Commercial, Retail & Industrial Real Estate

ICSC’s RECon 2019 in Las Vegas provided a very good vibe for new deals and excitement not seen since before 2007. Unofficial statistics noted that attendance was up, likely above 37,000 with more than 12,000 exhibitors. Low interest rates, heightened consumer demand and an overall positive national economic outlook provided the backdrop for the increased optimism. Here are a few take-aways from this year’s show.

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Ewing Township’s revaluation has been a long time coming and appears to be done. Property owners in Ewing Township will be receiving their new real estate tax assessment notices in the next few weeks and will have a small window to meet with the revaluation company to discuss the new tax assessment or file a tax appeal.

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One of the questions that I am frequently asked is, “Who can develop property in a redevelopment area?”

As discussed below, redevelopment can be done by anyone, subject to restrictions discussed below, and is not necessarily restricted to just large scale developers.

A redeveloper is defined by New Jersey’s Local Housing and Redevelopment Law (the “LHRL”) as “… any person, firm, corporation, or public body that shall enter into or propose to enter into a contract with a municipality or other redevelopment entity for the redevelopment or rehabilitation of an area in need of redevelopment…”.

Thus, for a redeveloper to make use of the LHRL, a municipality must have first declared a property or properties as an area in need of redevelopment.


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Wayne, NJ-based Toys “R” Us filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond) on Monday (Case no. 17-34665). Toys “R” Us operates more than 1,600 locations for both Toy “R” Us and Babies “R” Us and employs approximately 64,000 people. The chain is seeking borrow money in order to pay suppliers by restructuring $5 billion in long-term debt. The company noted that the approaching holiday shopping season accounts for 40% of its net sales.

Prior to the filing, almost all the company’s vendors sought cash in advance before shipping products, forcing Toys “R” Us to raise $1 billion for suppliers. The company’s debt is attributed to a $6.6 billion buyout in 2005 led by KKR & Co. LP, Bain Capital LP and Vornado Realty Trust.


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Thirty six years ago today, MTV was launched. The song by the The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star” was the first video played. Non-video, radio artists, like Christopher Cross (remember “Sailing?”), suffered, by not being ready for TV. Yet, how many people today actually think about a singer’s video and not their song? Heck, when was the last time you saw a video on MTV?

Just like MTV didn’t really kill all the radio stars, Amazon, demographic changes, and consumer tastes are not killing all the shopping centers and malls. Rather, these developments are changing the way we use and see the shopping center and mall experience.

True, there are a number of so-called “dead” centers. At one time, these were popular (just like Christopher Cross), anchored by Sears, JCPenney, or some other big box store that drew traffic. The structure, zoning, and high traffic areas with good visibility to the community still exist. There is just no draw… no “MTV” … to bring people in. This presents opportunities for developers to resurrect “dead” centers.


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In the United States, the general rule about legal fees is that each party to a lawsuit pays his or her own fees. However, like any rule, there are exceptions. In the event a contract specifically provides for the payment of legal fees, or a statute allows the recovery of legal fees, the prevailing party may apply to the court for reimbursement. There is no statute in New Jersey that allows recovery of legal fees for a successful tax appeal. The tenant may only recover the fees from a landlord if the lease expressly provides for such a recovery, or if the landlord separately agrees to pay them. As the parties learned in Crosspoint Developers v. Wegmans Food Markets, the express terms of the lease can lead to unforeseen results.

Lowes, as a tenant in a retail shopping center, filed a tax appeal and was successful in getting a reduction in the assessment. Since the appeal involved an entire retail center, all tenants received the benefit of Lowe’s efforts through a reduction in their pro rata shares of taxes.


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Golfsmith International, Inc., a specialty golf retailer with 109 Golfsmith stores across the U.S. and 55 Golf Town stores in Canada, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday, September 14, 2016. This case follows other large sports retailer bankruptcy cases, including Sports Authority and Eastern Mountain Sports, who both filed Chapter 11 proceedings in Delaware earlier this year.

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How can retail landlords make more money? A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, entitled Shopping Malls’ New Product: Fun reveals the answer…add amusement attractions.

According to the article, many U.S. malls are profiting from entertainment tenants and amusement attractions, including go-kart racing, indoor rope climbing, laser tag, skydiving simulators, escape rooms, high-tech golf driving ranges, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf, state-of-the-art movie theaters, and new bowling and dining options.


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Have you ever read a confusing contract and scratched your head? Whether it is a lease, operating agreement, or other contract, it is imperative to understand what you want. It is also important to negotiate and draft agreements quickly to avoid losing opportunities. Failure to clearly say what you mean can result in unexpected costs, disputes and lawsuits.

  1. Avoid Ambiguous Words

Black’s Law Dictionary states that language in a contract is “ambiguous” when it is reasonably capable of being understood in more than one sense. An easy tip is to avoid ambiguous words. However, this can be a challenge, since even words that seem clear to you, may not be clear to others.


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A transit strike could hurt many people. Many people could suffer delays, or be left without a way to get to work. Businesses could also suffer without employees and customers. And commercial, retail, and other property and business owners could lose business and sales.

The looming strike is a reminder that although you can’t stop