By Peg Quann | Bucks County Courier Times
The new I-95 connector to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes makes for easy north-south access, as does the county’s other entrances for Pennsylvania Turnpike in Bristol Township and Bensalem, offering an easy drive to western locations. Business looking at Bucks County have taken notice.
Lower Bucks County is “one of the hottest, most-sought-after industrial locations in the entire country right now,” industry expert James Scott said Monday as he announced a sale in Bristol Township’s Keystone Industrial Park.
Scott, a senior vice president of the real estate firm Colliers, said that a 100,800-square-foot building on 6.79 acres in the park off Interstate 95 was traded recently for $6.8 million. The property at 220 Rittenhouse Circle, was owned by a private partnership called 220 Rittenhouse LLC. Its new owner is Penwood Real Estate Investment Management, based in West Hartford, Connecticut.
“Our region and the Bristol area specifically, is one of the hottest markets in the country from a logistics and transportation standpoint. Bristol sits at the intersection of the major north-south corridors via I-95 and the New Jersey Turnpike, along with westward access via the Pennsylvania Turnpike,” Scott said. “The recently completed interchange connecting those highways has further increased the benefits.”
Several factors are driving business to Bucks County, he explained.
First is location, a selling point in any real state deal. The new I-95 connector to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes makes for easy north-south access, as does the county’s other entrances for Pennsylvania Turnpike in Bristol Township and Bensalem, offering an easy drive to western locations.
The connector opened in September, 2018, with the promise that the long-awaited $450 million project would spur economic development in Lower Bucks. Officials said it would lead to new commercial and industrial development, bringing thousands of new jobs to the area.
Also driving business here is what’s going on in nearby regions, Scott said. The redevelopment of New York industrial sites for commercial and residential use, specifically on Long Island, Staten Island and in Brooklyn, as well as skyrocketing rents in those locations and in North and Central New Jersey, have pushed businesses to look further south. “Pricing for sale and lease is at an all-time high,” Scott said.
Another big factor is the available of workers in this region.
“The trend for a while,” Scott said, was that firms were moving westward to Central Pennsylvania and to the Lehigh Valley but that once they set up shop in those small towns, they found they “depleted the labor supply.” So they’re moving back to the more densely populated areas of Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Philadelphia and close to New York and the Washington-Baltimore region.
“He’s exactly right,” said Jorden Krauss, executive director of the Bucks County Industrial Development Authority. “We have the labor force, infrastructure and the roads, and we have access to all those markets. ... We also have a pretty low tax base for both business and industry and Bucks County is a beautiful place to live.”
Krauss said other new industries are planning to move to Bucks next year, including one that will use 200,000 square feet of space at the former U.S. Steel site in Falls, and another planning for a 70,000-square-foot site in Bensalem. He did not disclose the firms’ names.
In January, Urban Outfitters announced its plans for a 309,000-square-foot industrial facility at the Bristol Commerce Center in Bristol Township, where it has signed a lease to operate a fabric warehouse. The move was said to generate up to 200 jobs at the start and up to 600 over time.
“You can expect a lot of development over the next 10 years,” Krauss said. He pointed out that the industrial authority offers tax refinancing for industrial or manufacturing enterprises to reduce their costs if they move to Bucks County and ask for assistance. Like Scott, he’s seen more people coming from New York and New Jersey, where most taxes on income are higher than Pennsylvania’s flat 3.07% tax.
Scott said that he has started seeking tenants to lease space at the Keystone site and that it is generating interest. The new owners plan to expand the loading docks on the property from seven to 11 to accommodate extra truck traffic.
“We are already seeing terrific leasing activity with companies drawn to the site by the ample loading areas, 100-plus car parking, immediate highway access, dense and diverse labor pool, and landlord’s flexibility to divide the space for those needing less than the full building,” he said.
For additional information on this transaction, or further insight on other market topics, please contact:
Jim Scott, CCIM