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Development, Industry News, Real Estate Trends

Looking for a Victory? The Vikings May Want to Try Left Field…

Yes. Although we are academics and we spent more time reading through investment prospectuses and development plans than watching Sports Center, we are well aware there is no left field in football. However, after the lackluster performance of the Purple and Gold last year, Mr. Wilf and Co. may want to look to their peers on the other side of downtown (the ones who do have a left field). Despite the sluggish start for the Twins (there is still time!), one thing is certainly not subpar about Minnesota sports currently, and that is Target Field. By any standards, the eight acres that only five years ago was a parking lot, is now one of those landmark buildings that represents the identity of the entire state.  All good buildings, businesses, ideas, etc. start somewhere, with someone, and even though everyone probably has had thousands of big ideas, few people get to see them realized. That is the hard part about great ideas, plainly put, it’s really hard to turn them into anything. The men who came up with the idea for Target Field, Bruce Lambrecht & Dave Albersman spent years working on moving the Twins to, what is now Target Field. (for that story click here). lucky enough for the Vikings, the same two men are fired up and at it again. Lets just hope the Vikings, and the politicians who are responsible for this decision, decide to pay attention.

Proposed Stadium at the Farmers Market Site, courtesy of Bruce Lambrecht

Proposed Stadium at the Farmers Market Site, courtesy of Bruce Lambrecht

The similarities between the Viking’s current situation and the Twin’s search for a new home are eerily similar. The Vikings have, for several years, voiced concerns about playing in the Metrodome, and were fairly clear that they were not interested in renewing their lease at the Metrodome. The “fairly” was clearly removed on December 12th, of last year when this happened… During the offseason several plans have emerged, and sites proposed for development of a new stadium. Recently, the talk has been narrowed down to three sites, (1) Rebuilding on the current Metrodome property, (2) A stadium in Arden Hills, a suburb 10 miles north of St. Paul, and (3) Developing a site near Target Field, on what is now a series of small buildings, storage facilities, and the Minneapolis farmers market. Mr. Lambrecht and Mr. Albersman are the driving force behind the third option, and have begun the same arduous process that the probably swore they would never start again. Each of the three site has positives and challenges, and will undoubtably require a great deal of planning and foresight if anyone is going to become nearly as successful as Target Field.

The first major battle, and the one that causes the strongest emotions is who, how, and what will pay for this project. Two recent studies looked at the total cost of developing, building, and creating the infrastructure necessary for the project, Finance & Commerce reports,

An analysis from the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission says the “hard and soft” construction costs for the Metrodome and Arden Hills sites are about the same – $825 million for the dome site, $859 million for Arden Hills. However, the Arden Hills location would require up to $339.5 million in highway, parking, pedestrian access and utility improvements, which brings the total price tag to $1.2 billion, the analysis said. By contrast, the Metrodome location needs a far more modest $29.9 million in such improvements, for a total cost of $895 million. Also on Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton released the findings of a separate analysis that says it would cost up to $240 million for the transportation improvements needed to accommodate the Arden Hills location. Dayton said any state contribution to the project would be capped at $300 million – including the cost of road improvements.

“I support the project in either location up to that amount,” Dayton said. “If one project is more expensive than the other, the Vikings are going to have to make up that difference unless the local partner does.” To read the entire story click here

Although the Farmers Market site was not included in this study, Mr. Lambrecht has provided estimates that would place the total cost of the site in the same range as the Metrodome. It is also important to note that at this point in the search for a new Twins Ballpark, Mr. Lambrecht’s parking lot was barely even in consideration. The key behind Mr. Lambrecht’s plan is the same as it was for Target Field, in that an accessible urban sports venue is valuable to everyone in the state, even those who could care less about football. Mr. Lambrecht was right the first time, and has since quieted almost everyone of the many critics, who thought a new Twins stadium was too expensive, the site was too small, and any other reason imaginable. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope he is able to repeat history, and make lightning strike twice in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.

