Iron Mountain, CONRI sign leases at Bushkill Township LogistiCenter

LogistiCenter at Lehigh Valley East Building 1 is now fully leased. PHOTO/DERMODY PROPERTIES –

Dermody Properties, a national private equity real estate investment, development and management company focused on the logistics real estate sector, has announced the lease of LogistiCenter at Lehigh Valley East Building 1 in Bushkill Township to Iron Mountain and CONRI Services Inc.  The property is located at located at 450 E. Moorestown Rd. 

Iron Mountain is a provider of storage, data center infrastructure, asset lifecycle management and information management services.  

This location expands its consumer storage division, as well as corporate data and physical storage.  

CONRI Services Inc. offers warehousing and fulfillment services to a variety of customers, including publishing, home decor, gifts and tea.  

The company is expanding its existing footprint in New York and New Jersey to accommodate both existing and new customers and will lease the remaining 116,640 square feet of the state-of-the-art space. 

“We are pleased to welcome Iron Mountain and CONRI Services, Inc. to LogistiCenter at Lehigh Valley East,” said Rob Borny, east region partner at Dermody Properties. “With the addition of both of these great companies to our project, LogistiCenter at Lehigh Valley East is fully leased.  These companies join a collection of large e-commerce, distribution, warehouse and light manufacturing companies in Eastern Pennsylvania.” 

Brian Knowles and Eric Zahniser of Lee & Associates represented Dermody Properties in the lease transactions. Ed Soriano and Larry Maister of JLL represented Iron Mountain and Jeff Lockard of JLL represented CONRI Services, Inc. LogistiCenter at Lehigh Valley East Building 2, at 460 E. Moorestown Rd., was leased to Mainfreight Inc. earlier this year.   


Personal health fears may eclipse how businesses floor plans are configured

Will Covid-19 clobber the open office floor plan?

Popular among millennials and meant to encourage collaboration and innovation, open floor plans have been popular for years. But fears over health safety since the coronavirus pandemic and anxiety over working in close proximity to others may force landlords and business owners to rethink how work spaces are designed.

“There is no definitive direction one way or the other by the market. Everyone is taking it a little cautiously at this point,” said Phil Schenkel, executive vice president at the Jones Lang LaSalle, Inc., (JLL) Lehigh Valley office in Bethlehem.

JLL is a commercial real estate services firm with headquarters in Chicago and offices world-wide.

“People are planning to reuse what they currently have” at least for now, he said.

Social distancing in office spaces can involve staggering times employees are in buildings as well as adding hard wall spaces, or repositioning work stations to further spread them out.

While some firms are looking at existing layouts and making modifications to allow for better employee social distancing, there are other companies in the planning stages for offices that are taking the opportunity to rethink how those spaces will be used, Schenkel said.

“A lot has to do with the industry type, their protocols for re-entry for employees and how they are handling that re-entry,” Schenkel said.

Common practices such as “density packing,” where businesses try to place as many employees as possible on the same floor, is no longer happening, nor is the concept of office “hoteling.”

“There is not a lot of office hotelling” of shared desktops, cubicles, offices or workspaces, according to Schenkel, who also believes this is a previous office management practice unlikely to return any time soon.

Office hotelling provides a single set up in which multiple employees, typically at different times of the day, or on different work days in the week, to make use of necessary office space and desk resources.

Even with many employees working remotely Schenkel said his clients have not abandoned a physical office space, at least for now.

“Many are pushing the decision to January either for bringing people back to the office or what [other] decisions they will make,” he said.

For companies in the middle of construction projects rethinking floor plans could including tweaking layouts, rather than a radical departure from the original plan. “It is an evolving process and so far, no one is taking the lead,” Schenkel said.

Wait and see

Christa Kraftician, director at Spillman Farmer Architects in Bethlehem, said most clients are taking a “wait and see” approach to how they’ll use or reconfigure office space use in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I thought there would be quite a bit more discussion. There hasn’t been any change now, because I think [business owners] are working toward the long-term and thinking maybe we’ll go back to where we were,” Kraftician said.

