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Store Openings, Construction Uptick Underscore Strength of Brick-and-Mortar Retail
NORTH PLAINFIELD, N.J., Jan. 18, 2022 – As consumers returned to physical stores in 2021, so, too, did retail tenants – demonstrating the enduring value of the brick-and-mortar experience in a post-pandemic world. Levin Management Corporation’s (LMC’s) leasing activity punctuates this trend; the North Plainfield-based commercial real estate services firm closed a record 1.2 million square feet in new leases, renewals and extensions, and license agreements last year – with a robust transactional pipeline continuing into 2022.
LMC also reported 59 new store openings within its retail-focused leasing and management portfolio in 2021, more than double the number of store openings in 2020 and representing a 33% increase over 2019. Industrywide trends indicate this momentum will continue in 2022, with expansions among traditional brick-and-mortar tenants supplemented by increased leasing among digitally native brands.
“Levin’s sustained transactional activity reflects the continued viability and resilience of brick-and-mortar retail,” said LMC’s Matthew K. Harding, chief executive officer. “Confidence among retail tenants drove strong leasing velocity through 2021 and shows no sign of abating in the new year. National brands and franchisees will continue to capitalize on opportunities to secure exceptionally good real estate at good pricing. We also are seeing movement among independently owned retailers. This activity is happening at a steady pace, fueled by current market conditions.”
LMC’s 2021 retail leasing highlights included a 30,000-square-foot commitment with German grocer Lidl at Mayfair Shopping Center (Commack, N.Y.), a 20,400-square-foot transaction with The Goodwill Store at Hamilton Plaza (Hamilton Twp., N.J.), a 10,000-square-foot lease with Ulta Beauty at St. Georges Crossing (Woodbridge, N.J.), a 9,600-square-foot lease with LL Flooring at Fairground Plaza (Mt. Holly, N.J.), and a 9,000-square-foot deal with beauty supply store KC Beauty at Crossroads Place (Falls Church, Va.). Non-retail leasing highlights within LMC’s diversified portfolio included a 118,000-square-foot, full-building lease by USA Container Co. Inc. at Rutgers Industrial Center (Piscataway, N.J.).
Commensurate with this leasing momentum, LMC is also experiencing a construction uptick. LMC in 2021 completed about 200,000 square feet of buildouts, with 380,000 square feet currently underway or in the near-term pipeline. “More leasing means more fit-out work, especially with many national tenants mandating turnkey space delivery,” Harding said. “Further, with increased space available post-pandemic, competitive owners are doing added prep work before space hits the market as a strategy for winning tenants.”
LMC continued to expand its leasing and management portfolio in 2021 as well, securing a nine-property, 840,000-square-foot management assignment with a privately held ownership entity, marking the largest total number of properties LMC has taken on in one assignment throughout its decades-long history. To support this business momentum, LMC focused on staff growth initiatives, including several strategic promotions and new hires within its leasing, property management and corporate administration teams.
LMC and its team members garnered 2021 industry accolades acknowledging outstanding performance. The company was named a GlobeSt./Real Estate Forum 2021 Top Retail Influencer and was honored as an NJBiz Business of the Year Finalist. Commercial Property Executive recognized LMC among the nation’s Top Property Managers, while NJBiz ranked LMC #2 among the state’s Top Property Managers and named the firm among New Jersey’s Top Commercial Real Estate Developers for the eighth consecutive year.
Further, Harding was named to the NJBiz Commercial Real Estate Power 50 list, and Vice President of Leasing Sidney Singer and Senior Leasing Representative E.J. Moawad both were recognized as CoStar Quarterly Deals winners. Senior Leasing Representative Vanessa Fernandez-Kelty was awarded the CoStar Group Northern NJ Retail Power Broker designation for the second consecutive year.
For seven decades, LMC has served as a trusted single-source commercial real estate services provider for institutional and private owners. The company today maintains a 120-property, 16 million-square-foot leasing and management portfolio – including a notable proportion of grocery-anchored shopping centers and other retail properties, as well as industrial and office assets.
LMC helps its clients operate properties and create case-specific solutions to protect and improve value; it has distinguished itself as a firm large enough to excel in assignments of any scale while continuing to employ a hands-on, proprietary approach in every facet of its business. The firm offers leasing, property management, financial management and reporting, construction management and development, lease administration, marketing services, and acquisition and disposition consulting services. LMC’s capabilities continue to evolve with new technologies, efficiencies and sustainability-focused initiatives to serve a new generation of properties, investors and tenants.