JPMorgan Chase has snapped up a large tract from the shopping center and office investor PREIT.
The Chester County Press reported the sale of the 187-acre tract for a reported $11 million. PREIT (formerly Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust) confirmed the sale to an undisclosed party in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
A JPMorgan Chase spokesperson said the company had no comment at this time.
JPMorgan Chase’s plans for the undeveloped tract known as White Clay Point will be watched in Delaware, which is the home to a large cluster of operations for the largest for-profit private employer in Delaware.
The company has a reported headcount of more than 10,000. The largest private employer in Delaware is Christiana Care.
Wilmington is the location of the financial service giant’s credit card headquarters. The company also has a technology hub near Wilmington and has sites in the Newark,Bear, and Stanton areas. The company also has close ties with the University of Delaware.
Even though JPMorganChase has expressed confidence in Delaware, the transactions is expected to be closely watched.
A New Garden site will raise concerns that JPMorgan Chase could shift jobs or expand to the north, although the site would not be convenient to interstate highways and SEPTA trains for commuting employees.
Northern Delaware has been struggling with issues relating to the quality of its public school system and the flight of more affluent residents to Chester County.
The area has a large contingent of former northern Delaware residents, including families willing to pay higher housing costs and property taxes in return for public schools with more affluent students.
A nearby residential development, Somerset Lake, was developed decades ago by a Delaware company. During a period of rapid growth by MBNA (now Bank of America), a large number of middle management employees built homes in the southern part of the county.
Not far away from White Clay is Kennett Square, which has also seen rapid development with a thriving downtown area and an influx of restaurants.
The Chester County Press said based on a conversation with a JPMorgan Chase subcontractor, the property is slated to become a mixed-use development with commercial activities and homes.
JPMorgan Chase previously announced plans to expand its retail network and lending presence in the region. It opened a full-service branch at its credit card headquarters in downtown Wilmington. The company also purchased a lot adjacent to the two high rises it had purchased earlier.
The recently acquired tract is also on the White Clay Creek watershed. The creek is a source of water in Delaware and runoff from development in Chester County has been an area of concern.
The predecessor of the seller of the track, PREIT, the Rubin family, developed Christiana Mall and has been a major office and retail developer in the region.
PREIT later sold its interest in the Delaware mall at a big profit and reinvested in other malls and shopping centers.
The real estate investment has been selling and redeveloping retail sites in a challenging market for malls.
Any project for the property could face a lengthy and perhaps contentious approval process.
The Chester County Press also noted that the White Clay tract, prior to the 2008-2009 recession,has been the subject of a legal battle involving the township, the developer and residents.