For Heller, half a decade of full occupancy in New Jersey shows longtime strategy is still working
Heller Industrial Parks Inc. has a strategy, sticks to it — and has seen it pay off.
The Edison-based developer of industrial real estate said it has maintained full occupancy of its New Jersey portfolio for five consecutive years now, and maintained full occupancy of its 15 million-square-foot national portfolio in 2016.
Heller President Brian Banaszynski attributed the success of the company to its management strategy, business model and the lasting impact of its late founder, Ike Heller.
“We own, lease and manage, and we develop our own (properties), too,” said Banaszynski, who has been the president of Heller for more than three years. While president, Banaszynski has continued to uphold Ike Heller’s approach to industrial real estate.
Heller Industrial Parks is privately held, sells none of the assets it develops and chooses to remain debt-free, even in periods of expansion.
“Mr. Heller always believed if you didn’t have any debt, you would be able to survive the downturns. … It has proven very successful to be debt-free,” Banaszynski said.
The company’s biggest industrial park, in Edison, is located at Exit 10 just off the New Jersey Turnpike, and comprises 8.5 million square feet. The company also holds assets in Somerset and South Brunswick, and plans to increase its footprint in the latter by 2.6 million square feet.
Heller remains cautious in some cases, saying it is monitoring the market conditions before planning to continue the development of the South Brunswick project.
In 2016, Heller completed 52 transactions involving 5 million square feet of industrial space; 1.25 million square feet involved new leases and expansions, while 3.75 million square feet involved renewals. And, like Ike Heller, Banaszynski has maintained a philosophy of diverse tenants for risk management purposes.
“Heller has made a conscious strategy to not lease a large building, like a million square feet, to a single tenant,” said Banaszynski. The company has allowed single tenants to lease half a million square feet, but only if spread across different properties.
As a result, in 2016, Heller’s largest new lease involved 103,000 square feet in South Brunswick, occupied by the Tile Shop, which was represented by David Saltzman. Roland Foods, a current tenant, was represented by Joel Lubin when it renewed a 252,000-square-foot footprint in South Brunswick, while adding another 80,000 square feet.
Outside of the industrial arena, Heller is currently developing a 640-unit mixed-use project with 15,000 square feet of retail space in Harrison, where Ike Heller once ran a toy company.
Banaszynski explained the Harrison project had been initiated prior to his tenure, and because of Ike Heller’s relationship with the town. He expects Heller to otherwise stay within industrial real estate.
On a national level, the company currently manages 1.2 million square feet in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and 420,000 square feet in Houston in Texas, as well as 1.9 million square feet spread across Pennsylvania, Illinois and Kentucky.
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