Our First Century in Business
The time and place was the burgeoning City of Philadelphia in 1909. Jacob Kahn couldn’t help but notice the profusion of automobiles radically altering the lifestyles of those around him. He also possessed a great enthusiasm for building and developing land into something profitable and useful for the demands of the marketplace. Meeting those demands, Jacob spearheaded the development of numerous automobile dealerships along Chestnut Street and Broad Street, Philadelphia’s original car shoppers’ corridors. His development portfolio grew to include low-rise urban office buildings, highlighted by the Bell Telephone Building constructed at the corner of 19th and Arch Streets.
Following his service in the Navy in World War I, Jacob’s only son, Charles entered the family real estate business. Expanding on the success of his father Jacob, and seeking to meet the needs of the thrilling world of the automobile industry, Charles worked through the 1920s and 1930s establishing relationships with international oil companies including Texaco, Gulf, Sinclair and later, Shell Oil. All of these companies shared one priority; to penetrate the sprawling Metropolitan Philadelphia marketplace, and establish a circuit of selectively positioned high profile corner gas stations. Charles was blessed with the resources and knowledge to serve these requirements, and Charles’ integral relationships with oil company executives soon blossomed and led to his developing over 200 gas station sites within a 75-mile radius of downtown Philadelphia. The Company’s development base grew as retail companies such as A & P Grocery Stores, Sears, and Woolworth’s entrusted The Kahns with the construction, management, and ownership of several of their retail stores throughout the Delaware Valley. Charles also was sparked by the excitement of the motion picture industry, and subsequently built and leased three Philadelphia area theatres for the Stanley Warner chain, while acquiring and remodeling two other theatre houses in the suburbs.
After serving in the Marine Corps during World War II, Charles’ oldest son, Charles Jr. entered the third generation family business. Charles Jr. continued to enhance the valued development and management relationships with the company’s client base of oil companies while noticing another pastime beginning to radically change the weekend culture of America: The Drive-In Movie Theatre. Charles Jr. scoured the suburban countryside, identifying and developing vacant fields into meccas of silver screen entertainment, bustling with weekend traffic anxiously awaiting the debut of Hollywood’s latest extravaganza.
Charles Jr. made the focused decision to bring the family business into the brokerage arena, creating the opportunity to bring the two God-given commodities of land and people together for each one’s highest and best use. His overriding desire to give back to the community led him to serve numerous philanthropic organizations in meeting their acquisition, expansion and disposition activities. His wife Barbara secured her own Brokerage license and entered the business in the mid-1970s, lending her busy husband assistance where needed.
In 1982-1983, Charles and Barbara’s sons, Jim and Jeff joined Kahn & Co., thereby establishing the firm as one of Philadelphia’s few fourth generation family businesses. The two brothers sought to grow the brokerage business by expanding the client base of retail, commercial, office, industrial and institutional business throughout Philadelphia, the surrounding suburban counties and Southern New Jersey. Charles’ involvement and expertise with gasoline service stations, movie theatres, low-rise office buildings, and institutional organizations, combined with his willingness to mentor his sons, allowed the sons to ‘hit the ground running’ with a wide variety of clients and their increasing real estate needs. Simultaneously, the two brothers grew the management, investment, and development portfolio to include several shopping centers, numerous free-standing single-tenant retail sites, and a high-rise office building. The increase in property management led the brothers to relocate the Management staff to a highway accessible hub location in Fort Washington. Soon after, Jim and Jeff took on the assignment to lease and sell over 130 surplus bank branches following the Core States/First Union merger. Jeff left Kahn & Co. in 1999 to pursue another venture, while Jim focused the company on the brokerage, management, redevelopment, and acquisition of primarily retail commercial real estate.
The past decade has brought the company the opportunity to orchestrate the redevelopment of several supermarket-anchored shopping centers and the conversion of numerous free-standing former gas station sites to nationally branded food retailers including Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, 7-Eleven, Swiss Farm Convenience Stores, Bruster’s Ice Cream, Rita’s Water Ice and Subway Sandwiches.
Upon the completion of a full century in Commercial Real Estate, Kahn & Company is honored to exclusively represent The Ukrainian Archeparchy of Metropolitan Philadelphia, Impact Thrift Stores, Lakeside Educational Network, Sonic Drive-In Restaurants, The American Heart Association of Metropolitan Philadelphia, several Meineke Car Care Centers and numerous individual property owners throughout the Greater Philadelphia marketplace.