‘Medtail’ trending as more medical services use retail spaces

Last August the former home of Good ‘N Plenty restaurant in Ronks was purchased by Well Spring Care to be converted into a 24/7 medical clinic for the Amish.

The deal was a high-profile example of an increasingly common trend.

More than ever, medical services are leasing or buying traditional retail spaces, a special real estate category known as “medtail.” These locations are attractive to tenants because of foot traffic, visibility and convenience, and landlords like the long-term leases medical users sign.

A blog post on the topic at Rock Commercial Real Estate cited research from CoStar Group that indicated about 20% of leased medical space was in retail buildings in 2022, an increase from about 16% in 2010. A survey conducted by ICSC, a trade group representing owners of these properties, found in 2020 that almost seven in 10 adults in the U.S. were visiting a health care provider – whether urgent care or some other type of medical facility – in a shopping center, indoor mall or outdoor strip mall.

The Rock article noted that retail vacancy climbed during the COVID-19 pandemic as business owners started moving inventory online and away from brick-and-mortar locations. In 2020, retail vacancy in York County hung around 8% three-quarters of the year. With rents dropping as a consequence, opportunities grew.

Medical facilities’ leasing retail spaces is often seen as a win-win for tenants and landlords. Tenants gain access to high visibility and increased consumer foot traffic, while landlords know health care providers normally bring employed, insured patients who will spend at surrounding retailers. By eating lunch after an appointment, for instance.

Landlords also are partial to the normally long-term leases medical tenants sign, leases unaffected by economic downturns. The Rock post noted as well that medical tenants tend to have a higher success rate than restaurants and other retailers.

Another factor in medtail is the depressed office vacancy rate, hampered by minimal new construction. Rock Managing Partner David Bode explained in the blog post, “The evolution of medical transitioning into available retail facilities makes sense, especially with the very low vacancy rate in the office market. Medtail tenants receive the added benefits of better visibility, higher traffic counts, and moving into areas with greater concentration of residents.”

In a follow-up call, Bode said central Pennsylvania was different from major metro areas in having a lack of office inventory.

People today want convenience, he said, and they’re likely to head to an urgent care, a common example of medtail.

The cost to build a medical facility also drives providers to seek retail answers, in malls or elsewhere, Bode said.

In addition to Well Spring Care, the Rock blog post lists several other medtail projects, including 30,000 square feet leased by WellSpan Health Services at Queensgate Towne Center in York. The space was previously a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

And Exeter Orthodontics signed a five-year lease for about 2,000 square feet in Millersville Commons, a retail strip center, while Drayer Physical Therapy leased about 1,700 square feet in Cloister Shopping Center, Ephrata.

Brad Rorabaugh, executive vice president of Bennett Williams Commercial, said it’s almost normal to have a medical provider – dentist, physical therapist, chiropractor, urgent care, etc. – in everyday shopping centers.

A recent one is Blue Mountain Veterinary Care, which opened in Forest Hills Commons, Harrisburg.

He said one advantage is that medtail providers are often more visible from the road than they would be in an office building.

The foot traffic, street signage and synergy with the other tenants “are ideal for them,” Rorabaugh said.

Powell Arms, senior vice president and managing director of retail for High Real Estate Group, said medtail is much more common these days.

He defines the trend as tending toward providers who do elective procedures, like cosmetic surgery, where the patients don’t pay with insurance and have discretionary money to spend. Both tenant and landlord like the foot traffic a retail space can offer a medical provider, which has the potential to benefit all the businesses in the shopping center.

Several medical services are interested in the retail section in Lancaster County’s The Crossings at Conestoga Creek, for example, he said.

“We are seeing a lot of it,” Arms said. “It’s a great, growing category of retail.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

New tourism trail targets coffee drinkers

Cafe One Eight at 18 W Orange St, Lancaster, is one of 21 coffee shops on the Discover Lancaster Coffee Trail. PHOTO/CAFE ONE EIGHT

Discover Lancaster is rolling out a new initiative that puts coffee drinkers on the road to Lancaster County coffee shops.

Some 20 unique coffee shops, in fact, are spread across Lancaster County and reach from Lancaster City to Ephrata.

