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Old Posted May 30, 2004, 3:44 PM
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EastSideHBG EastSideHBG is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Philadelphia Metro (Norristown, PA)
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Here's a related article, so I figured I would post it. Chris and harrisburger, did you guys see the first building they are talking about in this article yet? I am so used to having my attention drawn to the two new ones off of I-81 at the split in LP Township. When I drove by East Park Dr. (near the Sheraton) the other day I was totally blown away. "Holy crap, when did they build that?!?" I find myself saying that a lot these days, and I'm loving it.


Family positions businesses for growth

Sunday, May 30, 2004
BY DAVID DeKOK
Of The Patriot-News

You can't say the Szeles family isn't confident about the direction of the U.S. economy.

By the Szeles family we mean Alex R. Szeles, 62, who is the paterfamilias, son of a steelworker and founder of Szeles Real Estate Development Co. and Szeles Building and Leasing Co., both in Lower Paxton Twp.

His son, Rick Szeles, has been managing partner and director of investments for the past 10 years. Brian Szeles, another son, heads Alex R. Szeles Inc., a restoration company. Todd E. Gelbaugh, son-in-law of Alex, heads Mobile X-Ray Imaging Inc., which provides X-rays on wheels at nursing homes in the region.

All the companies this summer will move into a new 25,000-square-foot headquarters building at 945 East Park Drive, across from the Four Points By Sheraton.

-What's more, the real estate companies plan to acquire between 300,000 and 500,000 square feet of office space for the investment portfolio.

"Yes. We're optimistic," Alex Szeles said. "We have seen more activity in the last six to eight months than in the past couple of years. A lot of it has to do with the Bush tax incentives."

Those tax incentives, especially one that accelerated depreciation of capital equipment, were weighted toward corporations and the wealthy in the theory that jobs would then "trickle down" to the general public. Szeles is saying it seems to be working.

"We spent a little over $500,000 we would not have normally spent," he said, referring to purchases of computers and X-ray equipment. "Anyone with a small business would want to take advantage of that. Across the country, it has to be spurring activity."

Among their real estate purchases lately has been the 60,000-square-foot EDS building at 275 Grandview Road in East Pennsboro Twp. Renovations are being made, and a tenant, Liberty Mutual, already has signed up for 20,000 square feet of the space.

"Some of our recent purchases were not on the market," Szeles said. "We went out and knocked on doors."

The only major sale of commercial property the firm has ever made occurred in the late 1990s, when real estate investment trusts, or REITs, were on a buying binge. Szeles sold 400,000 square feet of space because the price offered was irresistible. But it wasn't the majority of their holdings, and the firm is now back to buying and building.

"So many companies were downsizing for 24 or 36 months," he said. "We see bright spots in the economy and have invested a substantial amount of money."

In addition to the EDS building, Szeles has acquired the West Shore Office Center and the Slate Hill Business Center. Jim Koury of Rothman, Schubert and Reed in Camp Hill handled the transactions.

The medical imaging subsidiary seems an odd pairing with a commercial real estate company. Szeles said Gelbaugh, his son-in-law, came out of the Army as an X-ray technician and wanted to explore the possibilities of a company that would bring mobile imaging equipment to nursing homes rather than have the residents travel to fixed facilities.

"We started eight years ago and now have 42 full-time employees," Szeles said. "We expect to soon be one of the biggest in the state."

Szeles is a native of Steelton -- his father worked at Bethlehem Steel and eventually ran the Friendly Taverns in Steelton and Rutherford. After graduating from Bishop McDevitt High School, Szeles spent several years working and traveling for State Loan Corp. Eventually, he brought his family back to the midstate.

His first commercial real estate project was the 120-unit Locust Ridge and Londonderry Apartments in Lower Paxton Twp.

Szeles married his high school sweetheart and has four children and 18 grandchildren. All of them live in the area. He is "semiretired," but stays active both in the business and in fitness activities at the Harrisburg YMCA.
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