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Architecture & Design, Commercial Real Estate, Development, Property Management

History of the Empire State Building: A Financial Flop for Nearly 20 years

By QuickLiquidity | Date: June 13, 2017 | Category: History

In the late-1920s, New York’s economy was booming and a competition to build the world’s tallest building was heating up. One man who was at the center of it all was Walter Chrysler of the Chrysler Corporation, who wanted to build the world’s tallest building as a monument to himself and American capitalism. Chrysler began construction of his monument, the Chrysler Building in 1928 at 405 Lexington Avenue. Despite the buildings name, the Chrysler Corporation did not pay for the construction of the building and never owned it. Instead Chrysler paid for it himself, with the hope of his children one day inheriting the world’s tallest building.

The architects of a competing building, 40 Wall Street, had devised a plan to prevent the Chrysler Building from ever becoming the world’s tallest building. Seeking the title for themselves, they planned 40 Wall Street to be 925 feet tall: 85 feet taller than the Chrysler Building had originally planned to be. When Chrysler found out about 40 Wall Street’s plans he decided to add a surprise 186-foot spire to his building. 40 Wall Street finished construction first in April of 1930, and held a celebration for being the tallest building in the world, without knowing that they were about to be surpassed. Less then two months later, the construction workers at the Chrysler Building hoisted 4 parts of the secret spire to the top and riveted them together in 90 minutes. At 1,046 feet high, the Chrysler Building became the world’s tallest building¹.

John J. Raskob of General Motors, a rival of Chryslers, also aspired to build the world’s tallest building. Raskob purchased 350 Fifth Avenue and began construction of the Empire State Building in March of 1930, only a few months before the Chrysler Building was completed. Raskob hired architect William F. Lamb, who finished the original drawings for the Empire State Building in only two weeks. In one of their first meetings Raskob had taken a jumbo pencil, stood it on its end and asked Lamb, “Bill, how high can you make it so that it won’t fall down?” Using over 3,400 laborers a day, the building went up in just over a year, well ahead of schedule and under budget at $40 million, which would be nearly $600 million today. During certain periods of construction, the frame grew a remarkable four-and-a-half stories a week. Not to be bested by the Chrysler Building, Raskob put the final cherry at the top of his building – a spire, making the Empire State Building a soaring 102 stories and 1,250 feet high. The Empire State Building was completed in May of 1931 and became the world’s tallest building, a title it would hold for nearly 40 years until the World Trade Center was completed in 1970. While successful in beating the Chrysler Building in height, the Empire State Building was far from being the success Raskob had hoped.

 

Full Article: http://www.quickliquidity.com/blog/history-of-the-empire-state-building-a-financial-flop-for-nearly-20-years.html

Architecture & Design, Commercial Real Estate, Development, Real Estate Trends

Minnesota: Commercial Development Hub

A recent post by the New York Times blog, shows Minneapolis is among the leaders in urban development. One may ask, why and how does Minneapolis keep attracting people to the city? Simple, the city’s diverse population allows for vibrant restaurants and events, and municipal transportation creates accessibility to and from these destinations. Looking deeper, destinations and even housing were only possible through recent Minneapolis commercial development. You can see from almost any point in the city a construction crane or sign saying, “Opening Soon.”

Setting aside apartment and condo developments, the last 15 years has seen revitalization of major Minneapolis buildings. The old Sears building on Lake Street is now the Midtown Global Market which hosts over 1.5 million visitors a year, and the Foshay Tower is now the W-Hotel. Recently, the Minneapolis Armory, also on the national landmark registrar, looks to be renovated into a venue hosting large crowds as an event center. The Armory was recently sold for $6 million dollars to Nedal Yusuf Abul-Hajj who has submitted plans to convert the 80 year old building.

Architecture & Design, Commercial Lending, Commercial Real Estate, Development, Housing Trends

Finance & Commerce: Will Minnesota law change revive condo development?

Original Article

Date: June 7th, 2017

By: Brian Johnson

 

A change in Minnesota law that makes it more difficult for homeowner associations to sue over construction defect claims may or may not revive condominium and townhome construction. But builders, developers and real estate agents who pushed for the change say it’s a good start.