“The rollout comes at a time when tourism has traditionally seen an uptick in out-of-town visitors arriving for the popular fall harvest season,” said Ed Harris, President & CEO of Discover Lancaster. “This is one more fun activity to add to a jam-packed itinerary to enhance the visitor experience. There’s plenty of options to find a great coffee and pumpkin-spiced latte.”

Developed in partnership with Bandwango, the Discover Lancaster Coffee Trail is the first in a series of themed trails to be rolled out in future seasons to enhance the visitor experience. Harris said the mobile passport offers a curated collection of coffee shops in Lancaster, as well as exclusive deals and discounts to favorite local coffee spots.

“From Lancaster City, to Intercourse, to Ephrata, and everywhere in between,” said Harris, “there’s a wide range of unique coffee shop experiences that can be found in our towns across Lancaster County.”

The list of participating shops on the Coffee Trail include:

Aura Espresso Room; Bird-in-hand Bakery & Cafe; Butter & Bean; Cafe 301; Cafe Arabella; Cafe One Eight; Coffee Co – Lancaster; Copper Cup; Courtyard Cafe on Main; Hudson Botanical; Javteas Gourmet Coffee Cafe; La Mattina Caffe; Mill 72 Bake Shop & Cafe; Passenger Coffee & Tea; Prince Street Cafe; Rachel’s Cafe & Creperie; September Farm Cheese; Speckled Hen Coffee; Square One Coffee Roasters; The Houston Co. Cafe; and The Roasted Rooster

“Our new mobile-based coffee trail highlights the many small businesses who have poured everything they have into opening the coffee shop of their dreams,” Harris said.

Visitors to the participating coffee shops can check-in digitally at each stop to count towards their prize. After 5 stops visitors earn a Discover Lancaster Sticker & Coaster. After 10 stops, a Discover Lancaster Coffee Mug. A Discover Lancaster Canvas Bag is earned after 15 stops. Prizes can be redeemed at Discover Lancaster visitors center.

“This is an invitation to celebrate Lancaster and bring more business to our small businesses,” said Harris. “Our mission is to educate people about what’s in our back yard. We have expectations for an ice cream trail, a brewery trail. We’re excited to roll this out and test it.”

ENB Financial reports decline in net income, increase in assets

ENB Financial Corp., the bank holding company for Ephrata National Bank, reported net income of $3.191 million for the first quarter, down 29.2% from a year ago.

Higher net interest income and a lower provision for loan losses were more than offset by lower operating income and higher operating expenses, a release explained.

National Bank operates 13 locations in Lancaster County, southeastern Lebanon County and southern Berks County.

For the three months ending March 31, ENB Financial’s net interest income increased 10.8% compared with the same period in 2021. And interest expense on deposits and borrowings decreased 19.7%.

The corporation recorded a provision for loan losses of $100,000 in the first quarter of 2022, compared with $375,000 for the first quarter of 2021.

Other quarterly income fell $1.642 million, or 30.9%, compared with the prior year, primarily due to a 61.9% decline in gains on the sale of mortgages. “Mortgage production was stable in 2022 compared to 2021, but the rapid market rate increases have affected the margin the corporation is able to obtain on the sale of mortgages,” the release noted.

Also, total operating expenses increased $1.421 million, or 15.5%, as salary and benefit expenses jumped 14.3%.

As of March 31, ENB Financial reported assets of $1.71 billion, up 11.3% from a year ago; loans of $950.6 million, up 12.9%; deposits of $1.52 billion, up 14.5%; and stockholders’ equity of $116 million, down 9.9%.

Library and literacy council awarded grant funding 

Ephrata Public Library and the York County Literacy Council were among 21 recipients statewide selected for nearly $900,000 in Digital Literacy and Workforce Development Grants. 

The awards, from the Department of Labor & Industry, will connect Pennsylvanians with the skills they need to navigate the technology platforms used in today’s workplaces. 

Ephrata Public Library received $45,000. A release noted that close to 12% of the community lives below the poverty line and 39% are barely above it. Those without reliable internet access can use the library’s computers to search for jobs, complete schoolwork and do banking, for example. 

York County Literacy Council was allocated $30,000 that will assist adults striving to be digitally literate. Students will learn the basics of internet safety and how to create, communicate and share digital content. 

