Kendig Square shopping center sells for $24.55M

A York-based real estate partnership has paid $24.55 million for Lancaster County’s Kendig Square.

The nearly 269,000-square-foot West Lampeter Township shopping center was purchased by Triple BAR Kendig Square LLC, according to a deed filed Oct. 7.

Triple BAR Group is a partnership of J.C. BAR Properties, Triple Crown Corp. and Weathervane Capital Partners. In central Pennsylvania, J.C. BAR’s portfolio also includes Waynesboro Shopping Center; Hampden Marketplace, Enola; Blue Ridge Village, Harrisburg; and York Marketplace.

The acquisition was announced by J.C. BAR in a LinkedIn post.

Kendig Square is anchored by Weis Markets and includes nationally recognized tenants, with a single vacancy of approximately 8,800 square feet remaining, the post said.

On Willow Street Pike (Route 272), the retail center “is located within a fast-growing market of residential, retail and warehouse distribution, making it the ideal location for any use,” a Bennett Williams Commercial listing brochure said. In addition to Weis, tenants include Ocean State Job Lot, which recently moved into half of a former Kmart; Rite Aid; Dollar Tree; Pet Supplies Plus; Planet Fitness and others.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Harrisburg’s Olde Liberty Square sells for $16 million 

Olde Liberty Square, located at 4807-4815 Jonestown Road in Lower Paxton Township, Harrisburg. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Olde Liberty Square, a collection of four office properties at 4807-4815 Jonestown Road in Lower Paxton Township, Harrisburg, was purchased by a New York-based investment firm for $16 million. 

Empire Liberty Square closed on the deal with owner Room One Corp. on Dec. 30, 2021. 

Olde Liberty Square was built in 1991 and is made up of 61 fully leased office suites across four office buildings, totaling 102,522 square feet. Tenants of the property include health care professionals, attorneys, engineers, accountants, financial advisers and insurance companies. 

The site includes 310 parking spaces and high visibility along Jonestown Road.  

Empire Liberty Square is interested in expanding its portfolio of multi-tenant office buildings in Central and Southeastern Pennsylvania, and currently owns over 400,000 square feet of office space in the region, said Bo Mangam, associate broker at Landmark Commercial Realty.  

“When investors look at this property, what attracts them is the vacancy rate, which is always very low,” said Mangam. “The type of tenants that stay there are there for a very long time, they like that customers can find them easily from I-81, I-83 and Route 322.” 

Mangam represented the buyers and facilitated the transaction with Matt Wolf and Rob Holland of Kislak Realty, who exclusively listed the property for the sellers.

“The location and historic occupancy made this an attractive opportunity for investors,” said Wolf. “Central Pennsylvania continues to be a very popular destination for New York and New Jersey capital.”

Lancaster Public Library announces plans to move, sell building to St. James Episcopal Church

Lancaster Public Library’s board of trustees has agreed to sell the library building at 125 N. Duke St. PHOTO/IOANNIS PASHAKIS

As Lancaster Public Library prepares to relocate, its board of trustees announced Wednesday an agreement to sell the library building at 125 N. Duke St.

The purchasers are a group of local investors who are buying the building for its eventual use by historic St. James Episcopal Church, a longtime neighbor of the library.

The price of the transaction will be disclosed once the sale closes, which should be within the next two years. Lancaster-based PPM Real Estate has been retained to manage the sale.

Lancaster Square on North Queen Street is planned to be the future site for the Lancaster Public Library. PHOTO/IOANNIS PASHAKIS

Founded in 1759, Lancaster Public Library is one of the oldest public libraries in the country. Today, it serves approximately 211,000 Lancaster County residents in 14 municipalities.

“The most fiscally responsible decision the board can make in preparation for the library’s move to Barney Ewell Plaza is to first secure the sale of the Duke Street building,” Board of Trustees President Aaron Sherman said in a release.

A capital campaign is also being done to support the move.

The library will occupy the first two floors of a new nine-story building facing the former Lancaster Square, which “will improve library services to the Lancaster community with expanded and improved interior and exterior spaces, ADA compliance, and closer proximity to the heart of downtown Lancaster,” the release said.

After the shell of the space is finished, the library is responsible for finishing, equipping and furnishing the interior.

Until that’s done, the library will remain at its current site and keep ownership of the building. Once the move is complete and the sale is finalized, the property will likely be converted to offices until St. James, a parish that dates to 1744, has finalized its plans for the building.

“Only once in a century does an opportunity like this appear,” said Rev. David Peck, rector of St. James, in the release. “As a parish that continues to grow, the lay leadership of St. James is grateful for the chance to explore every option for this property, with insight from our many ministry partners, including our bishop and diocese, as well as members of the congregation and wider community.”

Friends without benefits: Experts warn of dangers from alternative payment systems

Photo: File illustration

On a regular basis, the e-commerce director at a Pennsylvania manufacturer used PayPal, as well as other digital and person-to person payment systems to buy equipment and services on behalf of the company.

The ability to click a few buttons – instead of cutting physical checks or going through the hassle of a wire transfer – offered speed and convenience.