House File 1538, signed by Gov. Mark Dayton last week, requires homeowner associations to implement a preventive maintenance plan, go through mediation, and get the majority of association members on board before they can proceed with a construction defect lawsuit.

“None of us have a crystal ball as to whether any of this will change the market,” said Ryan Hamilton, associate legal counsel for the Minnesota Association of Realtors, which supported the bill. “It is an effort to improve the risk environment. We hope it does that.”

Builders and developers have been clinging to that hope for a while. In recent years, they have been hesitant to move forward with condo and townhome developments for fear of litigation, despite growing demand for such homes. Another barrier: Some still feel the sting of the condo bust in the previous decade, and the lenders do, too.

As Finance & Commerce has reported, state law allows a condo owner or association to sue project teams for “major construction defects” for up to 10 years after the unit or building was completed. The law was amended in 2010 to add commercial contractors to the list of liable partners. That 10-year statute still applies, said Minneapolis attorney Peter Coyle, who worked with the Housing Options Coalition.

Homebuilding has been on the upswing overall. More than 7,600 new multifamily units were added in the seven-county metro area in 2015, up from 2,329 in 2007, according to the Housing Options Coalition, which pushed for the new law. Coalition members include the Minneapolis Downtown Council, the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota, the Builders Association of the Twin Cities and the Minnesota Association of Realtors.

But because of the liability issue, condos and townhomes represent a much smaller share of new housing units. Two years ago, 3 percent of new multifamily units were condos and townhomes, down from 23 percent in 2007, the coalition said.

Speaking to the demand side, Herb Tousley of the University of St. Thomas points specifically to downtown Minneapolis and the city’s North Loop.

Demand is solid for condos there, but “hardly any” units are for sale, said Tousley, director of real estate programs at St. Thomas. Still, he noted new ones are coming online, including developer Jim Stanton’s 374-unit Legacy Condos project at 121 12th Ave. S. in the Mill District of Minneapolis.

“I think you will see people moving in to fill that supply,” he predicted.

Abbey Bryduck, legislative director for AGC-Minnesota, hopes the change will encourage more development. In particular, the preventive maintenance requirement “goes a long way in making sure these buildings are maintained properly,” she said.

The bill, which was approved by a wide margin in the Legislature, had a Republican author in the House and a DFL author in the Senate.

Despite the bipartisan support, some language in the bill, including the requirement to get the majority of condo owners on board with a lawsuit, gives pause to David Hellmuth, an Edina attorney who represents homeowner associations.

Hellmuth said the requirement puts an “unnecessary restriction” on the association when legitimate claims need to be addressed.

A typical defense against construction defect claims is that the association didn’t do enough preventive maintenance. In other words defendants claim the association “caused their own problems,” he said.

“Whether or not that is true is debatable,” Hellmuth said.

Even so, housing industry advocates like David Siegel of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities expect to see more condo and townhome projects sprout up in the metro area and across the state with the changes in effect.

How far has townhome ownership declined?

A number of years ago, BATC held an event that showcased townhomes, condominiums and other for-sale multifamily properties. “We could not do any such thing today,” Siegel said, because the options are too limited.

“I think this legislation will lead to more condo development, and will similarly result in more townhome construction,” Siegel added.

The Builders Association of Minnesota also supported the legislation, said Remi Stone, BAM”s executive vice president.

Stone said it “improves the landscape” for builders and developers looking to produce condos and townhomes, which appeal to younger buyers just entering the market as well as empty-nesters. That goes for markets such as Rochester, St. Cloud and Duluth, as well as the Twin Cities, she said.

Stone hopes the statute changes will spur more development. “This is one feature,” she said. “We still have issues of financing, we still have regulatory costs. But there is demand. And where there’s demand, the market will go.”

Commercial Real Estate, Industry News, Retail Real Estate

Is the U.S. Over-Retailed?

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When and where will we see the impact from the store closures?

