Two Philadelphia printing firms, family-owned since the 1800s, have combined under one roof, hoping that together they can keep winning business to keep more than 100 printers busy putting out colorful physical documents in an increasingly digital age.

The third generation of Binders and Koontzes to own Graphic Arts Inc. (, a West Philadelphia firm that specializes in drug-company marketing jobs, has joined forces with the Lobel family's Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Co. (, which specializes in insurance, political, and commercial work. The firms will share one roof but will continue to do business under their separate names.

Graphic Arts has closed its leased plant at 41st and Chestnut Streets near the University of Pennsylvania and moved to SED's 120,000-square-foot Port

Richmond complex, Smith-Edwards-Dunlap boss Jonathan Shapiro told me.

Shapiro and Graphic Arts boss Fred Binder say the deal preserves jobs for Teamsters-Graphics Communications union printers and other employees of the firms, who average more than 20 years on the job.

"We have many cases of multigenerational employees," said Shapiro, who started as a shift supervisor at 25, more than 30 years ago. "Dean Miller, the supervisor of our mailing department? His father was our maintenance man." Earl Martin, information-technology manager, started as a teenage messenger.

Can the enlarged company survive as more and more print consumers move to digital formats?

With only a small design staff, the combined firms depend mostly on print-ready jobs brought into the office, not on moving work online to handheld devices.

"People will always need posters, kits, flip charts," Shapiro told me.

Suburban deal

North Jersey-based

Morris Ashbridge Associates L.P.

has bought the 49-acre

Ashbridge Square

retail center at 900 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, from

Pacific Crest Holdings L.L.C.

of Beverly Hills, Calif., for $51.75 million, or $133 a square foot.

The price includes Morris' assumption of a $38 million loan to New York Life Insurance Co.

The capitalization rate on the deal (the ratio of annual rental income to price) is about 7.8 to 1. That's worse than what buyers were willing to pay in the bubble years of the mid-2000s, but "very consistent" with recent deals in the western suburbs and Berks County, a hopeful sign the real estate market is firming, says Mark Taylor of broker Marcus & Millichap's Philadelphia office, who represented the seller. Another M&M broker represented the buyer.

"There were 17 bidders," of which 15 were rich individual investors or groups and just two were institutional investors, the kind who buy properties when prices are going up, Taylor added.

Ashbridge tenants include leading big-box stores - Home Depot, Best Buy, Staples - along with low-end grocer Bottom Dollar (owned by Food Lion), a State Store, a discount Christmas Tree Shop, and other chains.

Come together

CreekSide Co-Op

, of Elkins Park, tells its 1,300 members that

Vantage Point Bank

, of Fort Washington, has approved a $3 million U.S. Department of Agriculture-backed loan to buy the former

Ashbourne Market

and reopen it as a member-owned, member-run grocery.

CreekSide has contracted with Allied Construction Services Inc., of Fort Washington, for the job, and is completing a bridge loan from the Reinvestment Fund in Philadelphia. CreekSide is still trying to borrow $250,000 from members as a condition for the Reinvestment Fund loan.

"The cooperative has been working on this project for three years. We're excited to be part of it," said Russ Carlow, head of lending at Vantage Point, a $75 million neighborhood bank started in 2007.

"Being member-owned, the members have a voice in what the store carries," Carlow told me.

"It's not like Acme or Whole Foods, where everything is picked for you. It makes it a stronger credit; the members have committed financially to this product, they have paid dues, and it gives them a built-in customer base."

Contact columnist Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5194 or