Palmyra Site Will Be New Home To THE FORMER  




TAG ID:  prnphotos051903
Doc ID:  20060202
Doc Date:  Feb/2/2006 (posted Feb/2/2006 1:56 PM)
Format:  9.0" x 5.9" @ 300 DPI (2700 x 1771 Color JPEG)
Categories:  A F LEI
Doc Size:  1130K
Provider:  "PR Newswire Photo Service"
Source:  VFCVB
Special:  SEE STORY 20060202/PHTH040, PH Media contact: Linda Riley, Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau, +1-610-834-7990,
Caption Writer:  JU

The Fort Washington Expo Center, which has an annual economic impact of more than $157 million on the local economy, is losing its location. (PRNewsFoto/Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau)
Fort Washington, PA – The building housing the Fort Washington Expo Center is being sold by its owners, a northern New Jersey real estate company doing business locally as 1100 Virginia Drive Associates, to Malvern-based Liberty Property Trust.

The site is slated for conversion into office space and neither the details of the sale nor the identity of the tenant have been made public.

The 290,000-square foot Expo Center has operated, since January 1993, in space once used as a manufacturing plant byHoneywell. Since opening, the Center has hosted some of the region’s biggest consumer and trade shows, and was the largest such suburban venue in the Northeast Corridor. It delivered an annual economic impact greater than $157 million to Montgomery County and its hospitality industry and, in 2004, received the Montco Chamber of Commerce’s annual Economic Development Award. Its most lucrative customer, the twice-yearly Philadelphia Gift Show attracted more than 1,300 exhibitors and consumed more than 2,000 hotel room nights for exhibitors and buyers every January and July, two traditionally weak months for hotels and restaurants. Each show pumped more than $20 million into Montgomery County’s and the region’s economy.

Current Expo Center general manager Ken Safarowic, with help from the Montgomery County Industrial Development Corporation and the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau (which represents all of Montgomery County), is scrambling to find another venue for more than 100 events the building hosts each year. The Dresher resident is assembling a management company to establish a new exposition center business and has promises from an overwhelming majority of its clients to remain with him and in the county.

According to Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau President Paul Decker, loss of the Expo Center’s business would be “devastating to the Montgomery County and its 19,300 hospitality employees, and the more than 500 hospitality companies my organization represents. We’ll work 24/7, and with whomever we need to, all the way up to Governor Rendell, to keep that business here…and I think we can.”

“I’ve a tremendously capable staff I want to keep at work, and the business has an extremely loyal customer base whose transition into a new space we hope to make as seamless as possible,” Safarowic said. “I want to keep the business in Montgomery County,” he added. “It’s where I live, my employees live and where my customers are comfortable and enjoy business success. We can make this a win-win venture for all.”

The Fort Washington Expo Center’s opening was a signal event in the trend toward conversion of long-dormant manufacturing space into vibrant, revenue-producing service businesses. As Fort Washington Office and Industrial park occupancy swelled and then withered through the Internet boom and bust, the Expo Center clipped right along. “The convention and trade show business fares better than most industries during economic downturns,” added Decker. “We’ve got to and will protect the hard-working engine of economic development the Expo Center’s business represents.”