“Technology used in the workplace will always evolve, so our workforce development strategies must also evolve to secure Pennsylvania’s competitive edge in the global economy,” L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier said in the release. “These grants empower local organizations to build skillsets within their labor force that employers expect workers to possess. When worker skillsets match employer demands, Pennsylvania’s communities and its overall economy grow stronger.” 

Keystone grants awarded to four local libraries 

Four central Pennsylvania public libraries were among 21 libraries in 17 counties across the commonwealth to be awarded Keystone grants totaling $5.3 million from the state Department of Education. 

“Public libraries are a community staple — helping residents access critical services, resources, and programming, from educational materials to broadband,” Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Noe Ortega said in a release. 

Area libraries receiving Keystone Grants for Public Library Facilities are Annville Free Library, Annville Township, $750,000; Ephrata Public Library, Ephrata borough, $32,470.91; Lancaster Public Library, City of Lancaster, $750,000; York County Libraries: Glatfelter Memorial Library, Spring Grove, $80,000. 

The money will help the facilities improve their operations, install equipment and upgrade security systems. Award recipients were selected through a competitive grant process. 

Grants pay up to 50 percent of eligible costs in planning, acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of public libraries. Examples of fundable projects include Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades; roof improvements; replacement windows; and expansion. 

International consulting firm to lay off 66 at Ephrata location

Professional services firm Williams Sale Partnership Limited (WSP) plans to permanently lay off 66 employees at its Ephrata office.

The Montreal-based company announced this month that it will enact a series of layoffs as part of a workforce reduction effort between August and October.

The layoffs were announced in a notice sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry through the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The act requires employers to provide 60 days advance notice when enacting a mass layoff.

According to the notice, 29 billing coordinators, nine accounts payable coordinators and 18 senior billing coordinators are part of the number of employees with affected positions.

WSP is continually evaluating its business and service levels for operational excellence and client support,” said Corey Dade, vice president of communications at WSP. “As part of these efforts, the company has made the decision to restructure some operations which will be impacting some of our valued employees in the Ephrata PA office.”

WSP is an international engineering consulting firm. It provides technical and strategic advisory services for engineering and infrastructure projects.

None of the employees will be offered bumping rights to replace another employee. The workforce reductions are set for Aug. 20, Oct. 1 and Oct. 20.

WSP is providing ongoing support to impacted employees to ease the transition and is placing qualified individuals in other positions, said Dade.

“(We) are providing separation benefits to employees whom we are unable to place in new roles,” he said. “The majority of our colleagues in the Ephrata office will not be impacted.”


Four Seasons begins warehouse expansion in Lancaster County

Spurred by double-digit growth in recent years, the Four Seasons Family of Companies has started a major expansion project at its 400 Wabash Road campus in Ephrata that will include a second dock, more multi-temperature cold storage rooms and more ripening rooms for bananas and avocados.

The four businesses under the Four Seasons umbrella are wholesaler Four Seasons Produce, third-party logistics and freight provider Sunrise Logistics, importer Earth Source and the Sunrise Transport fleet of more than 120 refrigerated trucks and tractor-trailers.

Construction on the 131,000-square-foot addition began this month and is expected to be completed by next spring.

The expansion will feature a 48,000-square-foot multi-temperature receiving dock with 39 added doors; 72,000 square feet of cold storage with four-high racking and over 6,000 more pallet spaces; 10 temperature zones ideal for fresh produce, flex-temp rooms for seasonal peaks; and a 28-degree “chill” zone for the increasingly popular organic and natural meat and poultry category.

Four Seasons Produce is a distributor of organic, local and conventional fruits and vegetables, as well as organic meats, eggs, dairy and beverages. It supplies independent retailers, natural food stores, food co-ops, e-commerce customers and other produce buyers in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

The expansion will position the wholesaler to meet demand for years to come, the release said.

And for Sunrise Logistics and Earth Source, the enlarged facility will provide more cold storage space, multiple temperature zones, on-site quality control and ripening experts. Sunrise Logistics will also have more access to an inbound and outbound delivery network.