This is the first in a series of stories about this topic, which is sure to dominate headlines in the sports, real estate, local/metro, and front page of the states newspapers (if anyone still reads them…) Check back for more.


Commercial Real Estate, Development, Executive Insight Series, Industry News, Real Estate Trends, Residential Real Estate, Retail Real Estate

Executive Insight Series- Dennis Doyle

Dennis-Doyle“My life is lived from the inside out. My principle values, experience and leadership come from the inside, and guide my life on the outside. It’s an inside job. It seems that everyone is wired differently. Some of us want to make a lot of money, while others want to save the world and help people. You CAN do both! Everyone needs to figure it out. Work is a huge part of it. If you find the right work and path, life can be a real joy and blessing.”

Dennis Doyle, Executive Chairman of the Welsh Property Trust, started his career in real estate as an adolescent who spent his summers working construction for his neighbor, George Welsh. During that period, Mr. Doyle’s passion for construction and development grew exponentially, part of the credit, according to Mr. Doyle, belongs to his older brothers who forced him to work harder to keep up. He left real estate briefly to attend college on a football scholarship, with the intention of becoming a coach, however Mr. Doyle soon realized that this was not his true goal, and returned home to continue his career developing and constructing buildings. In 1977, Mr. Doyle and Mr. Welsh (same childhood neighbor) entered into a handshake agreement, that formed the Welsh Companies, and has shaped the last 30 years of Mr. Doyle’s life. Reflecting on this story, and on his subsequent career, Mr. Doyle lamented,  “I love being able to put my personal touch on buildings, and am very fortunate to have found my life’s passions and being able to continue working in this field.”

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Business Valuation, Commercial Real Estate, Development, Industry News, Real Estate Trends

News Brief: CoStar Study Wins Top Academic Honor from American Real Estate Society

$11,000,000,000,000

How does one comprehend the above figure? It is a very large number with many zero’s, in fact, it’s so large even a fancy BAII+ financial calculator has to express the number as a exponent of the 10th power (11 * e^12). The name for this sum can vary depending on which country you are in, and unfortunately since the US and Britain saw fit to simply swap the names around, a trillion is 10^12 in the US, and in old english it is considered a billion (a trillion in the old system is 10^18, or a quintillion in the US). Since the definition of this figure does little to aide in the quantification of this figure, it is necessary to use tangible comparisons. 11 trillion dollar bills stacked on top of each other would be 737,000 miles high, in relation the moon is approximately 240,000 miles. Besides the United States and the European Union, 11 trillion dollars surpasses the GDP of every other nation in the world (according to the CIA fact book).

The attempt at quantifying this figure was done in the hopes of imparting the sheer magnitude of this number as well as the mind-boggling size of it, constructing a model that represents data and economic factors that are able to compute the necessary macro and micro forces affecting this figure is simply amazing. This is precisely what researchers at CoStar did in their comprehensive study of the United States commercial real estate market, with their findings and analysis published in the Journal of Real Estate Portfolio Management (JREPM). While this is undoubtably a very exciting study, there has never been a comprehensive valuation of the entire countries real estate, the data collected is far from novel. Having the ability to quantify and value one of the largest asset classes in the world (the only one larger that comes to mind is the US stock exchange at 16 trillion) will allow investors, developers, the government, and anyone else involved in commercial real estate a powerful new model for analyzing the macro effects of economic shifts on the entirety of the asset class. In recognition for their outstanding work, the authors received the best paper of 2010 by The American Real Estate Society (ARES).

The press release from CoStar is below, including a link to read the paper as published in the JREPM.

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Commercial Real Estate, Industry News, Property Management, Real Estate Trends, Residential Real Estate, Retail Real Estate, Uncategorized

Weekly Recap

A collection of the most important stories this week that are making headlines in the real estate industry

From the Chicago Tribune | Home improvement sales rebound- Lowe’s, the nations second largest home improvement retailer, is reporting a 15% increase in seasonal hiring, a sign that the home improvement business is stabilizing ahead of the greater real estate industry. This appears to be another strange aftereffect of the real estate crisis, with the article attributing the increase in home improvements to existing home owners opting to fix up their old homes, as opposed to buying a new home. Overall 1Q 2011 spending is expected to increase 9.1% to $125.1 billion.