Reposted from nreionline – Barbara Byrne Denham, Victor Calanog | May 15, 2017

When looking at the numbers, the story is not as bad as many have reported. The retail vacancy rate for neighborhood and community shopping centers was flat in the first quarter at 9.9 percent, the same as in the first quarter of 2016. Moreover, rent growth was positive, at 0.3 percent for the quarter. The mall vacancy rate only climbed to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent at the end of 2016 and rent growth was 0.4 percent during the quarter.

So when and where will we see the impact from the store closures?

First, many of the store announcements have yet to translate into actual closings. Thus, we should see more vacancies in the next three or four quarters. Second, a number of other retailers are expanding into retail space, we are seeing quite a bit of this in the properties we survey. Third, many of the stores closing are in less densely populated or more rural areas beyond the 80 primary metros that we track. Indeed, our tertiary market statistics show an aggregate retail vacancy rate increase to 13.5 percent from 13.2 percent at the end of 2016 and no rent growth.

We are seeing consistent results in the employment numbers. That is, only 14 of 82 primary metros tracked by Reis show a year-over-year loss in retail jobs, but 35 tertiary markets show an employment loss as of the first quarter. It should be noted that nearly all of the retail losses at the national level are in “general merchandise” stores that include department stores as well as supercenters. It should also be noted that the U.S. added retail jobs in April, yet the media stayed mum.

 Still, anyone looking at this industry will say the same thing: we are over-retailed. Retail development exploded in the late 1980s through the 1990s. It has subsided in this last cycle as many developers and lenders got burned in the recession. But there are likely still more stores than we need. And with the overwhelming growth in e-commerce we probably need fewer than we currently have in a number of markets. But where to start?

A good way of measuring what markets may be over-retailed is to compare retail employment to population. The table below shows the markets with the highest and lowest ratios of retail employees per 1,000 people and the respective growth in retail rent over the last four years.

As the tables above show, there is a pretty wide gap between the metros that have a high retail employment per population ratio and those that have a low ratio (39 to 66). What’s more significant is the differences in the range of rent growth rates between the top and bottom tables. That is, those with a high ratio had persistently slower rent growth than those with a low ratio. In fact, for the 80 metros tracked by Reis, the correlation coefficient for the four-year retail rent growth and retail employment per 1,000 residents is -22.3 percent. In other words, markets that look to be over-retailed (i.e. with a high retail-employee-to-population ratio) have generally seen lower retail rent growth than those that seem to be relatively under-retailed.

While this correlation coefficient is negative as one would expect, it is still pretty low. This suggests that far more variables are impacting retail rent growth. In fact, the correlation coefficient between population growth and retail rent growth was significantly higher: 42 percent. Thus, population growth drives retail rent growth more than the saturation of the retail industry.

 While the numbers show that the retail industry could in fact be over-saturated, the impact of this saturation on the real estate industry may not be as troublesome as many would presume. Again, other businesses are expanding in formerly empty stores, especially non-traditional tenants such as yoga studios and urgent care medical centers. In sum, while the media may overreact to the next jobs report as doom and gloom for the retail industry, it is important to consider what is likely not being reported in the press, which is that the retail industry is performing better than many would assume.

Barbara Byrne Denham serves as an economist and Victor Calanog as chief economist with Reis, Inc, a provider of commercial real estate data and analytics.

Commercial Real Estate, Development, Economics, Executive Insight Series, Housing, Industry News, Investment Real Estate, Real Estate Programs, Real Estate Trends, Think Outside The Box, Twin Cities Real Estate, Upcoming UST Events

Real Estate Executive Insight Speaker Series Bob Lux – Inside the Mind of A Developer

 

Real Estate Executive Insight Series

Bob Lux – Inside the Mind of A Developer 

Event Details Tuesday, March 28th 2017 5:30 p.m. University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis Campus Schulze Hall, Room 127

A candid conversation with industry leader Bob Lux, Founder Alatus LLC

Quality real estate development requires innovative thinking. Bob Lux, founder of Alatus LLC, has been in the real estate development and investment business for over 30 years. His company’s mission is to provide innovative solutions and high quality projects by wisely using his team’s talents and strengths to achieve the client’s vision and form a better community.   Lux will discuss the challenges, opportunities and trends in developing residential and commercial real estate in the Twin Cities. Lux will also share his views on the condo market and as the largest private owner of parking facilities in Minnesota Bob will outline his expectations for future parking and infrastructure needs in the downtown area.

