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  • Writer's pictureAndre Watson

Bridgeport developer looks for partner on ‘transformative’ riverfront project

A planned 250-unit apartment building in Bridgeport along the Schuylkill River.

After a delay on its 250-unit apartment building in Bridgeport along the Schuylkill River, Pinnacle Realty Development Co. is looking for a joint venture partner.

Though the development site is listed for sale, Pinnacle’s preference is to partner with another developer to complete the building, company President Anthony Maras said.

The apartment building is part of Pinnacle’s larger plans for the site, at 55 E. Front St., which include 356 townhouses and 7,000 square feet of retail space with an additional 12 residential units. Harleysville-based Pinnacle is selling finished lots to homebuilder Lennar, which is constructing the townhouses.

Maras estimated the project’s entire cost is more than $160 million. He called it “transformative” for Bridgeport, which had a population of 5,066 in 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The development would allow for the population to increase by about 1,200 residents, or nearly 25%.

Given Pinnacle’s involvement with the entire project, the company wants to remain active with the apartments.

“Ideally, we would find an equity partner in this and [joint venture] it,” Maras said. “The theory was that the best avenue to find that [joint venture] partner would be to look for someone from a sales standpoint.”

The 35-acre site is in between Conshohocken and King of Prussia and on the south side of the Schuylkill River across from Norristown. It’s less than a mile from the Bridgeport Regional Rail station.

Pinnacle previously planned to begin construction on the apartment building this past summer. Due to the challenging capital market, construction was delayed. When the project started, interest rates were around 3% and capital requirements were around 20%, Maras said. Now, those figures have increased to 8% and 30%, respectively.

A rendering shows the planned 250-unit apartment building at 55 E. Front St. in Bridgeport on the south side of the Schuylkill River.

Maras said Bridgeport officials had been asking for an updated timeline and the way to build it fastest would be to find a partner.

Pinnacle is now eyeing a construction start in late spring or early summer 2024.

“There’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears to do this,” Maras said. “We’re looking for the best avenue to build the apartment building because we made a commitment to the borough. This will be the engine for them revitalizing the borough.”

Development at the site has been planned for two decades. Two years after a fire destroyed the 500,000-square-foot office and industrial complex in 2001, O’Neill Properties Group proposed a 250-unit apartment complex with 325 townhomes. The project never came to fruition and in 2017 the company returned the property back to the lender, UC Funds.

In 2018, Linden Lane Capital Partners had similar plans for the site. But again, construction never followed through.

In 2019 and 2020, Philadelphia-based PRDC Properties put the property under agreement and worked with borough officials to receive necessary zoning approvals. Pinnacle since took over the project from PRDC.

The listing doesn’t have a price but Maras said the property could be valued roughly around $15 million.

Global Real Estate Advisors’ Ken Wellar has the listing. With approvals now in place and site work substantially completed, the site is desirable because a new developer wouldn’t need to go through the approval process, Wellar said. Given the limited opportunities for suburban multifamily developments, Wellar viewed the approvals in place as a key attraction for prospective developers.

“I expect a high interest in a lot of the national multifamily developers,” Wellar said. “Suburban [multifamily] development, even given the environment we’re in, is still sought after.”

A rendering shows the rooftop of a planned 250-unit apartment building in Bridgeport along the Schuylkill River.

Pinnacle’s plan features 133 covered parking spots, 156 uncovered parking spots, a rooftop terrace overlooking the Schuylkill River, a fitness center, yoga studio and in-unit washers and dryers.

Lennar’s townhomes are mostly selling in the $400,000 to $500,000 range, Maras said, showing the demand to live in the location, which is within the Upper Merion Area School District.

The average household income within a 5-mile radius of the site is more than $120,000, Wellar said. He estimates rental prices could be slightly below what they are in King of Prussia.

“Pulling from a lot of tenants who work in Conshohocken and King of Prussia, with a better value here, you’ll be able to easily fill it up with strong demographics of tenants,” Wellar said.

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