By: Yolanda Rivas
One of the main drivers of Philadelphia’s economy is the real estate industry, attractive for its affordable prices, advantageous location and the Pennsylvania I-78/I-81 Corridor. A recent report from commercial real estate firm CBRE showed the corridor saw a total of $132 million in capital investment during Q3 2019. In an interview with Invest:, Adam Mullen, CBRE’s market leader for the Greater Philadelphia region, discussed the areas seeing the most growth in Philly’s commercial real estate and what is spurring growth in the market.
What are the lines of business seeing the most growth or demand in Philadelphia today?
It is hard to understate the momentum we are witnessing in the industrial and logistics space. The shift to e-commerce and modernized supply chains have not only created one of the largest warehouse distribution markets in the world in our backyard, the Pennsylvania I-78/I-81 Corridor, but demand continues to be robust for Philadelphia’s industrial properties. A variety of users, including retailers and third-party logistics companies, are driving demand so they deliver goods to consumers more efficiently than ever before.
At the same time, the local retail market is as vibrant as it has been in years. Philadelphia is at the top of everyone’s list as a major gateway market in the retail space. We have the largest mall on the East Coast, the King of Prussia Mall, which is a prime example of the consumption activity in our region. Also, the food and beverage sector is one of our leading sources of demand, not only in the suburbs and shopping centers, but also in Downtown Philadelphia. Due to the opportunity we see in the retail market, we have had an extreme focus on our retail business in Philadelphia, doubling down on our investments over the last few months.
We can’t overlook the dynamism in Philadelphia’s office market. Our Downtown office market is larger, in terms of square footage, than Downtown Los Angeles or Downtown Houston, and we are seeing considerable demand from not only tenants but also investors, particularly from Asia and the Middle East.
Finally, we continue to watch the rise of the multifamily market in the region. Due to low interest rates and a plentitude of available debt capital, the demand for multifamily assets in greater Philadelphia has exploded over the past few years.
What are the major drivers of growth for Philadelphia’s real estate sector?
The local economy is very strong and is being driven notably by the “eds and meds” segment, which has a unique presence in the Philadelphia region. Not only do the local educational and health services institutions have a huge effect on the economy and are growing rapidly, but they also represent the largest share of our employment base. Consequently, this concentration of talent has created a boom in the local life sciences industry, which is experiencing rapid growth, notably in central Philadelphia where most of the region’s major academic and healthcare institutions are clustered and spurring innovation and new companies. Not incidentally, we are seeing the highest office rents we have ever seen in Center City, and also experiencing a significant uptick in office tenants relocating to Downtown Philadelphia.
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