Agenda 5:30-6 p.m. Networking 6-7 p.m. Presentation by Bob Lux

Register Today
 
Commercial Real Estate, Commercial Real Estate Index, Economics, Industry News, Office Real Estate, Real Estate Trends, Retail Real Estate, Twin Cities Real Estate

Minnesota Commercial Real Estate Outlook Showing Few Changes Following Election, says University of St Thomas Minnesota Commercial Real Estate Survey

The December 2016 University of St. Thomas/Minnesota Commercial Real Estate Survey, taken entirely after the November 8th election, shows few changes in commercial real estate leaders outlook. The biannual survey projects a two-year-ahead outlook for Minnesota’s commercial real estate industry and forecasts potential opportunities and challenges affecting all commercial real estate sectors.

In all 12 surveys the same group of 50 industry leaders have been polled on their expectations for future commercial real estate activity in six categories: rents, occupancy levels, land prices, cost of building materials, rate of return, and equity requirements. Their responses are used to create index scores that can be compared over time. Scores higher than 50 represent a more optimistic view of the market over the next two years; scores less than 50 represent a more pessimistic view.

The panel is expecting to see a continuation of the favorable market conditions for commercial real estate that we have been experiencing for the last two to three years. The results of the November 8th presidential election does not appear to have significantly changed their outlook for the next two years

Observations from 2016 have recorded few major changes in expectations from before the election compared to after the election. “The natural cycle in commercial real estate appears to be running its course somewhat independent of the presidential contest” says Herb Tousley, Director of the Real Estate Programs at the University of St Thomas. “While the forecast for 2017 still looks good, the increase in online shopping, higher interest rates, and the continued redefinition of the office environment will remain major factors in the performance of commercial real estate in 2017.”

Here is a look at the panel’s responses for each of the questions.

Rent Expectations

An outlook that rents will continue to increase at current rates. The index for rental rates has increased from a highly optimistic 60 to a slightly more optimistic 61. This is an indication of an expectation of continued rent growth over the next two years and that the economy will continue to grow and that business conditions will continue improve.

Occupancy Expectations

A moderately positive outlook on expected occupancy levels. The index for occupancy levels increased moderately from 52 to 54. This indicates the panelists continue in their belief that occupancy levels will increase slightly over the next two years. This is a continuation of a trend that began 1 ½ years ago that reflects their expectation that business will continue to expand and will need more space.

Land Price Expectations

Increases in land prices are expected to moderate. The panel’s outlook for land prices reveals an expectation that land prices will increase at a slower rate between now and fall 2018. The land price index has increased (become less pessimistic) for the fourth consecutive survey moving from 40 last spring to 46 this fall.

Building Material Price Expectations

Increases in the price of building materials are expected accelerate.  The index for the price of building supplies took a sharp turn downward, moving from a strongly negative 32 to an even more negative 29. This reflects the panel’s strong belief that rate of increase in building material prices will accelerate over the next two years.

Return on Investment Expectations

Investors return expectations are expected to increase slightly over the next two years. The index for investor’s return expectations has decreased slightly moving from 48 to 46. This slight decline indicates that investors will be looking for higher returns. The consensus among survey respondents indicates that investors will be seeking higher returns due to their expectation of increasing interest rates over the next two years.

Lending Expectations

More equity is expected to be required.  The index for the amount of equity required by lenders decreased significantly, falling from 42 in to 36. This indicates the panel’s strong belief that credit will be available for good projects but lenders will be more risk adverse by increasing their equity requirements in the coming two years.

 More Information

Additional details can be found on the Shenehon Center’s website: http://www.stthomas.edu/business/centers/shenehon/research/default.html.

