How we work with Anchor Institutions

By Matthew Stein

This is the final installment of our III-Part series on anchor institutions.

MSC Retail recently added a new division to our ever growing and evolving company: MSC University (MSC U). MSC U is helping anchor institutions improve the experience of being a community member through activating districts, campuses, corridors and buildings in a unique and meaningful way. We partner with universities, hospitals, not-for-profits and the development community in an effort to craft merchandising visions and revitalize the retail and hospitality offerings of these environments. All of our efforts are based on reflecting the vision and objectives of the partner with whom we’ve aligned ourselves.

Our partners are all very different and have varied objectives, allowing us to apply the full depth of our experience, which is really pretty cool (and fun) for us. Partners turn to us for everything from the master planning of an entire neighborhood, to finding super cool tenants to bring to a campus.

A little shameless self-promotion here, we’ve partnered with University City District (UCD), Drexel University, and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) in West Philadelphia. The institutions within this larger district are not only impacting the district itself, but the city of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley region at large. If you talked to these folks, they’d tell you they have a global reach, and honestly, we’d be hard-pressed to disagree.

These institutions are land banks and property owners. Being in the real estate industry, we seriously find them to be a great partner. Universities turn to us for guidance in campus developments, as well as for our brokerage capabilities in finding the appropriate retail and hospitality for their campus.

We’ve been able to help them by creating a retail analysis for University City District (UCD) in which we evaluated the potential for additional retail within different corridors in UCD, made recommendations for implementation, and provided next step initiatives. MSC U also wrote Penn’s Retail Master Plan as an assessment of their on and off-campus retail holdings. MSC worked directly with Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services to measure, analyze, and evaluate the retail demand and uses of off-campus real estate. Additionally, we have participated in a number of planning efforts with Drexel, ranging from redefining the Chestnut Street corridor to the recently announced acquisition of University City High School.

We feel strongly about the positive impacts anchor institutions can have and are committed to helping anchor institutions engage with their communities to fulfill their duties of civic engagement.