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Strawbridge & Clothier building to be occupied by retail chain

A new tenant will soon occupy the first and second floors of the old Strawbridge & Clothier building in downtown Philadelphia. The former site of the iconic department store has been unoccupied since 2006, but another retail chain plans to open there in October.

The coming months will undoubtedly involve construction and renovation to accommodate the New York-based clothing store Century 21, which is not to be confused with the real estate firm. Century 21 sells designer products at discount prices, and the downtown Philadelphia location will be the company's ninth.

Leasing a commercial property that hasn't seen use in years requires careful planning from all parties involved. Commercial leases are complicated contracts that require precise and thorough language to reduce risk and protect against any future pitfalls. Common issues that arise relate to store hour regulations and marketing displays, along with disputes with other tenants in a similar field of business.

Lessees should also have an attorney investigate the history and state of the property, as well as the property owner.

Likewise, if a company is purchasing a commercial property, then the property should be investigated for issues such as pending lawsuits, unpaid taxes, easements and liens. A thorough investigation may also include looking into environmental reports and having an engineer examine the property's environmental impact.

In short, many legal bases must be covered to protect a business from liability when purchasing or leasing a commercial property. An attorney with experience in this area of the law can help lay the legal foundation for a successful transaction.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "NYC retail chain moving to former Philly store," April 25, 2014

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