A Harvard Business Review article published online last year prior to the widespread cornavirus outbreak in the U.S., reported the unintended consequences of open floor plans actually suggested “less meaningful” interactions between employees.

The article said online platforms such as Zoom and WebEx, as well as text messaging, have made connecting with colleagues – even if they are in other locations, faster and easier.

And creating personal space, either with a headset or by ignoring requests for attention, may be subtle ways to avoid face-to-face contact with colleagues in an open office floor plan. The article suggested workers may use a form of what actors call “the fourth wall” to separate themselves from others in order to focus on a task.

Kraftician argued for many business sectors successfully use open floor plans to provide more open access to colleagues.

Will they come back?

She said office social distancing could ultimately come down to numbers. A natural spacing driven by where employees prefer to spend their work days – working remotely or reporting to the office, could evolve and help remedy the issue, at least in the short term.

“I think they are waiting to see how many are coming back, how many are staying [remote], and we’re still waiting for the outcome of that,” she said.

Should a business decide on partial or closed office spaces, Kraftician said many open floor plans can be easily fitted with walls, providing there is enough space to accommodate a partitioned layout.

Evan Stone, executive director of Bucks County Planning Commission in Doylestown, said it is possible more employees will prefer individual offices if they return to the office.

There is a larger demand issue for commercial office space, according to Stone.
Before the pandemic the commercial real estate market – especially new office development in Bucks County had been “very very anemic,” he said.

“We have buckets of residential development, but office development had been less than 5 percent” of the market for at least the past three years, or longer.

Firms that need to build may opt instead for low rise office suites – going wide instead of tall, and spread out on a property. Adding exterior windows and doors that open to the outside could also factor into the future of office development, according to Stone.

“People are going to need more space,” he said.

Others may consider a blend of work styles – from office, to remote, to downsizing their square footage.

Kraftician said high-rise building successes like City Center in Allentown are helping to reinvent office and mixed-use markets, save precious natural resources and limit “urban sprawl,” an inherent problem with single-story office campus developments.

If Stone’s assertion is correct and the office real estate market and new development sector continues to sag, municipalities with dedicated commercial office or office development zoning may add overlay districts to allow flexible land uses and mixed use development.

Overlay zoning districts are special ordinances placed over an existing district to allow for different uses under certain approved circumstances.

With health and safety and economic sustainability at stake, and the wait for an eagerly anticipated vaccine available to the public, many questions about the future of office spaces remain.

“Will things ever go back to normal,” Stone said.

PennCap plans advanced marketing effort for Lehigh Valley Academy offices being vacated in 2023

1560 Valley Center Parkway is among the buildings being vacated by Lehigh Valley Academy and will be available for lease in 2023. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –


With the Lehigh Valley Academy charter school planning to build and move to a facility of its own in September, 2023, PennCap Properties has begun looking for a new tenant.

JLL and ALT will be leading the leasing efforts for the five properties located along Valley Center Parkway in the Lehigh Valley Corporate Center in Bethlehem, as well as other properties in the business park that have vacancies. In all, the team will be looking to secure leases for six buildings.

Phil Schenkel, executive vice president of JLL, will be on the team leading the effort. He said it is fairly unique to begin marketing a property that won’t be available for three years, but he also said it’s a smart move.

“PennCap is taking the initiative to get ahead of the curve to find a replacement tenant or tenants. It’s always helpful for an owner to get ahead of the offers out there,” he said.

Because the five buildings being leased by the charter school are arranged in a campus style and have Class A office and laboratory space, those properties could lend themselves to a company in the life sciences, technology or pharmaceutical fields. Those will be the primary targets of marketing efforts.

They could also accommodate light manufacturing.

Two of the structures are flex buildings, which attracted the school, and could easily be converted to multiple uses. Two of the buildings are connected by a glass walkway and have dedicated outdoor space.

If a large firm might be looking to transition to a new headquarters, for example, planning could take several years, so putting the properties on the market now makes sense.

