Philadelphia Business Journal – Bucks business park slated for $10M in upgrades

By   – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal – April 22, 2019

Rubenstein Partners plans to invest $10 million in upgrades to what it has rebranded as Makefield Crossing, an eight-building office complex it bought last fall for $85 million.

The property has long been known as Lower Makefield Corporate Center but along with the renovations, Rubenstein believed a new name was also in the offing. “There is value in the Makefield name and it is one of the best performing assets so we didn’t want to totally lose it but corporate center has lost some of its luster,” said Lou Merlini, vice president at Rubenstein. “I think you could argue that places of work have transitioned into having more of a hospitality feel to them and the corporate center name detracts from that.”

At Makefield Crossing, Rubenstein’s plan is to position the property as two separate campuses and each will get interior and exterior renovations. At the north campus, an asphalt parking area in front of the buildings will be replaced with a courtyard that will be activated with seating, food trucks and activities. New landscaping and signage will also be incorporated. “We think it will transform the feel of working at this campus,” Merlini said.

On the interior, lobbies, restrooms and common areas will be renovated and a cafe, lounge, conference area and fitness center will be added and will serve the north campus, which consists of five buildings totaling 190,183 square feet.

While the south campus consists of four office buildings, Rubenstein purchased three — 770, 790 and 800 Township Line Road — totaling 276,533 square feet. W.P. Carey owns the building it didn’t buy. The south campus will get many of the same upgrades as the north campus on the interior and exterior including the creation of a large green space that and an indoor and outdoor lounge area.

While Rubenstein is still going through the approval process, it expects to begin the work this summer. Norr is the architect.

Philadelphia-based Rubenstein focuses on buying properties that need improvements whether cosmetic, shoring up vacancies or both and prefers to buy in areas with strong demographics. “This checks all those boxes,”Merlini said. “There are great demographics, the buildings are under capitalized, we acquired them at a good price and have the ability to put in $10 million. We think once we’re done, there won’t be anything like it in the immediate market.”

Bucks County has one of the softer office markets int he region with vacancy nearing in excess of 15 percent, according to Newmark Knight Frank data. That, however, isn’t uncommon of office markets in the northern suburbs. Lower Makefield is well positioned because it is on the border with New Jersey and can attract tenants from multiple markets and a wider reach.

Rubenstein bought last fall the portfolio from American International Group, which took control of the properties during the recession. The buildings that were bought were 80 percent occupied at the time of the sale. Its biggest tenant is Crown Holdings, which relocated its headquarters out of Philadelphia into 60,000 square feet at 770 Township Line Road.