Newark sees uptick in commercial real-estate sales

The Newark commercial real estate market has heated up in recent months with five properties – three of them University of Delaware student housing complexes – and $105.7 million changing hands.

Jenkintown, PA-based Galman Group bought the Park Place and Studio Green apartment complexes for nearly $41 million in May and will sink $30 million into a total renovation of the 702 units and market them to non-students, said Jeff Gopshtein, vice president of acquisitions for Galman, which describes its strategy
as “luxury living at affordable prices.”

“We’re bullish on the entire area between UD hitting enrollment records year after year; the growth of the STAR campus; and the opening soon of the upgraded Amtrak station,” Gopshtein said in explaining why Galman was converting the complex.

The two complexes have already been renamed Lehigh Flats (276 units) and Thorn Flats (428 units) and will be renovated over a 2-3 year period, with the addition of “top-of-the-line amenities, including in-unit washers and dryers and upgraded common areas,” he said. Galman, which owns and manages more than 3,100 units in eight Delaware communities, is kicking off the renovations as its residents’ leases expire over the next few weeks. Student housing leases normally run from August to July to align with the college school year and will move residents around so it can do the renovations “building by building.”

Galman plans to lease the apartments by unit rather than bedroom, restoring walls that had been torn down to accommodate multi-room college setups. One-bedroom apartments will lease for up to $1,175 and two-bedroom units will lease for up to $1,325 per month.

Meanwhile, New York-based Vesper Holdings paid $48 million in June for the 169-unit Retreat at Newark but will keep those student housing after $1 million in capital improvements at the 597-unit complex that is unique for its inclusion of cottage-style units, Vesper Co-Founder Isaac Sitt said in a prepared statement. He declined to respond to request for additional information.

Vesper owns student housing at 21 schools in 13 states, managing them under its Texas based Campus Life & Style subsidiary.

In other Newark real-estate news, Columbia Pacific Advisors completed the $2.8 million purchase of a vacant property at 924 Barksdale Road from the International Literacy Association (ISL) and received approval in late March to build a 137-bed assisted living facility that will include 26 memory-care suites from patients suffering from dementia.

Director of Investor Relations Tracy Dolan declined comment but published reports based on the company’s request for Newark City Council approval indicated the company plans to build a 302,742-square-foot facility on the property, which housed Newark Charter School trailers from 2001 to 2003 and is adjacent to the ILA’s headquarters. The request said the three-story building will have a total of 137 beds, plus a common area that will feature a café, beauty salon, theater, fitness center, arts-and-crafts room and other amenities.

Wilmington-based SSN Hotels paid $13.9 million for the 120-room Four Points by Sheraton Newark Christiana Wilmington hotel at 56 South Old Baltimore Pike. It will begin $1 million in renovations in late 2021, said SSN President Peter Bhai, whose company will operate 23 hotels after it completes the purchase of hotels in Hershey, PA, and Alexandria, VA, in the next few weeks.

SSN has also owned the Red Roof Inn at 1119 South College Ave. since buying in 1998 for $2.85 million, and Bhai says plans that were approved last July to demolish the hotel and replace it with a smaller 98-room Tru by Hilton and a 5,100-square-foot convenience store are now on hold. 

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