Commercial Real Estate, Commercial Real Estate Index, Development, Economics, Industrial Real Estate, Industry News, Investment Real Estate, Office Real Estate, Real Estate Trends, Retail Real Estate, Twin Cities Real Estate

Semiannual Survey of the Twin Cities Commercial Real Estate Experts Predicts Continued Favorable Market Conditions

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Leaders in the field of Minnesota commercial real estate expect to see a continuation of the favorable market conditions for commercial real estate that we have been experiencing for the past two to three years.

May 2016 Results

The semi-annual Minnesota Commercial Real Estate Survey conducted in May 2016 has produced some interesting results. Overall, the survey continues to indicate a slightly less than neutral expectation looking ahead two years to spring 2018 for commercial real estate. The composite index was recorded at 46. This is the sixth consecutive survey where the composite index has been in the 46 – 48 range. Index values greater than 50 represent a more optimistic view of the market over the next two years, with values of less than 50 indicating a more pessimistic view. Although the composite index level is similar to previous surveys the pattern of the individual indexes in the current survey is very different.

As was done with all ten of the previous surveys, the same group of 50 commercial real estate industry leaders involved in development, finance, and investment were polled regarding their expectations of near-term, future commercial real estate activity. One thing we have observed in the current survey is there is less variation in the responses and that has caused a more uniform response rate reflecting the panel’s increased certainty in their views. The individual indexes are detailed below:

Rent Expectations

Less optimistic outlook that rents will continue to increase at current rates. Market conditions expected in spring 2018 are best described by the price for space (rental rates) and the supply of space (occupancy levels). The index for rental rates has declined from a highly optimistic 66 to a somewhat less optimistic 60. This is an indication of an expectation of a moderation of rent growth over the next two years. Higher rents help to offset the increased costs of new construction. A slowdown in rent growth puts pressure on expected returns that will be achieved by developers and owners.

Occupancy Expectations

A continued neutral outlook on expected occupancy levels. The index for occupancy levels increased slightly from 50 to 52. Despite the increase, the panelists continue in their expectation that occupancy levels will remain steady at current levels. As new buildings have been completed it takes some time for the market to absorb the new space. Over the last 2 years the occupancy index has been drifting downward towards a neutral expectation concerning the demand for space.

Land Price Expectations

Increases in land prices are expected to moderate. The panel’s outlook for land prices reveals an expectation that land prices will increase at a slower rate between now and spring 2018. The land price index has increased (become less pessimistic) for the third consecutive survey moving from 37 last fall to 40 this fall this spring. The low point for the index was recorded at 31 in the fall 2013 survey. This sentiment while still in pessimistic territory indicates an expectation that land prices will moderate their rate of increase during the next two years. Increasing land prices increase total project costs and are a hindrance to new development, making it more difficult to obtain financing and adequate returns for investors.

Building Material Price Expectations

Increases in the price of building materials are also expected moderate.  The spring 2016 survey reveals that for the fourth consecutive survey our panel continues to become less pessimistic about the rate of increase in price of building materials. The building material index moved from a strongly negative 32 to a somewhat less negative 37, reflecting the panel’s opinion that building material price increases are expected to moderate. Since building materials are a major cost component of any development project any improvement in prices will be favorable for future development.

Return on Investment Expectations

Investors return expectations remain unchanged over the next two years. The index for investor’s return expectations has increased slightly for the third consecutive survey at 48. Although this index value is slightly pessimistic, it is essentially neutral.  The consensus among survey respondents continues to indicate that investors expected returns will not change significantly in the next two years. Investors will continue to seek out quality investments but they are being much more diligent about how they price risk and evaluate return when considering their investment options.

Lending Expectations

More equity is expected to be required.  The index for the amount of equity required by lenders decreased significantly, falling from 51 in to 42. This indicates the panel’s strong belief that credit will be available for good projects but lenders will increase their equity requirements in the coming two years. The good news is that more equity should result in better rates and terms; however, the bad news is that in many cases equity is harder to find and more expensive than debt.