“Food distribution is a tight timeline, 24-hour business,” Four Seasons’ President and CEO Jason Hollinger said in the release. “One of the goals of this expansion project is to be able to ship and receive simultaneously using a second dock. This will allow us to bring a higher portion of work to daytime hours for our associates.”

Four Seasons said the addition will be committed to environmental sustainability as well.

Its existing building has a 3,900-panel solar array, and the roof on the expansion is being prepped for future solar panels.

An U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified electric generator for demand response and total power back up will be included, as well as an energy-efficient refrigeration system, full LED lighting with motion sensors, and a total facility energy monitoring system. The material handling equipment is being updated to energy-efficient lithium-ion.

“Four Seasons’ expansion is a significant investment that strengthens this notable company’s capabilities to serve their customers,” Lisa Riggs, president of the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County, wrote in an email.

“The company has a sizable footprint already in Lancaster County, serving as a major employer and as a leader focused on sustainability. It is great to see them further their commitment to the community through this physical expansion.”

Four Seasons, which is actively hiring, said it’s investing over $3 million in higher wages for its operations associates and professional drivers this year.

“We are so grateful for our frontline associates who put forth so much effort all through 2020’s pandemic challenges and now through 2021’s labor crunch,” added Hollinger, who represents the second generation to lead Four Seasons, which was founded by his father, David, in 1976.

In 2020, he said, Four Seasons spent more than $1 million in “on-site-required appreciation pay” and other benefits to employees, and allocated “significant” profit sharing to workers in every area.

ENB, ACNB declare 2nd-quarter cash dividends

Midstate financial holding companies ENB Financial Corp. and ACNB Corp. declared second-quarter cash dividends this week.

Ephrata-based ENB announced on Wednesday a cash dividend of $0.17 per share, an increase of $0.01, or 6.3% from the dividend paid in the second quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.

Shareholders will receive $0.17 for each share of ENB Financial Corp. common stock as of May 14. Shares are payable on June 15.

ENB Financial is the bank holding company for Ephrata National Bank, which operates 12 locations in Lancaster County, southeastern Lebanon County and southern Berks County.

Gettysburg-based ACNB announced on Thursday that its Board of Directors approved a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.25, payable on June 15.

ACNB also approved a special cash dividend of $0.02 per share on ACNB Corp. common stock.

The Adams County bank has maintained a focus on credit quality, profitability and its relationship with customers and remains cautiously optimistic for the remainder of 2021 into 2022, said James Helt, president and CEO of ACNB Corp.

“The regular cash dividend and the special cash dividend for the second quarter of 2021 are a direct result of these efforts,” Helt said. “Given our progress thus far in 2021, the Board of Directors believed it was an appropriate time to reward our shareholders, while continuing to be thoughtful about the remainder of this year.”

ACNB Corp. is the financial holding company for ACNB Bank in Gettysburg and Russell Insurance Group Inc., in Westminster, Maryland. ACNB operates 20 locations in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties.

WellSpan opens pulmonary and sleep medicine office in Ephrata

WellSpan Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine has set up its new waiting room to allow social distancing, for patient safety. PHOTO PROVIDED

WellSpan Health opened its newest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine office in Ephrata last week– the York-based health system’s second in Lancaster County.

The new office on the second floor of WellSpan’s Reading Road Health Center at 446 N. Reading Road, Ephrata, replaces two smaller ones at 3440B Rothsville Road, Ephrata, and at 227 Granite Run Drive, Lancaster.

WellSpan’s Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine office at 435 S. Kinzer Road in New Holland will remain open.

WellSpan’s Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine offices treat patients with various lung and sleep disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, lung cancer, fibrosis, sleep apnea and insomnia.

The health system’s newest addition to its Reading Road Health Center has 16 exam rooms and employs 30.

“We are excited to serve our patients at our spacious new office,” said Dr. Scott Silverstein, pulmonologist with the practice. “We have a large waiting room, with appropriate social distancing, as well as clean and sanitized spaces throughout the office. We encourage our patients to contact us so we can continue to care for their pulmonary and sleep health.”

Because the practice is located at the WellSpan Reading Road Health Center, patients will have access to lab work and imaging services in the same building.

WellSpan is leasing the two smaller offices that previously held Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine practices