From Calculated Risk | CoreLogic- House prices declined 2.7% in February, prices now 4.1% below 2009 lows- The bottom of the slide in housing prices is still being determined, as the most recent numbers from CoreLogic paint a dreary picture for potential home sellers. Overall, the mean selling price of homes across the country continues to plummet, with a decline of 6.7% in February 2011 compared to February 2010. However, as this blog and many other real estate analysts are pointing out, the news isn’t as grim when the market is properly quantified. Currently the percentage of distressed homes being sold is significantly higher than market averages, causing an overall decline in the mean home prices across the country. According to Mark Fleming, chief economist with CoreLogic.

“When you remove distressed properties from the equation, we’re seeing a significantly reduced pace of depreciation and greater stability in many markets.  Price declines are increasingly isolated to the distressed segment of thee market, mostly in the form of REO sales, as the stock of foreclosures is slowly cleared.”

CoreLogic has adjusted figures (which exclude the sale of distressed properties) showing a decline of .1% over the same period, which continues a trend towards stabilization and hopefully indicates positive gains in home owners equity moving forward. to read the entire report click here.

From the Star Tribune | Almost half of all March closed home sales in the Twin Cities were foreclosures- Relating to the previous article, the Star Tribune reports that 43% of home sales in March were distressed properties. This sent the median home price into a nosedive, dropping 15% to $140,000, however excluding distressed properties, the picture is a little brighter. Looking at previous March sales, without including 2010 (the new home owner tax credit created unusual demand), sales in March 2011 were up 6% and 15% for 2009 and 2008 respectively.

mallvacancy


From the Wall Street Journal | Malls face surge in vacancies- From a record low vacancy rate of 5.1% in 2005 to todays less rosy 9.1%, mall owners are facing increased pressure due to the changing shopping behavior of Americans, as well a loss of customers in the exurbs of America’s largest cities.  One segment that appears to be regaining traction is the upscale mall industry, that has reduced its nationwide vacancy to 7%, although this is still above what is considered healthy in the sector. As technology and connectivity spreads to more individuals, retailers will be forced to ask serious questions about their business models, and the need for massive retail space in as many locations as possible.



Commercial Real Estate, Development, Executive Insight Series, Industry News, Real Estate Trends, Residential Real Estate, Retail Real Estate, Uncategorized

Executive Insight Series: Bob Lux and the 14 Million Dollar Question About Block E

Bob Lux- Principal at Alatus Development

Bob Lux- Principal at Alatus Development

“So, what is the plan for Block E?”

A simple question that was definitely on every attendee’s mind at the most recent Real Estate Executive Insight Series. However, the answer isn’t so simple, and if it were not for Bob Lux’s (principal at Alatus LLC) charisma, intelligence, and experience in leading major, press-worthy development projects the answer might not have been as well received. As any gifted public figure would, Mr. Lux skirted the question, but in his sidestep, alluded to several important things concerning the future of Block E, as well as the kind of person Mr. Lux is. Before his answer can be assessed properly, it is important to understand Mr. Lux’s history, professional accomplishments, and his philosophy on development (and life).

Mr. Lux grew up in a Long Prairie, a small community in central Minnesota, a town that most likely does not have a building higher than the many crop silos that dot the agrarian landscape. Like many young men from small towns, Mr. Lux left home in search of success and the experience that can only be found in the “big city”. After earning his degree in Business Administration from the University of Minnesota, Mr. Lux returned to Long Prairie with the intention of starting a home building business in the area. He purchased a lumber yard with his father and began building farmers homesteads in the immediate area. Although this was quite different than the projects he would eventually oversee, Mr. Lux quickly learned the importance of adding value to differentiate his product, otherwise it would simply be a commodity.

