Amid the pandemic, many commercial real estate projects were forced to hit pause due to government shutdowns, supply chain issues and other unforeseen circumstances. In a bustling city like Philadelphia, where multi-family housing and commercial space is in demand and development timelines are often tight, delays in these types of projects can be detrimental to the market and to the project itself.
However, despite the setbacks and hurdles, Hightop Development was able to persevere during the pandemic.
Across from the famous Pat’s and Geno’s in South Philly, Hightop Development was bringing to fruition a longtime vision for the Wharton Flats, a four-story, mixed-use project consisting of 21 apartments, three townhomes and 5,400-square-feet of ground floor commercial space.
Prior to Hightop Development, numerous developers had attempted to build on the iconic land at 9th and Wharton. However, due to community pushback and concern surrounding the use of the land, none had successfully moved forward with any of their proposed plans.
In 2018, Hightop Development set their sights on the property and after much deliberation amongst the community, the deal for the parcel of land closed on June 20, 2019 with construction immediately beginning that fall, long before anyone knew what was going to unfold in 2020. Less than six months into construction, the effects of the pandemic were fully felt, and the site was forced to shut down per State of Pennsylvania orders in March 2020.
“To have our project shut-down just six months into construction was difficult. There was a lot of work that went into securing the land and developing plans for the building, and we knew that beyond the construction delay, that supply chain delays would also impact the overall timing of the project,” said David Landskroner, Founder and CEO, Hightop Real Estate & Development. “Our biggest concern was that we wouldn’t be able to finish the project. However, working with WSFS, we were able to make the necessary adjustments to construction and financial plans, such as building in a cushion for timing delays, cost overruns, and interest reserve, to remain on track despite the unforeseen setbacks.”
In spring of 2021, Wharton Flats officially opened for leasing, providing another housing option at a time when demand was skyrocketing. The project was deemed a success as it received higher than anticipated lease rates and sales prices, and secured Insomnia Cookies as an anchor for its ground floor retail space.
“The economic growth of the City of Philadelphia is important to us,” said Joe Walker, SVP, Commercial Real Estate WSFS. “While the pandemic certainly made it more difficult for development projects in the city, we are proud to be able to support companies like Hightop Development as they provided additional housing options during an uncertain time.”
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