Eco-conscious shopping center developer relocates 200 year oak tree, setting precedent in preservation during development

ATLANTA (October 16, 2017) – Shopping center developers often get a bad rap for being environmentally destructive, but Halpern Enterprises defies that expectation by proactively working to preserve and relocate vegetation such as old-growth trees on its development sites.

The Ogden Oak ready for relocation. Photo credit: Cammie Bellamy (Star News)

The Ogden Oak, a 200-year-old tree, was in the path of the forthcoming Publix-anchored Ogden Market Place in Wilmington, NC. The quicker and less expensive option was to cut the tree down; however, Chairman Jack Halpern decided the development company would relocate the tree. According to Charles Worthen, a partner in Halpern’s development division, “It was important to us from the beginning to be good neighbors, good stewards of the environment, and to steer a collaborative effort to bring this project to the area the very best way possible.”

With the help of the expert arborists at Connolly Tree Preservation, a relocation plan was formed and received the backing of the Wilmington city council, mayor, and residents.  The plan involved packing up the tree’s root system, then using compressed air to pump into airbag rollers to elevate the tree. The tree was then transported to its new home on the Publix site.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo shared in an interview with WWAY TV 3 how Jack Halpern, chairman of Halpern Enterprises, “made it a goal of his to preserve as many of the trees as he possibly could … he did a magnificent job in preserving as many of the trees as he possibly could.”

Ogden Oak’s roots lifted onto airbag rollers to move it to its new home. Photo credit: Cammie Bellamy (Star News)

The decision to preserve the tree is part of the Halpern ethos and mission – to be “a positive force – a caring, committed partner – in each community” where Halpern does business. Additional conservation efforts include donating and relocating a selection of shrubbery from the planned Village at Friendly shopping center to the Healing Gardens at Cone Health Cancer Center in Greensboro, NC.

The developer is also in the process of installing solar panels at its newly constructed headquarters in Sandy Springs, Ga. When the idea was put forward to Halpern’s leadership, they were instantly interested in using the clean, unlimited, independent energy source to save on energy costs in operating the building. “We as a company are environmentally conscious – we care,” said Executive Vice President Carolyn Oppenheimer. “Installing solar panels at our headquarters will reduce our impact on the environment. We’re also exploring the idea of adding solar panels to our properties.”

Halpern’s new headquarters, which is just over a year old, was built to maximize energy efficiency and minimize its effect on the environment. The building features low-VOC paint that releases minimal toxins into the air, recyclable construction materials, high-efficiency glass to keep inside temperatures down, an exercise facility that helps employees make fewer trips by car, occupancy sensors for interior lights, LED site lights, and water-efficient commodes.

The developer also introduced an office-wide recycling program to reduce its carbon footprint. It installed two electric car chargers in the parking lot, which are shared by three Halpern employees who drive electric cars.


Ogden Oak ready for relocation | Download




Ogden Oak roots with airbags underneath | Download




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About Halpern Enterprises

Headquartered in northeast Atlanta, Halpern Enterprises owns 40 retail properties located in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee. With leasing, management and maintenance staff assigned to each shopping center, Halpern’s tenants receive personal attention and high value for their rental dollar. Halpern is continually growing its portfolio, both through acquisitions and new development, and all Halpern properties are well located in high-traffic areas convenient to major residential developments. More information is available at

As retail development stays hot, here’s what to keep in mind

by Mark Kirchhoff, CCIM


Marc Kirchhoff, CCIM, Vice President, Build to Suit Division

As we start this new year, the pace of retail development in the marketplace shows no signs of slowing down.

Gone are the days of speculative construction in geographic areas where growth is expected to take place. Instead, we’ve seen good sites and existing space in core markets utilized and absorbed, as retailers and restaurants steadily catch up to consumer demand.

Demand is so high that the RBC Capital Market Report recently estimated that around the country, retailers plan to open almost 80,000 new stores over the next two years — a staggering number. Restaurants are leading the charge in new development.

The focus on development continues to be on sites in dominant retail corridors, and since many users have essentially the same site criteria, it creates price pressure and a shortage of available sites. This means developers must become more creative in site selections.

1. How is the focus on high-quality locations impacting the real estate development process?

High-demand locations continue to dominate. Consequently, available sites in these areas tend to get a high level of interest from buyers. In many cases, retailers and restaurants relocate from under-performing locations, which means more retailers are looking to move to the same prime spots.

These conditions are why it’s important to identify a range of sites that fit the criteria for the retailer you are working for. This is a strategy Halpern uses to locate sites and create value from the start of the development process for the clients we serve.

2. What can industry professionals do to manage rising costs?

As development and construction costs continue to rise, returns get squeezed. At the same time, sites often contain challenges to be overcome — which is why it’s critical to have quality architectural and engineering partners on your team who can help value-engineer a project from the start.

Ultimately, the retailer or restaurant makes a decision based on its own economic model. Those models vary across the board, so it’s important to have quality partners from the start to maximize a project’s potential value.

3. What are the sweet spots in the marketplace right now?

Outparcels and parking lots where you can build represent some of the best options for creating successful projects in prime locations. “Carve-outs” are situated within the parking lot of a retailer, and though they are more complex projects to complete, they can yield good results for the developer and retailer.

4. What are some smart strategies developers should use in the year ahead?

If a site holds more potential for a different type of retailer than with the current retailer, it could make economic sense to buy the site with an existing tenant and relocate the tenant, or buy out the lease and repurpose the property for a better user.

In one example from my experience, an owner replaced a large casual dining chain’s location in Columbia, Missouri, with a new Chick-fil-A, which required scrapping the existing building and having the new location built from scratch. The payoff: The Chick-fil-A that replaced it has significant drawing power for the center and creates new traffic that would not be there otherwise.

Doing this is more complicated from a legal and planning perspective, but it’s worth considering as it can create substantially more value for both the retailer and developer.

Chick-fil-A location in Columbus, MO

“This was a challenging site and Marc Kirchhoff’s assistance to navigate the approval complexities proved instrumental in getting this deal across the finish line and our new store open in Columbia, Mo.” – Lynmarie Eade, Manager, Real Estate, Chick-fil-A, Inc.

Marc Kirchhoff, CCIM, is a Vice President at Halpern Enterprises, leading the company’s build-to-suit retail development division which finds and develops sites for national tenants.

This piece was originally published in Shopping Center Business.