After a short time at home the urge to return to city life became to great to resist, and once again, Mr. Lux left Long Prairie for the Twin Cities. His first employer, The Dominium Group, was developing high-density suburban real estate, which faced major issues surrounding obtaining approval from the community and local government for the rezoning of  land for this use. Suburban homeowners are very protective of their communities, and the amount of space that each homesite has was a reflection of the owners desire for privacy and quiet living. Mr. Lux’s first assignment was in Eagan, MN, where he faced opposition form the mayor as well as landowners surrounding the proposed site. To change the attitudes of the landowners surrounding the site, who were a critical stakeholder in the success of the project, Mr. Lux used a mixture of logic, emotional appeal, and financial acumen to reach out to each of the parties and work with them to develop a compromised plan that met the needs of everyone. In the end this project was approved, and through it, Mr. Lux learned one of the key lessons that has helped him throughout his career. During the lecture, he repeatedly cited the ability to listen to, and connect with people as the most important skill he has, and the main reason why projects fail or succeed.

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Commercial Real Estate, Development, Executive Insight Series, Industry News, Minnesota Real Estate Journal, Real Estate Trends, Retail Real Estate, Uncategorized, Upcoming Industry Events, Upcoming UST Events

Block E: A Deal Alatus Could Not Refuse

blocke7The short history of the building currently occupying the 600 block of Hennepin, know commonly as Block E,  in downtown Minneapolis is a staggeringly accurate metaphor paralleling the last decade of the greater real estate market. According to Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal, the original cost of developing the site in 2001 (less the $36.25 million spent on the Graves Hotel which did not change ownership) was $105.75 million. When Alatus Development purchased the development in July, 2010 they paid a paltry $14 million, or roughly 13.23% of the original price. At the risk free rate of return (based on the 10 year T-bill which average 4.42% over the period) the investment in Block E would be worth $162.973 million, resulting in a savings of $148.973 million for Alatus in todays value. This investment appears to be a no brainer, but it is not without risk. Since opening, Block E has lost most of the anchor businesses that originally signed leases in the space including: Borders Books, Game Works, The Hard Rock Cafe, Applebees, and Hooters. The space which Game Works and Borders occupied is still vacant, presenting Alatus and Bob Lux, the lead developer on the project, with significant challenges in their attempt to turn the site into a successful retail operation. That said, the final price tag for the site was too attractive to pass on.

One significant factor that helped persuade Mr. Lux to move forward with the deal is the 550 heated underground parking spaces beneath Block E, at $25,455 per spot is inline with other parking structures around the city. Looking at the deal from this perspective, Alatus paid market rate for the parking, and got a deal sweetener that is quite impressive, approximately 213,000 sq/ft of retail space. Pricing it the other way, at $66 sq/ft, the retail space was purchased at a price that is almost inconceivable given Block E’s location at the heart of the downtown district and within walking distance of Target Field, The Target Center, and many of Minneapolis’s theaters and restaurants. Despite the obvious advantages in location, the previous owners at Block E have had serious difficulty maintaining profitable levels of business. Trying to figure out what to do with this space will certainly keep Mr. Lux up at night, until a solution that provides long term tenants can be derived. Continue Reading

Development, Industry News, Property Management, Real Estate Trends, Retail Real Estate, Uncategorized

Real Estate Executive Insights: An Insider’s View of Commercial RE Investing

speaker_AndyDeckas “Never waste a crisis, they all have opportunity.”

