Hamilton Plaza in Hamilton — Courtesy: Levin Management Corp.
By Joshua Burd
Levin Management Corp. is marking a record year in which it closed 1.2 million square feet in transaction activity, in a hopeful sign for the health of brick-and-mortar retail.
The real estate services firm, which is based in North Plainfield, said the volume in 2021 comprises new leases, renewals and extensions, as well as license agreements, adding that it has a robust pipeline continuing into 2022. It also reported 59 new store openings last year within its retail-focused leasing and management portfolio, more than double the number recorded in 2020 and up 33 percent from 2019.
Industrywide trends indicate the momentum will continue, LMC said, 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 Matthew K. Harding, the firm’s CEO. “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 20,400-square-foot transaction with The Goodwill Store at Hamilton Plaza in Hamilton, along with a 30,000-square-foot commitment with German grocer Lidl at Mayfair Shopping Center in Commack, New York, according to a news release. The firm also highlighted non-retail deals such as a 118,000-square-foot, full-building lease by USA Container Co. Inc. at the Rutgers Industrial Center in Piscataway.
Additionally, LMC said it completed about 200,000 square feet of buildouts in 2021, 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.”
The firm expanded its leasing and management portfolio in 2021, securing a nine-property, 840,000-square-foot assignment with a privately held ownership entity. The appointment marked the largest total number of properties that LMC has taken on in one assignment throughout its 70-year history, it said, prompting staff growth initiatives including key promotions and new hires within its leasing, property management and corporate administration teams.
Last year also brought accolades from several trade publications, including recognition as a Top Retail Influencer by GlobeSt and Real Estate Forum and a selection as an NJBIZ Business of the Year finalist, the news release said. Meantime, NJBIZ named Harding to its Commercial Real Estate Power 50 list, while Vice President of Leasing Sidney Singer and Senior Leasing Representative E.J. Moawad both were recognized as CoStar Quarterly Deals winners.
What’s more, Senior Leasing Representative Vanessa Fernandez-Kelty earned the CoStar Group Northern New Jersey Retail Power Broker designation for the second consecutive year.