PHILADELPHIA-With the inking of a lease with PetSmart for 20,500 sf, the redevelopment of 375,000-sf Boulevard Plaza in North Philly is complete. This follows a lease with Target for a 145,000-sf new Target Greatland store, which signaled the revival of the 15-year-old center that had suffered a precipitous decline following two consecutive losses of an anchor due to bankruptcy.

Caldor, an initial anchor, went bust in 1999. Ames Department Stores filled the vacancy until it succumbed to bankruptcy two years later. The 12-lane Roosevelt Blvd. is dotted with shopping centers and big box retailers, which posed significant competition to the ailing center, which, following Ames’ exit in 2001, lost another 12 tenants.

New York-based Lavipour & Co., which specializes in repositioning under-performing shopping centers along the mid-Atlantic, acquired the property. Its potential lay in its “large tract of land at a strategic intersection surrounded by a dense population in an area where good development sites are scarce,” says David Lavipour, president.

Lavipour hired Mt. Laurel, NJ-based Metro Commercial Real Estate to market the property. Stephen Niggeman and Thomas Londres, Metro SVPs and principals, negotiated the Target lease, which is the giant chain’s second unit in Philadelphia County.

Making way for this prime tenant, however, called for significant demolition, construction and the relocation of three existing prime tenants. During construction, tenants occupying 178,000 sf had to continue doing business. A Metro affiliate, Metro Commercial Construction Services, headed by Philip Yurkow, coordinated the required permits and the site work.

During the final phase of the redevelopment, Metro’s Londres negotiated the PetSmart lease. It called for a freestanding unit within the redeveloped area and zipped up the remaining vacancy. Rental rates for the leases are undisclosed. According to the local office of Marcus & Millichap, although asking rates in this area average $17.70 per sf, the average effective rate is approximately $16 per sf. National tenants, such as Target and PetSmart, however, generally lease at below the average.

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