Despite the massive market forces involved in real estate, some projects – even major commercial work – are determined by personal happenstance.
That was a recurring them at last week’s Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation roundtable on commercial real estate development, which featured four representatives from companies with projects currently underway in the county.
Although his company a portfolio of properties throughout the region, Richard E. Jordan III of Smith Land & Improvement Corporation noted his current project came to him just from looking out the window.
“It’s across from our office, and my dad and I got tired of looking out our window and seeing that property,” Jordan said regarding the small commercial area at 1801 Market Street in Camp Hill that Smith Land is currently redeveloping.
“There is public will there to get something done,” Jordan said. “We have kind of a built-in tenancy as well, and we’re trying to phase the project in so we can keep the tenants.”
“It’s a long term play,” Jordan continued. “We’ll create affordable space for them, and they can pay us rent. We think that’s a good play for us in 2018.”
Similarly, Steve Capone of Caprice Properties emphasized a personal connection to the building at 139 West High Street in Carlisle that is currently being renovated for Molly Pitcher Brewing Company.
Capone, a Carlisle resident, said his partnership has 15 properties in nearly a single block, seeing redevelopment as more than just a one-spot effort.
“Once you have the infrastructure set up in a downtown area, you don’t have a lot of competition for spaces that will allow that tenant to do what they want to do,” Capone said.
Such properties can present challenges, both with the age of the existing building as well as pushback from neighbors who may be affected by the change, especially if zoning needs to be altered to allow the project under municipal codes.
All of the panelists last week agreed that public will goes a long way, and is an almost unavoidable factor in development.
“All of the available property is going to have some sort of story or issue behind it, especially in a high demand area like Cumberland County,” said Brandon Johnson of Monarch Development Group.
Johnson described the long process necessary to get municipal support for the Shepherd’s Crossing housing development in Hampden Township, one of several affordable housing designs that Monarch has done.
“When we were going through the process for Shepherd’s Crossing, the neighbors wanted to have information and numbers for every project we’d ever done,” Johnson said.
“But the upside is that now we have a good example in Cumberland County that we can use as a reference for future projects,” he continued, with Monarch planning to model the Sunflower Fields development in Susquehanna Township on the success of Shepherd’s Crossing.
Daniel Flickinger of Alexander Building Construction also touched on his company’s redevelopment of an abandoned beer distributor building on the Carlisle Pike, expected to become a multi-unit commercial space.
“2018 is looking up,” Flickinger said. “We are seeing an increase in opportunity for redevelopment projects.”