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The Market for Potential Land Use Options for the Reading Airport Site Owned by Berks County Industrial Development Authority and Strategic Recommendations for Planning, Marketing, and Development of the Site
Client: Berks County Indusrial Development Authority
dashed line separator The Berks County Industrial Development Authority (BCIDA) engaged Gruen Gruen + Associates (GG+A) to evaluate the market demand for industrial flex and office uses at the approximately 155-acre Reading Airport site owned by the BCIDA and the factors that affect the types of land uses and real estate products potentially developed at the BCIDA Reading Airport site.

GG+As analysis considered the market from both micro and macro perspectives. At the micro level, we conducted eight interviews with knowledgeable developers and real estate brokers. We conducted two interviews with representatives of businesses operating in Greater Reading, including one of Berks Countys largest employers and a business with a long history of operating at the Reading Airport site. We conducted 10 interviews with community leaders and economic development and workforce specialists knowledgeable about the local economy and labor base and workforce needs of local businesses. We also interviewed the Reading Airport manager.

We directed these interviews in conjunction with a review of area industrial flex- and office- space supply to identify the primary geographic areas from which users tend to move and which would compete with the BCIDA Reading Airport site for users. We also elicited information and insight about the advantages and disadvantages of the Reading Airport site for industrial and office uses.

GG+A designed and analyzed a survey of industrial businesses aimed at obtaining information about their location decisions and potential expansion plans and interest in locating at the BCIDAReading Airport site. In addition, we interviewed representatives of three incubator facilities and synthesized results to identify a shared workspace model for an existing building on the site.

At the macro level, we collected and analyzed time-series data on the office and industrial real estate markets. We also collected and analyzed labor force data and trends. We projected demand for building space in the relevant market area by analyzing employment data for firms in economic sectors likely to use space similar to land uses that could be developed at the BCIDA Reading Airport site. We compared the amount of space and land demand to the amount and characteristics of the supply of comparable space and land in competing business and industrial parks within the relevant market area.

In addition to preparing an extensive report describing the findings, forecasts and conclusions, GG+A provided strategic recommendations for the planning, entitlement, marketing, and disposition of the site including a name and branding strategy for the development, business targets, land use products, and an innovative approach to establishing land value and facilitating transactions /development through a deferred purchase price approach based on the residual land value of the built space that would result in BCIDA higher value than would otherwise obtain.

At the request of the BCIDA, a GG+A principal contacted a prospective user that had previously declined to pursue negotiations further because of disagreements about price and deal structure. The user was so intrigued by the development and transaction structure concept suggested by GG+A that it agreed to resume discussions with the BCIDA, which appointed a subcommittee to carry on the process GG+As Principal revived based on GG+As recommended concept.

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