Levin Management Corporation (LMC) is celebrating a milestone year in 2017. With roots dating back to its predecessor organization’s founding, the company is marking 65 years of progress – an impressive achievement in the perpetually fluid and competitive commercial real estate services industry. The privately held, North Plainfield-based company and recognized industry leader maintains a diversified, retail-focused management portfolio of approximately 95 properties totaling 13 million square feet in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.
According to Bill Farber, LMC chief executive officer, change has remained one of the only constants through the company’s history. “When Philip J. Levin pioneered shopping center development in 1952, he recognized and responded to shifting consumer shopping patterns tied to post-World War II suburban development, spurred by the automobile,” noted Farber, who joined Philip Levin’s development organization (subsequently named Levin Properties) in 1970.
“Today as a third-party services provider we are witnessing an interesting and encouraging tale of bricks-and-mortar endurance, illustrated by the ongoing transformation of shopping center tenant mixes,” said Matthew K. Harding, LMC president and chief operating officer. “Open-air centers, which comprise the bulk of our portfolio, are transitioning from places that simply offer goods and services to sources for recreation and community. The changes are not singular – or linear. We are seeing new types of retail space users and the evolution of established brands working to adapt to digital-age demands and socio-economic shifts.”
A Solid Foundation
The Levin organization created an extensive retail real estate portfolio throughout the nation. As one of its inaugural projects, the company built New Jersey’s first open-air center, the still-thriving, 260,000-square-foot Somerset Shopping Center in Bridgewater.
From these roots LMC, which originated as the management arm of the organization, evolved to deliver a full range of third-party services to other retail property owners beginning in the 1980s. Led by seasoned executives with long-term company affiliations, LMC has experienced consistent growth.
The late Janice Levin assumed leadership of the entire Levin organization following her husband’s death in 1971. Farber was named chief operating officer of LMC in 1985 and chief executive officer in 2001. That same year Harding, who has been affiliated with LMC since 1986, assumed his current position. Farber and Harding have led the company’s expansion and have overseen the emergence of LMC as a trusted single-source commercial real estate services provider for institutional and private owners.
LMC helps its clients evaluate options, operate properties and create case-specific solutions to protect and improve asset value. The company offers leasing, property management, financial management and reporting, construction and development, lease administration, marketing services, and acquisition and disposition consulting services. It specializes in repositioning and renovating commercial real estate with a particular emphasis on resolving vacancies and enhancing tenant mix – areas that have become particularly vital in an increasingly competitive market.
“We have distinguished ourselves as a firm large enough to excel in assignments of any scale while continuing to employ a hands-on, proprietary approach,” Harding explained. Through the years, the firm – an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers – has earned dozens of accolades and honors, most recently including “top managers” rankings by National Real Estate Investor, Commercial Property Executive, NJBIZ and Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal.
Evolution and Insight
LMC’s services continue to evolve with new technologies, efficiencies and sustainability-focused initiatives to serve new generations of properties, investors and tenants. For example, during the past year the company formalized its consumer engagement marketing services, offering website, digital advertising and social media support as an extension of its property management platform. Additionally, the firm completed its first solar rooftop installation – at Capitol Plaza in Ewing.
LMC has become an industry thought leader as well. Its Retail Sentiment Surveys gauge the strength of the retail industry from a street-level perspective. LMC polls the store managers of its 1,000+ tenants three times annually, gathering information on current sales and traffic numbers, and on performance expectations. The surveys also ask timely questions about hiring patterns, the evolving impact of ecommerce, key events and other socio-economic factors that may be influencing progress.
As LMC embarks on this special anniversary year, the company reports that its tenants enjoy a positive outlook. “About three quarters of respondents in our recent Outlook Survey said they are optimistic about their anticipated 2017 performance – the highest percentage in the poll’s six-year history,” Harding noted. “From our vantage point we are seeing a very positive story – one illustrating the ongoing relevance of physical stores. The retail industry will continue to transform itself, creating opportunities for new and expanding players. We look forward to being part of that story for another 65 years – and more.”