As part of the agreement with PennCap, JLL and ALT are also handling leasing a property at 1605 Valley Parkway that is expected to be available next year. Its current single tenant has announced plans to move. The leasing agents are hoping to find a new tenant but it could also be leased to a variety of smaller tenants, based on demand.

The former charter school properties consist of 1550, 1560, 1640, 1650 and 1660 Valley Center Parkway.

All totaled, more than 277,000 square feet of Class A office and laboratory space is being marketed.

200-unit residential community headed to Wind Gap

With $23 million in financing arranged, DLP Real Estate Capital moves forward with construction of DREAM Lehigh Valley, a luxury residential community in Wind Gap. (Submitted) –

Developer DLP Real Estate Management, under its parent company, DLP Real Estate Capital, plans to build a 200-unit residential community in Wind Gap that would include a mix of luxury one- and two-bedroom apartments, carriage homes and townhouses.

Jones Lang LaSalle said it arranged $23 million in financing for the development of the project, DREAM Lehigh Valley. JLL, on behalf of the developer, arranged a floating-rate construction loan through a regional bank, according to a news release.

This is the DLP’s first ground-up construction multi-housing community.

DLP, headquartered in Hanover Township, Northampton County, hired Justin Huratiak, president and CEO of Huratiak Homes of Bangor, to lead development of the new community. MKSD architects of South Whitehall Township designed the project.

Huratiak said his company is the general contractor for the project and will build 120 luxury apartments, 72 carriage homes, and eight townhouses on the nearly 30-acre site on East West Street near the Route 512 interchange off Route 33 in Wind Gap.

“Site work is already under way,” Huratiak said. “It was an old quarry. It has an existing pond feature. The land was graded and restored to meet the needs of the project.”

His company hopes to start the first building in two weeks, and the projected is expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete.

Officials will host a topping off ceremony in early spring 2020, to signify construction has begun, Huratiak said.

The project will include nine garden-style residential buildings and a two-story clubhouse with lounge, game room, fitness center and pool, as well as a nature trail. The property will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units averaging 1,210 square feet. Units will include fully equipped kitchens, ceramic and marble tile flooring, smart home features and in-unit washers and dryers, with select homes offerings balconies, patios and private garages.

Michael Pagniucci, director of JLL Capital Markets, and Jason Bond, managing director, led the JLL team representing the borrower.


Former PPL Plaza to be renamed, rebranded

The former PPL Plaza will be renamed and rebranded by its new owner. (File photo) –

The New York-based commercial real estate firm that bought the building formerly known as PPL Plaza said it is working to rebrand and reposition the mostly vacant building.

Somera Road Inc. has hired local leasing and marketing agencies to breathe new life into the LEED Gold-certified building, which was built in 2002 as one of Allentown’s earliest revitalization projects.

With an eye to appealing to a millennial, urban workforce, the firm has hired JLL vice president Matt Dorman and executive vice president Phil Shenkel to lease the property.

“We are embarking on an exciting, full-scale transformation for this building and it is critical to our strategy that we partner with experts who have local insight and expertise from a rebranding and marketing standpoint,” said Ian Ross, managing principal of Somera Road.

Dorman said his team, as well as the building’s owners and architects, will be working on a master plan for redeveloping what he called a valuable piece of downtown real estate. They even reached out for help from the building’s original architect, Robert A.M. Stern Architects of New York.

Dorman said they want to take their time in redesigning and leasing the 240,000 square feet of available space in the building.

“We want to do this thoughtful and not just sign the first tenants that come along,” he said. “We want this to be a center in Allentown.”

Somera Road has hired Altitude Marketing of Emmaus to help with the renaming and rebranding of the property.

The building at 835 Hamilton St. had fallen on hard times, due in large part to its exclusion from the downtown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone and the tax breaks that come with it.

A handful of tenants remain in the building, including some PPL offices, a deli, a BB&T bank branch and the Gold Credit Union.

Dorman said new tenants will have access to the benefits of the NIZ as well as a Class A office space.