property owners’ focus on competitive positioning for their properties. 

LMC’s just over 1 million square feet in transaction volume last year reflects quality and diversity. “We saw continued expansion and commitments involving anchor tenants, national retailers and franchise brands of all sizes and across multiple categories,” said Sidney Singer, the firm’s vice president of leasing. “We also witnessed movement among independently owned retailers, from creative start-ups to established businesses.” 

To that end, LMC’s 2023 deal highlights include commitments with Target (undisclosed location), Fortunoff Backyard Store and Charleys Cheesesteaks & Wings (Falls Church, Va.), AMVETS Thrift Store and Erie Gymnastics Center (Erie, Pa.), specialty grocer Subzi Mandi (Clifton, N.J.), KPOT Korean BBQ & Hot Pot (Woodbridge, N.J.), NovaCare Rehabilitation (West Chester, Pa.) and beauty concept Strand Salon Studios (Bridgewater, N.J.). 

“Our talented leasing team’s achievements demonstrate that well-located, quality open-air shopping centers are attracting desirable tenants,” said LMC’s Matthew K. Harding, chief executive officer. “Repositioning space and filling it with the right users – brands that complement an existing retail mix and add to a property’s dynamic – are the keys to sustained success.” 

Retenanting Successes and New Store Openings 
At several shopping centers, LMC’s 2023 leasing illustrates the progress of long-term strategic retenanting initiatives.  

For example, at Mayfair Shopping Center in Commack, N.Y., 2023 additions included anchor PGA Tour Superstore, Sephora, Champions Martial Arts, and MiMi’s Coffee and Bubble Tea. Over the past two years, Mayfair Shopping Center has also added top-ranked grocer Lidl and Planet Fitness; this followed a flurry of leases involving dining and specialty retail. The success is measurable; monthly traffic has increased 51% year over year, according to data from Placer.ai.  

Further, in Harrisburg, Pa., leases with Five Below, cookie shop Crumbl, LensCrafters and hobby store Warhammer extended a period of leasing momentum at High Pointe Commons. At Aldrich Plaza in Howell, N.J., Nothing Bundt Cakes and MY SALON Suite added national brands to the center’s evolving tenant roster. 

According to Coresight Research, retailers were on track to open almost 5,500 stores in the U.S. over the past 12 months. “With strong leasing over the past two years and through 2023, more stores opened than closed in the past 12 months, a significant achievement amid high-profile bankruptcies,” Harding noted. 

In keeping with this momentum, LMC recorded 54 store openings within its 125-property, 16 million-square-foot leasing and management portfolio last year, including notable names like Raising Cane’s at New York City’s Paramount Building, along with CVS Pharmacy (Manasquan, N.J.), Catch Air (Jersey City, N.J.), Mattress Warehouse (North Brunswick, N.J.) and JBBQ & Shabu Shabu (Commack, N.Y.).  

Leveraging Momentum for the Next Chapter 
According to Harding, dealmaking velocity has justified reinvestment in properties, and the firm’s in-house construction management team’s own activity on behalf of its clients illustrates this point. In 2023, LMC launched a major redevelopment at Blue Star Shopping Center in Watchung, N.J., which was catalyzed by an in-center relocation and new, 72,000-square-foot lease with long-time tenant ShopRite. The team is also active with fitouts and pad site developments throughout its portfolio. 

Beyond retail, LMC also spearheaded the ground-up construction of two industrial buildings to expand Rutgers Industrial Center, an established campus in Piscataway, N.J. Both buildings were leased prior to their completion, to Carrier (78,000 SF) and RCF USA (30,000 SF). 

For seven decades, North Plainfield-based LMC has served as a single-source provider for institutional, family office and high-net-worth investors/owners. Its full suite of capabilities includes property management, leasing, financial management and reporting, construction management and development, lease administration, marketing services, and acquisition and disposition consulting services.  

The company has distinguished itself as a firm large enough to excel in assignments of any scale while employing a hands-on, proprietary approach in every facet of its business. LMC’s capabilities continue to evolve with new technologies, efficiencies and sustainability-focused initiatives to serve a new generation of properties, investors and tenants.   

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About Levin Management Corporation (LMC) 
975 Route 22 West, North Plainfield, New Jersey 07060  

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