 Summary

To summarize the panel is expecting to see a continuation of the favorable market conditions for commercial real estate that we have been experiencing for the last 2 to 3 years, however there will be some differences as to why this will happen. The panel has moved from a positive to a neutral position on occupancy. With all of the new product coming on line it is expected that given a little time the market will be able to absorb all of the new space but while this happens occupancy rates will be depressed in the short run. Additionally, the panel expects to see continued rent growth, however, that growth will be at a slower rate as new product comes on line and is absorbed. Development efforts will be helped by an expected moderation in the rate of increase in land prices and building materials. The panel is also expecting to see lenders tighten their lending standards somewhat. That results in lower loan amounts and higher equity requirements on development projects. Higher equity requirements makes development more difficult since equity dollars are more expensive and using less debt financing tends to reduce the rate of return on a project. Overall, our panelists see continuing activity at or near present levels in most categories of commercial real estate during the next two years.

May 2016 Commercial Survey

Best of Real Estate Matters, Commercial Real Estate, Development, Green Building, Historic Tax Credits, Housing Trends, Investment Real Estate, Minneapolis / St. Paul Housing, Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame, Minnesota Real Estate Journal, Real Estate Programs, Real Estate Trends, Think Outside The Box, Twin Cities Real Estate, Urban Planning, UST Real Estate in the News

New Members of Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame Announced

The Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame, established in 2010 by the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business, will add three new members in a morning ceremony Thursday, Nov. 5th, at the Golden Valley Golf and Country Club.

Members of the Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame are chosen for their outstanding business performance, high standards of ethics and community activities. The three new members

Dan DolanWells Fargo

For more than 50 years, Dan Dolan has pursued a career in real estate. He was a leader in improving the professional and ethical standards in real estate and was an early promoter and employer of women in real estate sales. His real estate developments include the Evergreen Community, an upscale residential development in Woodbury; and the Oakdale Crossing Business Park.

Throughout his career, Dolan has been actively involved in boards and fundraising, including the merger of Cretin and Durham high schools, fund raising for the University of St. Thomas, and serving as King Boreas XLII in the 1978 St. Paul Winter Carnival. He may be eligible for retirement, but Dolan is just as passionate as ever about real estate development and continues to receive offers of employment in the industry.

Larry Laukka  

Since 1962, Larry Laukka has actively served in all  aspects of the real estate industry, but primarily in the building and development business. Laukka’s experience has included the design, development, financing, construction and marketing of more than 6,000 dwelling units and home sites throughout the greater Twin Cities community, and the management of approximately 3,000 owner-occupied townhomes and condominiums. His leadership roles include president and director of the Minneapolis Builders Association (MBA), senior life director of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and founder of the Minnesota Housing Institute (MHI), which served the real estate industry’s state-wide needs to commercially promote home ownership and legislative action.

In the 1960s, Laukka worked with The Near Northside Re-Development Agency, a community based organization established to guide the redevelopment of the near north side of Minneapolis. The agency focused on the growing need for market rate housing and led to the development of single-family housing, hailed as “The Suburb in the City.”  After being approached by Governer Wendell Anderson, Laukka helped develop the State Housing Finance Agency and chaired the Minnesota State Housing Code Advisory Board until a state-wide building code was in place. Most recently, he served on the Fairview Southdale Hospital board of trustees and chaired the development of its new Carl N. Platou Emergency Center opened August 2015.

James Solem

For more than 40 years, James Solem provided outstanding leadership and tireless work in real estate finance and public policy, supporting the development of rental and ownership housing for low and moderate income households. He was the executive director of the Minnesota State Planning Agency from 1970 to 1978, and served as commissioner of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency from 1978 to 1994 – a position he was appointed to five times by three Minnesota governors. From 1994 to 2000, Solem was the regional administrator for the Metropolitan Council, leading the long-range planning for transit, wastewater, parks and community development in the seven-county metropolitan area.  From 2000 – 2006, at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), he led a project to bring new ideas to the issues of affordable housing and regional growth.

Now retired from the Metropolitan Council, Solem is active with consulting and volunteer service. He is chairman of the board of the Community Reinvestment Fund and of the boards of Common Bond Housing Corporation and the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund. Throughout his career, Solem demonstrated an exceptional knowledge of operations and governmental polices, brought a high level of ethical standards to the real estate industry and championed those most in need.

