At the corner of Haddon and Powell Avenues in Collingswood, you can pop into Collings North, the newly opened final phase of a development in the town's center.
And soon, you'll also be able to pop in to visit the developer himself. Brad Ingerman, whose company's headquarters are moving from Cherry Hill, will occupy the ground floor, potentially for a long time.
"We're not flippers, we build and hold," Ingerman says. "Fifteen years is our minimum holding period. We still own two-thirds of our projects."
Founded in 1988, Ingerman's company has developed 90 projects in the mid-Atlantic region consisting of more than 7,000 residential units, for development costs he estimates at more than $1 billion.
The Collings at the Lumberyard in Collingswood is one of the company's few market-rate developments; the others are mostly affordable housing. In 2013, Ingerman leased the first phase, Collings South. The company is managing the development, as well.
Collings North includes 1,500 square feet of retail space. Citing venting issues, Ingerman said, "We'd prefer not to have a restaurant."
Its 70 rental apartments are one- and two-bedroom units of 825 to 1,200 square feet. Rents range from $1,450 to $2,250 a month.
The $21 million Lumberyard project had been left for dead by a previous developer. The borough's involvement in that project prompted a downgrade of Collingswood's credit rating to junk-bond status, and the financing issues also drew sharp opposition from residents.
The borough controlled and ultimately sold some condominiums there.
Collingswood's credit rating has since been upgraded. In June, Mayor James Maley celebrated the topping-off ceremony with Ingerman.
"We recognize this milestone in the history of the Lumberyard site," Maley said in a statement.
Ingerman, 59, lives in Lower Merion. He began his professional career in 1979 at Price Waterhouse, after graduating from Villanova University and Widener Law.
As a developer, he got his start in the 1900-2100 blocks of Christian Street in South Philadelphia. Using subsidies from Philadelphia and state tax credits, he built 130 affordable-housing units between 1989 and 1991.
About 15 years later, Ingerman rehabbed those same properties when the rent limits expired and sold them at market rates.
His company focuses on affordable housing because "it's insulated from real estate cycles," he said. "That's our bread and butter."
Of 90 projects, he said 85 of them have been affordable housing.
During the financial crisis, "we were building three to six projects a year," he noted.
Congress set aside a fraction of crisis-era bailout money for affordable housing, and Ingerman was among the developers who won the contracts to build Justin Commons in Williamstown and Pentecostal senior rental housing in Chester.
The Christian Street model could be repeated at other Ingerman projects, he said.
He originally developed the Chatham Apartments at 242-252 S. 49th Street - 44 units on the west side of 49th Street between Locust and Spruce Streets - as affordable housing.
"In 10 or 15 years, that might be another conversion opportunity" to sell the units at market rate, he said.
Ingerman does his own construction and acts as general contractor, which helps profit margins.
"Our in-house construction expertise gives us a lot of freedom, and we are paid fees as developer and contractor."
Ingerman employees act as deal-finders and share partly in profits from those deals, he says.
"They're more vested in the process," he added.
He sees the real estate market "going into a peak one to three years from now."
"We aim for singles and doubles. Triples and homers can bring developers down. We like smaller, reliable deals," Ingerman said.
Currently, the company has projects on the boards as far south as Cecilton, Md.
It is developing Burlington Mill in Burlington County, 65 units of family housing surrounding a historic building.