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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

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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.

Untitled

“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.”

Commercial Real Estate

Minnesota United FC Outdoor Soccer Stadium Plan

Minnesota United FC is a professional soccer team that plays in the North American Soccer League (NASL), a division II league in the American league system. On March 25th, 2015, the team finally got the long-awaited opportunity to move up to division I by officially being awarded the 23rd MLS franchise. Minnesota United FC MLS debut is set for either the 2017 or 2018 season, thus giving the organization enough time to build a new stadium with higher capacity than the current one as the team will be welcoming more Minnesotan fans.

Source: Minnesota United FC

Source: Minnesota United FC

According to MLS, Minnesota United FC owner Bill McGuire met with Minnesota governor Mark Dayton and state legislators last Tuesday, April 14, 2015 to explain his group’s plan of an 18,500-capacity outdoor soccer stadium in an area of Minneapolis known as West Loop. The stadium construction will cost $120 million, with $30 million allotted for land acquisition.

Commercial Real Estate

RadioShack Closing Stores

After 94 years of operation, American electronics retail chain RadioShack filed for bankruptcy with $1.2 billion in assets and $1.38 billion in liabilities in a Delaware court on Thursday, 2/5. Changing technology and consumer habits seem to have been a tougher challenge for RadioShack as e-commerce giants such as Amazon and eBay continue to take over. Standard General, a private equity fund, announced that it will acquire 2,400 RadioShack stores and will work with Sprint to create 1,750 store-within-a store concepts nationwide. In Minnesota, over 20 RadioShack stores are expected to close as a result of this bankruptcy filing.

Source: Forbes

RadioShack filed for bankruptcy (Source: Forbes)

 

 

Commercial Real Estate, International Real Estate

Future of Target’s 133 soon-to-be Vacant Stores in Canada

On Thursday, January 15, 2015, Target Corp. announced that it will exit the Canadian market by closing its 133 stores due to disappointing financial results from this past holiday season. Target Corp. CEO Brian Cornell described it as a failure to seduce Canadian consumers since the company’s 2013 expansion. He added that this market exit decision also came after concluding that the company would not become profitable until 2021.

Source: Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Source: Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS

From a real-estate perspective, the question now is “What will happen to Target’s 133 soon-to-be vacant stores in Canada?” The Toronto Star just reported that Canada-based GoodLife Fitness and New Hampshire-based Planet Fitness are both interested in some of the spaces that will be vacated by Target Canada as it’s expecting to complete its stores shut down by May or June of this year.

Architecture & Design, Commercial Real Estate, Development, Industry News, International Real Estate, Think Outside The Box, Urban Planning

Rising Towers Escalate Need for Faster Lifts

 The following article by  was reposted from the current issue of Urban Land Magazine

December 1, 2014

Shanghai-tower_800

When Shanghai Tower opens as China’s tallest building next year, the 2,073-foot (632 m) tower will feature elevators capable of traveling 40.3 miles (64.8 km) per hour, or 59 feet (18 m) per second, a new milestone. That bests the 55.1 feet (16.8 m) per second achieved by the elevators in the current record holder, Taipei 101 in Taiwan, which was completed in 2004.

But Shanghai Tower likely will not hold the title as world’s fastest for long. Builders of the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, which is scheduled to open in 2016 in Guangzhou, China, have promised elevators capable of traveling 66 feet (20 m) per second, or 45 miles (72 km) per hour. The elevators will take passengers from the first floor to the 95th floor in about 43 seconds.

The question facing the industry today: how fast can elevators go without sacrificing comfort?

“This is a new day,” says Steve Edgett, partner in Edgett Williams Consulting Groups, which works on elevator designs. “We’re in uncharted territory.” Some analysts believe mankind may be close to the limits of elevator speeds using modern technology. “I think there is a limit, not to building, but what we can do efficiently,” says Johannes de Jong, head of technology for Finland-based Kone Elevators.

Kingdom_Tower_360

Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower will feature the longest single elevator ride in a building, about 2,165 feet (660 m). (Kone Corporation)

The biggest obstacle for faster speeds is the variance in air pressure from the bottom to the top of tall buildings. A superfast elevator leaves no time for the body to adjust to the changes in pressure, similar to the effect experienced by divers surfacing too quickly in the ocean.

For elevators to go faster, something will have to be done to accommodate the human ear, which is extremely sensitive to pressure changes. Commercial jets typically take 20 to 30 minutes to descend from their highest altitude and help passengers adjust, yet earaches and complaints are still common. “One thing we cannot do is change the laws of physics,” de Jong says.

For the Guangzhou tower, Japanese tech firm Hitachi, which is building the elevators, will use a sophisticated control panel that can respond to “changes in atmospheric pressure correctly” to smooth the acceleration and deceleration process and “relieve the feeling of fullness in the ear as a result,” a company spokesperson says. This adjustment technology will reduce the abrupt pressure changes inside the elevator car, while special “active guide rollers” will compensate for even tiny lateral vibrations, Hitachi says.

But there is no guarantee the measures will provide a comfortable ride. Every person’s physiology is different; people with colds or earaches may be more susceptible to ear problems. At 66 feet (20 m) per second, even the slightest vibration will create a shock for passengers.

In Taipei 101 and other existing tall buildings, the elevators are usually set to descend much slower than they ascend in order to ease the ride. Nevertheless, passenger complaints are common. “At nine meters [30 feet] a second, I felt my ears pop,” Edgett says.

In the one-kilometer-tall (0.6 mi) Kingdom Tower under construction in Saudi Arabia—which likely will become the next “tallest building in the world”—Kone expects elevator speeds to peak at 33 to 41 feet (10 to 12.5 m) per second. “It’s up to the client,” de Jong says. “We have to show him how it feels.”

However, Kingdom Tower will feature the longest single elevator ride in a building, about 2,165 feet (660 m), using a new carbon fiber cable designed by Kone called UltraRope, which is dramatically lighter and stronger than steel cables.

Read the entire article at http://urbanland.uli.org/planning-design/rising-towers-escalate-need-faster-lifts/?utm_source=uli&utm_medium=eblast&utm_campaign=120114