The program is open to the public and the cost is $60. More information is available at http://www.stthomas.edu/centers/shenehon/minnesota-real-estate-hall-of-fame/

To register use the following link:    https://webapp.stthomas.edu/eventregistration/ust/register.jsp?eventcrn=B1973

The Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame now has 30 members. Previously named were:

  • 2010: Tony Bernardi, Lloyd Engelsma, Gerald Rauenhorst, William Reiling, Jim Ryan and Sam Thorpe Sr.
  • 2011: Robert Hoffman, Darrel Holt, Bernard Rice, Emma Rovick and five members of the Dayton family: Bruce and the late Douglas, Donald, Kenneth and Wallace.
  • 2012: David Bell, Robert Boblett Sr., Philip Smaby and Boyd Stofer.
  • 2013: Leonard Bisanz, Helen Brooks, Thomas Crowley, M.A. Mortenson Sr. and Kenneth Stensby.
  • 2014: George Karvel Ph.D., Cyril “Cy” Kuefler Sr., Jim Stanton

 

Commercial Real Estate, Office Real Estate, Real Estate Trends, Twin Cities Real Estate

North Loop Among Top 10 Tech Submarkets for Rent Growth Nationwide

The North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis is among the top ten tech office submarkets for rent growth in the nation, according to a recent report by CBRE. Office rents in the area have shot up by more than 20% in just two years, which is double the rate for the overall Minneapolis office market. The North Loop also ranked fifth nationally for net absorption growth, which was at 8.2 percent during the same period. These numbers put the North Loop among an elite class of tech office submarkets in the nation, posting similar numbers to San Francisco’s SOMA and Austin’s Northwest submarkets.

Source: CBRE

Source: CBRE

The growth is driven by demand among tech firms for non-traditional office space with features such as brick-and-timber construction and exposed ceilings, features common to the North Loop’s many historic warehouse and light industrial buildings. The demand has led to low vacancy rates and created an environment ripe for new development, something developer Hines Interests hopes to capitalize on with its T3 project which will incorporate many of the design features that tech firms want and which are typically only found in historic buildings, such as exposed wood ceilings.

Hines hopes to capture some of the North Loop tech office demand with its new construction T3 building.

 The trend is also likely to drive additional conversions of historic buildings to office space. One example of this is the recent announcement that Artic Cat will move its corporate headquarters to a renovated warehouse in the North Loop in order to help attract new employees.

Recreational vehicle manufacturer Artic Cat recently announced it would move its corporate headquarters to the renovated Western Container building in the North Loop.

It remains to be seen whether the North Loop can sustain continued growth in absorption and rents for tech office space. A recent Start Trib article on the CBRE report quoted Tyler Kollodge, a Minneapolis-based CBRE broker: “The high demand and low vacancy rate has allowed landlords to push rental rates; however, most of the tenants in the area have been there for several years and are facing sticker shock when they see the new proposed rental rates on a potential lease renewal.”

However, national and local trends point to continued growth in the tech office market. The CBRE report noted that the high-tech software/services industry has created over  700,000 new jobs nationally since 2009 (at a growth rate of 34%), which accounts for one-fifth of all new office-using jobs. And in a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Minnesota ranked number one for tech job growth in 2015, growing 8.3 percent in the first six months of this year.

The full CBRE “Tech-Thirty 2015” report is available here.

Commercial Real Estate

Despite some headwinds, Minnesota commercial real estate survey finds general optimism

Minneapolis, Minn.  —   Leaders in the field of Minnesota commercial real estate are generally optimistic about their industry and economic conditions in general. However, they also have identified some headwinds related to land prices and the cost of building materials.

That is the theme of the ninth Minnesota Commercial Real Estate Survey that was conducted in May. The semiannual poll of 50 Minnesota commercial real estate leaders from the fields of development, finance and investment is conducted by the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business.