 

It is a common occurrence during difficult times, and there is something very human about perceiving the current situation and lamenting that it is the worst or most extreme crisis in history. Although most of the time this can be chalked up to theatrics or over reaction after hearing Mr. Andy Deckas, President of Founders Properties,

Moody's CPPI -- Pre and Post Bubble

Moody's CPPI -- Pre and Post Bubble

speak about what happened in commercial real estate (CRE) over the past seven years, one can only hope that he is correct in his analysis that, at least for CRE, the market is moving forward and recovering from the difficulties of the last few years. Mr. Deckas gave a superb analysis of the root causes of CRE bubble, using a combination of personal narrative and hard data to support his claim, while being very specific in the way he defined the crisis in the context of the greater economy, and the world in general. His labeling of the fluctuations in CRE market, as the worst in history, based on the criteria of loss of equity, disruption of the industry, and systemic implications on the greater economy quantifies his claim, and despite the pitfalls of making such sweeping assertions, seems to be reasonable. Despite Mr. Deckas’s sober analysis of the recent state of the CRE market, his presentation had a positive tone that included optimism about current opportunities, as well as providing a recap of his fascinating career in the industry.

Resume | Mr. Deckas’s credentials as a commercial investor date back to beginning of the industry, when financial professionals were just realizing the value of securitizing CRE. Mr. Deckas earned his BA from Northwestern University, and planned on continuing his education by earning an MBA until he received an offer that he could not refuse. A personal connection encouraged Mr. Deckas to contact Tom Crawley, who was an executive at Heitman Financial. Mr. Crawley’s pitch was simple, come work for me, and in two years I promise you will learn more than you ever could about CRE in academia. Mr. Deckas agreed, and part of his initial responsibilities included working on raising the capital needed to construct the Mall of America. After nine years moving up through the ranks at Heitman, Mr. Deckas left the firm and moved to OPUS, which at the time  was one of the nations largest real estate developers. His first role at OPUS was creating and growing OPUS financing operation. At OPUS, Mr. Deckas moved the focus of there customer targeting from institutional investors, which were flush with capital but also with a highly bureaucratic structure that impeded flexibility, to high net worth, private equity. It was here that Mr. Deckas found an untapped niche of the market, linking investors eager to increase returns, with securities that offered high upside, with (at the time) minimal risk. Mr. Deckas’s final move brought him to Founders Properties, were he serves as the President of Operations.

The resume that Mr. Deckas possesses, especially the quick ascension to the c-suite in every firm he worked for, provides credibility for his opinions and the analysis of the situation on a macro level. Raising capital for funds in the $100M-$200M dollar range places Mr. Deckas in a unique echelon of individuals who were present in the board rooms and at the job sites of developments that represented the center of the looming decline of the industry

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Development, Industry News, Property Management, Real Estate Trends, Uncategorized

Liberty Property: solid year for local leasing

In last weeks Finance and Commerce, Burl Gilyard reports positive news from Liberty Property’s deal book. A recent purchase in Rogers, MN is the planned future site for as much as 800,000 sq/ft of industrial space, a sign that analysts at the company are expecting economic growth in the near term. Dave Jellison, SVP of the local Liberty Trust in charge of the deal, shares cautious optimism about the commercial market, “I think we’ll see slow growth on the leasing side… I think we’ll see companies growing and start to need space again.”

Hopefully they will secure commitments and begin the development of the property, as the Midwest is still lagging behind the nation in commercial real estate property transactions, across all subindices. The graph below (From CoStar Commercial Repeat-Sale Indices), shows a positive bump nationally in commercial transactions and deals like the Rogers development is good news in a market that is still struggling to recover from the last bubble.

From CoStar Commercial

From CoStar Commercial

read the full article below…

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Industry News, Real Estate Trends

Cash Sales Play Significant Role In Recent Housing Deals

house-for-saleRecent housing data from national and local sources are uncovering an interesting trend in the residential real estate market. In 2010, 28% of homes purchased were paid with cash according to a recent Wall Street Journal article,

“Nationally, 28% of sales were all-cash transactions last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. The rate was 14% in October 2008, when the trade group began tracking the measure. The jump in real-estate purchases made with cash is another sign of the revival of animal spirits in the U.S. economy.”

Read the full article

That trend is mimicked almost perfectly by the Twin Cities market. For the month of January, 27% of homes were bought with cash. Although banks, sellers, and agents are pleased with any boost in this soft market, these purchases are creating a public policy problem according to some. Continue Reading