UCD Member Spotlight: AMC Delancey is Growing into University City

Nov 18, 2019 7 months ago

In nearly 30 years of real estate development and property management, AMC Delancey has become involved in all angles of the real estate field. Throughout their long history, they’ve invested in a wide range of asset classes – from hotels and golf courses, to land and industrial properties. Like many businesses, the 2009 financial collapse offered the company the opportunity to rethink its long-term strategy and reposition itself as a leader in multi-family apartments and multi-family mixed-use assets.

AMC Delancey takes a legacy and generational approach to investing, and deploys the majority of their staff to service rental units in several desirable Center City and South Philadelphia submarkets. In 2017, the company acquired its first property west of the Schuylkill River in University City’s Walnut Hill neighborhood. There were several factors that made Verona Plaza, located at 4715-23 Walnut Street, a great fit to begin AMC Delancey’s West Philadelphia portfolio.

According to AMC Delancey Vice President J.J. Berenato, University City’s growth and density, proximity to public transit, and standing as a hub for a highly skilled and talented workforce made the neighborhood an ideal location for expansion. Additionally, they count four mid-rise/garden-style buildings among their South Philadelphia holdings. Their track record with these properties – which are similar in age and physical characteristics to Verona Plaza – made them confident they could be successful with this acquisition in University City. Finally, Verona Plaza checked all their boxes for a strong asset: it is just three blocks from the Market-Frankford Line; it is easily accessible to all of the major hospitals and universities in the neighborhood; and with rising developments such as Schuylkill Yards and uCity Square set to boost the job market even further, the community is retaining more graduates than ever before.

AMC Delancey is especially seeing evidence of that last point in the composition of their tenant base in Verona Plaza. Residents of the apartment building trend younger than those in their buildings in Center City and South Philly.

However, one of the most notable outcomes of this project is that AMC Delancey has been able to successfully retain pre-acquisition residents alongside the new tenants that the building is attracting. Berenato said, “Typically when a new landlord acquires a tenant’s building it is not well received. However, residents seem to be very appreciative of the upgrades we’ve made at the property and active management.” He continued, “Within 90-days of acquiring the building we installed security surveillance, improved the front landscaping, upgraded all common area lights to LED fixtures, painted the corridors, and replaced all carpets in the hallways.”

With just over two years of property management in the books in University City, AMC Delancey is optimistic about their future in the District. “As apartment projects under construction or renovation are completed, we believe the retail and 270 current restaurants will continue to grow and expand westward.”

In the meantime, AMC Delancey plans to continue to get its bearings and take the temperature of University City’s real estate climate. University City’s 2.4 square mile footprint is much larger than all of the submarkets in Center City and South Philadelphia where AMC Delancey owns properties. Sufficiently settled in Walnut Hill, they are always looking for opportunities to grow into the neighborhood, while keeping their eye out for vintage multi-family properties.

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