In all nine surveys the same group of 50 industry leaders have been polled on their expectations of future commercial real estate activity. Their responses are used to create index scores that can be compared over time. Scores higher than 50 represent a more optimistic view of the market over the next two years; scores less than 50 represent a more pessimistic view.

The composite score for the May survey stands at 46 and continues a “slightly less-than-neutral” trend for the fifth-consecutive survey.

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“This survey’s composite results reflect a mixed bag of optimism in some areas and pessimism in others” said Herb Tousley, director of real estate programs at the university. “This is similar to the pattern that was observed in our previous survey. However, the degree of optimism and pessimism has become slightly more moderate.”

Price for Space

The index score for rental rates remains positive at 66, which Tousley said is “an indication that our panel is still expecting strong rent growth for the next two years.”

The index for occupancy levels moved from 62 to 56. “Despite the decrease, the panelists remain optimistic that rents and occupancy levels will continue to improve,” he said.

This marks the ninth-consecutive survey with positive index scores in these two areas. That indicates, he said, “continued optimism that the economy is going to continue to improve and there will be a continued demand for additional space.”

Land Prices

The panel’s outlook for land prices reveals a strong expectation that land prices will continue to increase. The land-price index increased slightly, moving from 31 in the previous survey to 35 in the May survey.

“Increasing land prices increase total project costs and are a hindrance to new development, making it more difficult to obtain financing and adequate returns for investors,” he said.

Building Materials

The building-material index moved from a negative 24 to a somewhat less pessimistic 29.

“That reflects the panel’s opinion that building-material price increases are expected to moderate sightly,” Tousley said. “A moderation in price increases will be favorable for future development.”

Return for Investors

The index for investors’ returns decreased from an essentially neutral 48 to a more pessimistic 41.

“The consensus of the panel indicates that investors will expect higher returns in two years, leaving less profit for the developers,” he said. “There was a concern that interest rates that have been at record-low levels for the past seven years will be higher two years from now, requiring higher rates of return on future investments.

“Higher interest rates will add to total project costs and higher project costs will squeeze project return on investment. Investors will continue to seek out quality investments but they are being much more diligent about how they price risk and evaluate return when considering their investment options.”

Required Equity

The index for the amount of equity required by lenders dropped from 57 to 53.

“This indicates the panel’s belief that credit will be available for good projects but lenders will increase their equity requirements in the coming two years,” he said.

“This indicates the panel’s belief that credit will still be available for good projects but that lenders will increase their equity requirements in the coming two years. The good news is that more equity should result in better rates and terms; however, the bad news is that in many cases equity is harder to find and more expensive than debt,” Tousley said.

Accuracy

With nine surveys completed since the Minnesota Commercial Real Estate Survey began in 2010, the researchers compared the panel’s past predictions with how things actually turned out.

It turns out that market conditions in May 2015 are very close to what the panel predicted in May 2013. Some examples:

  • In 2013 the panel predicted higher rents in 2015. The average net rents for all types of industrial properties in the Twin Cities went from $5.70 per square foot in 2013 to $6.15 per square foot in 2015.
  • In 2013 the panel predicted higher occupancy in 2015. The average direct vacancy for industrial properties in the Twin Cities went from 8.1 percent in 2013 to 7 in 2015.
  • In 2013 the panel predicted higher costs for building materials in 2015. Although the price for lumber decreased, the Mortenson Construction Cost Index for the Twin Cities increased from 104 in 2013 to 114 in 2015.

Summary

“It appears that our panel’s expectations of higher land costs and the higher cost of building materials are the primary culprits driving the composite index to its slightly below neutral level,” Tousley said.

“Despite the headwinds created by higher project and acquisition costs, the panel has strong expectations that general economic conditions in our area will continue to improve and there will be an increasing demand for space. The demand for more space will put upward pressure on rents. Higher revenues in the form of higher rent will offset most of the much of the expected increase in the price of land and building materials, allowing owners and investors to achieve their required returns and development to move forward.

“Conditions for development and acquisitions have definitely improved since the last survey. Based on the survey results our panel expects that even if interest rates increase modestly, development and acquisition activity will continue at near present levels for the next two years.”