Case Studies

Urban Edge Properties enhances recoveries with Open Box and MRI Software

Urban Edge Properties is a NYSE-listed real estate investment trust focused on managing, acquiring, developing, and redeveloping retail real estate in urban communities, primarily in the Washington, D.C. to Boston corridor. Urban Edge owns 76 properties totalling 17.2 million square feet of gross leasable area.

Business Challenge

For retail property owners and managers, effectively recovering expenses from tenants is a core business component. The process is typically time-consuming and requires manual effort to generate accurate data for billing and accruals. Urban Edge uses the recoveries feature within MRI Commercial Management but required enhancements around workflows and formulas to meet its unique business requirements.

Open Box is an exceptional partner for Urban Edge. Their meticulous approach to comprehending challenges and their expertise in crafting solutions through astute critical thinking is truly remarkable.

Cecilia Li, Chief Information Officer, Urban Edge Properties


Urban Edge engaged with Open Box to enhance its recovery processes within MRI’s open and connected solution. Cecilia Li, Chief Information Officer at Urban Edge Properties, has worked with Open Box as a strategic partner of MRI for over five years. As the company’s real estate financial enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, MRI Commercial Management is an integral part of the company’s day-to-day business. The goal of the project was to proactively tailor a wide variety of recovery calculations, processes, and functionality to maximize the company’s investment and ensure the best experience for business users.

Business impact

In collaboration with Urban Edge business stakeholders, Open Box successfully delivered around 30 projects over a 12-month time period. The Open Box process included requirements gathering, producing detailed documentation on all customizations, and management of Development, Quality Assurance, User Acceptance Testing (UAT), Training and Project Management.

The project made key enhancements to the recoveries process regarding real estate Tax, Common Area Maintenance (CAM), and Capital Expenditures (CAPEX), including:

Creating tax parcel expense journal entries

To improve the accuracy of tax-related journal expenses and prevent overstating tax expenses, Urban Edge introduced a workflow to capture tax parcels. The workflow ensured that different users and user roles were responsible for capturing and approving the journal entries before posting them to the general ledger. In addition, a Spreadsheet Server Query was created to report on all historical tax expenses for future budgeting and reporting purposes.

Contribution calculation enhancements

Urban Edge requested to further automate the process for calculating contribution floors. The company needed to calculate both leased and leasable contributions to compare and determine the correct values. Open Box added enhancements to automatically generate contributions within the MRI system, eliminating manual calculations. Additionally, a workflow was introduced to initiate the process without user intervention and notify the user when the process was complete – saving up to three hours of time per day.

Recovery Formula Calculations

By simplifying the recovery formulas used in the MRI Billing Worksheets and tailoring them for multiple scenarios, Urban Edge business users saved two to four days of work each month. The team can more easily calculate recoveries for leases with different admin fees and cap types across tenants for CAM, Tax and Capex recoveries.

Tenant Invoice Customizations

All invoices were modified to align with the recovery formula calculations detailed above to ensure that the calculations generated in the MRI Billing Worksheets were accurately displayed for each tenant. The enhancement ensured that the invoices displayed sufficient detail and summaries of the expenses and how the estimated charges were calculated.

User Experience Updates

Reviewing recovery calculations is confusing if you are not familiar with the details of the lease. To assist all users reviewing anything recovery-related, Open Box added insights onto web pages and reports, providing more detail and explaining the results of the recovery calculations.

Deferring and Recognizing Revenue

Urban Edge requested enhancements to the process that allows them to generate accruals and deferrals for tenants that pay in advance. Open Box ensured that the values generated were calculated from the correct and accurate sources and were aligned to their specific accounting rules.

By automating its recovery processes and increasing data integrity, Urban Edge successfully reduced the need for manual intervention. The enhanced workflows give the team more time for analysis, verification, and reporting during critical processing periods. The majority of property and lease recovery scenarios are accommodated within the system, increasing visibility and transparency in the process.

Open Box has established itself as a dependable and trusted resource to our organization by taking the time to understand our business, processes, and operational challenges and subsequently turning them into technology-based solutions which have provided meaningful time savings and business insights, allowing for effective management and oversight of the organization and our processes.

Robert Vergara, SVP, Property Accounting, Urban Edge Properties

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