Levin Management closes more than 100 leases in 2023, illustrating industry’s momentum

The dining, beauty, fitness, specialty retail and service sectors showed their strength in 2023, driving another strong year for brick-and-mortar dealmaking, according to a Wednesday announcement from Levin Management Corp.

The North Plainfield-based commercial real estate services firm closed more than 100 new leases, renewals and extensions, and license agreements over the past 12 months — illustrating the industry’s momentum and property owners’ focus on competitive positioning for their properties.

LMC’s just over 1 million square feet in transaction volume last year reflects quality and diversity.

“We saw continued expansion and commitments involving anchor tenants, national retailers and franchise brands of all sizes and across multiple categories,” Sidney Singer, the firm’s vice president of leasing, said. “We also witnessed movement among independently owned retailers, from creative startups to established businesses.”

To that end, LMC’s 2023 deal highlights include commitments with Target (undisclosed location), specialty grocer Subzi Mandi (Clifton), KPOT Korean BBQ & Hot Pot (Woodbridge), NovaCare Rehabilitation (West Chester, Pennsylvania), beauty concept Strand Salon Studios (Bridgewater), Fortunoff Backyard Store and Charleys Cheesesteaks & Wings (Falls Church, Virginia) and AMVETS Thrift Store and Erie Gymnastics Center (Erie, Pennsylvania).

“Our talented leasing team’s achievements demonstrate that well-located, quality open-air shopping centers are attracting desirable tenants,” LMC’s Matthew Harding, CEO, said. “Repositioning space and filling it with the right users — brands that complement an existing retail mix and add to a property’s dynamic — are the keys to sustained success.”

At several shopping centers, LMC’s 2023 leasing illustrates the progress of long-term strategic initiatives to retain tenants.

LMC recorded 54 store openings within its 125-property, 16 million-square-foot leasing and management portfolio last year, including notable names like Raising Cane’s at New York City’s Paramount Building, along with CVS Pharmacy (Manasquan), Catch Air (Jersey City), Mattress Warehouse (North Brunswick) and JBBQ & Shabu Shabu (Commack, New York).

According to Coresight Research, retailers were on track to open almost 5,500 stores in the U.S. over the past 12 months.

“With strong leasing over the past two years and through 2023, more stores opened than closed in the past 12 months, a significant achievement amid high-profile bankruptcies,” Harding noted.

According to Harding, dealmaking velocity has justified reinvestment in properties, and the firm’s in-house construction management team’s own activity on behalf of its clients illustrates this point. In 2023, LMC launched a major redevelopment at Blue Star Shopping Center in Watchung, which was catalyzed by an in-center relocation and new, 72,000-square-foot lease with long-time tenant ShopRite. The team is also active with fitouts and pad site developments throughout its portfolio.

Beyond retail, LMC also spearheaded the ground-up construction of two industrial buildings to expand Rutgers Industrial Center, an established campus in Piscataway. Both buildings were leased prior to their completion, to Carrier (78,000 square feet) and RCF USA (30,000 square feet).