Over the past two decades Delaware's economy has changed considerably as it shifts away from the 20th century cornerstones of "chemicals, cars, chickens and credit cards". Many of these changes are now expected to occur even more quickly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have been compounded by potentially transformational impacts to various sectors, including office and retail, both locally and globally. In recent years Delaware has reacted with a number of focused initiatives, including the formation of a statewide economic development public-private partnership, the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, whose guiding principle is to "make Delaware a global magnet for investment and talent and a source of game changing enterprises and technologies". As we move forward, what does the changing nature of the global economy mean for Delaware and how will these changes impact our local real estate markets in the years to come?
- Moderator: Sara Toner, Chair of Richards, Layton & Finger's Real Estate Group
- Neil Shah, Managing Director, Best Hospitality
- Robert Wittig, Partner, DSM Commercial
- Jeff Zygler, Partner, Dermody Properties
Jeffrey Zygler is Partner, National Development for Dermody Properties. He is responsible for sourcing and executing Dermody Properties’ eCommerce and build-to-suit projects throughout the United States. Since joining Dermody Properties in 2015, he has led the development of three build-to-suit fulfillment centers for Amazon totaling nearly 6 million square feet and the speculative development of a 1-million-square-foot building in Eastern Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Dermody Properties, Mr. Zygler served as the Vice President of Development for KTR Capital Partners. While at KTR, Mr. Zygler led the development of 8 million square feet in industrial projects valued at over $800 million dollars throughout the United States, including 4.9 million square feet of build-to-suit projects for Amazon, and the acquisition of 3 million square feet of industrial real estate. Mr. Zygler was also involved in the underwriting of more than $3 billion of industrial investment opportunities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic markets. Mr. Zygler is a board member of UJA-Federation Young Wall Street Division, has co-chaired several events for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, and is a member of NAIOP Developing Leaders, and NAIOP National Forums – Ecommerce II. He holds a B.S. in finance and logistics, transportation and supply chain management from the University of Maryland.
Sara T. Toner is chair of the Real Estate Group of Richards, Layton & Finger, Delaware’s largest law firm. She focuses her practice on complex transactions involving the finance, acquisition, sale, lease, and development of commercial real estate properties, with a particular emphasis on closing sophisticated commercial real estate loans. Sara represents major real estate developers, financial institutions, significant holders of commercial real estate, and institutional clients, advising them on a wide array of commercial real estate matters. Sara is a contributing author of several published articles and a frequent speaker on Delaware real estate law. She is a fellow of ACREL, ACMA, and the American Bar Foundation, is recognized in The Best Lawyers in America, and is ranked in Band 1 in Chambers USA. Sara earned a B.S., summa cum laude, from Philadelphia University, and a J.D. from Temple University School of Law.
Mr. Shah is a Managing Director of Best Hospitality, and his resume combines a lifetime of hospitality experience with a broad operational and executive background to create a unique and successful management philosophy. Responsible for shifting Best Hospitality from the “mom-and-pop,” hands-on approach that served his parents well, to the dynamic organization it is today, Mr. Shah integrated his corporate and startup experiences into hospitality management. As an example, this resulted in, during 2018, Best Hospitality’s Staybridge Suites in Newark, DE receiving IHG’s Quality Excellence Award, given to only 10 properties within the brand globally. Mr. Shah has constructed hotels in Delaware and Texas, as well as a retail shopping center and various industrial projects, including a $100mn LPG rail facility (the largest on the Eastern Coast of the USA). He has served as the Director of Strategy at a large energy company, guiding complex investment decisions and vetting acquisition targets. As a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, Mr. Shah focuses on the creating processes that allow team members at all levels of the organization to be successful and grow, creating a dynamic workforce to quickly capture opportunities that arise. As a trained chemical engineer, Mr. Shah has a constant eye to efficiency and reliability, analyzing trends to incorporate into the business. Additionally, he drives sustainable practices for the organization, from recycling to switching some of the portfolio to 100% renewable electricity.
Robert's interest in Real Estate brokerage and development grew from his family's 50 years of history in the industry throughout the tri-state area. After attending the University of Delaware, Robert began his career working with his father and brother, focusing on the acquisition and development of commercial properties. Since 1987 Robert and his partners have developed over or acquired over 1.7 million square feet of commercial space along the east coast consisting of major retailers such as Walgreen’s, CVS, Food Lion, Happy Harry’s, Wawa, Lowe’s Home Improvement, McDonald’s, WSFS, Wilmington Trust, Bank of America, Starbucks and other national and regional restaurant chains, fast food stores and retailers. DSM has holdings in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont, North Carolina and Florida.