There was only one problem: many of the transactions were bogus, and over a two-year period the director funneled about $170,000 into his own bank accounts, according to Jeremy L. Witmer, a senior consultant in the business consulting services group at the professional services firm RKL LLP, which has offices across Central Pennsylvania.

There was “almost no oversight of the e-comm director,” according to Witmer. “His acts weren’t discovered until the company did a budget-to-actual review and found that more than $60,000 was paid to a web developer but never budgeted. The CFO asked for documentation, and realized the paperwork was faked. At that point we were called in.”

Tips from an insider

Alternative payment methods like Square, PayPal, Stripe and Payoneer represent a convenient and flexible way for businesses to accept payments from customers, according to Jeremy L. Witmer, a senior consultant in the business consulting services group at the professional services firm RKL LLP.

“On the flip side, however, allowing your employees to pay vendors through these methods can be a risky proposition,” he noted. “Because these payment methods are still relatively new, there is often confusion around the unique risks associated with them. However, once you understand these risks and common fraud schemes, you can institute a few best practices to prevent your company from falling victim to alternate payment fraud.”

Fraudsters often take advantage of the anonymity these kinds of services provide, he cautioned.

“While most companies have strong policies for cutting checks or making ACH payments, few have updated these policies to expand controls related to alternative payment methods,” he said. “Fraudsters know this and are happy to exploit this weakness.”

One weakness is the fact that credit card or ACH electronic transactions identify the payee on the credit card or bank statement.

“But alternative payment methods usually mask these payment details,” said Witmer. “Instead, the processor name, such as ‘Square’ or ‘PayPal’ will first appear on your bank statement. In some cases, however, the payee name will only appear on the statement if the vendor has set up their account to do so. In alternate payment schemes, the fraudster vendor will omit their name or use a misleading company name to hide the true payee identity.”

One defense is to institute a policy of tracking down supporting documentation relating to any payment that has been processed through an alternative payment method. “The goal is to verify that the payment was properly approved and is being made to a legitimate vendor,” Witmer added. “Supporting documentation can include purchase orders or original invoices.”

Another best practice is to limit the number of employees with direct access to company bank accounts and credit card numbers.

“Alternative payment method fraud relies upon the fraudster having access to the company accounts; otherwise, he’ll need to devise a different scheme,” noted Witmer. “Restricting employee use of company accounts is also important in investigating any suspicious activity. With limited users, it is much easier to quickly uncover the fraudster and stop them in their tracks.”

The firm worked with the State Police on the case, and the (soon-former) e-commerce director pleaded guilty, served time and had to make restitution.

“One of the reasons he was able to get away with this for so long was that the company didn’t have a procedure to verify and approve new vendors,” added Witmer.

The problem of fraud is a big one, according to a February posting from the information technology company IBM. “Online payment fraud losses from e-commerce, airline ticketing, and money transfer and banking services are expected to reach $48 billion by 2023, more than double the $22 billion in losses estimated for 2018,” noted the report, citing data from Juniper Research. “With the global rise in instant payment schemes, specifically new P2P payments methods, Juniper Research forecasts fraud losses for money transfers increasing by over 20 percent per annum to $10 billion in 2023.”

“We want to live in frictionless, one-click world, but that can bring its own problems,” said Jonathan T. Marks, a partner at the advisory, tax and assurance firm Baker Tilly and member of the forensic team. “When your bank account is linked to an outside payment provider, you need to be aware of what’s going on, and constantly monitor your transactions. Many people don’t bother to set up account alerts [which signal them about a variety of issues, including a transfer of funds above a certain dollar amount]. Even when merchants and individuals utilize two-factor authentication and other safeguards, that only helps to guard against — but won’t necessarily completely prevent — fraud.”

Financial institutions are also doing their part, he added. “If I use my credit card to buy gas in my hometown, and 60 seconds later my ‘card’ is charged for thousands of dollars of purchases in, say, Chicago, my bank may freeze the account. So that’s part of the solution, but there’s no single one-size-fits-all answer. You have to tailor a solution to fit each business and every transaction, because fraudsters are persistent and creative.”

No safety net

Nothing is 100 percent safe, according to Scott Groner, business technologist at the CPA and business consulting firm Concannon Miller in Bethlehem, but businesses and consumers alike can take some precautions, even if they involve tradeoffs.

“Merchants should try to know their customers,” he said. “When possible, request some form of valid identification, even though this may defeat the ease of digital transactions.”

He also has some advice for consumers when it comes to digital wallets, which can let them make in-store purchases by swiping their smartphones or other devices, instead of having to dig out a physical credit card.

“The beauty of using a digital wallet is that it’s not vulnerable to ‘skimmers’ [fraud devices attached to ATMs and other inputs that can swipe credit and debit card information], the way a physical card may be,” he said.

“But beware of using your mobile device on public wi-fi connections, since hackers may then be able to access your digital data,” he added. “Also, set your smartphone to lock after a certain period of time, so if you lose it, a hacker will have a tougher time getting into it. Finally, merchants and consumers alike should check their credit card and other account statements on a frequent basis to try to spot suspicious activity.”

Like freedom, the price of online financial security is eternal vigilance.