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VOL. 126 | NO. 23 | Thursday, February 3, 2011

Inaugural Seminar to Focus on CRE Issues

By Sarah Baker

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Despite commercial real estate’s doldrums, local brokers are seeing signs of resurgence.

Commercial real estate investments – such as malls, office buildings and industrial properties – reached $316 billion nationwide in 2010, according to Thomas Reuters. That represented a 50 percent jump from an eight-year low in 2009 of $209 billion.

But with companies consolidating and maximizing their space, there are more properties on the market.

Real estate professionals will take a look at pressing issues like these when The Daily News hosts its Commercial Real Estate seminar Feb. 17.

The seminar – sponsored by Financial Federal and Glankler Brown PLLC – will be held at 3:30 p.m. at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Auditorium, 1934 Poplar Ave.

Panelists and their topics are Scott Barton, CB Richard Ellis Memphis (retail); Larry Jensen, Commercial Advisors LLC (office); Brad Kornegay, Colliers International (industrial); and Pierce Ledbetter, LEDIC Management LLC (multifamily).

In tough times, strong submarkets will not just survive, they will thrive, Barton said. But while retail development will improve from 2010, it’s likely that vacancy won’t peak until 2012.

“In general, it’s getting better; not everywhere, but I do think its getting better,” he said. “We have reached the bottom and we’re on our way back out but it’s still not easy to get a deal done in the retail world – it takes longer than it used to and its challenging, but that’s better than it was six or nine months ago.”

The Daily News’ Commercial Real Estate Seminar

Thursday, Feb. 17 at 3:30 p.m.
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Auditorium, 1934 Poplar Ave.
$25 to register at www.memphisdailynews.com/seminar

The U.S. ended 2010 with a bang, as consumer spending rose 3.5 percent – the best performance since a 5.2 percent rise in 2007, before the recession began.

In December alone, consumer spending rose 0.7 percent – the sixth straight monthly increase, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported recently. And with consumer spending comprising 70 percent of gross domestic product, the retail industry is looking up.

Barton also plans to discuss some of the big issues that are on the minds of those vested in the local landscape, such as Bass Pro’s plans for The Pyramid and the city’s redevelopment of the Mid-South Fairgrounds.

On the office side, the last couple of years have been plagued with downsizing, right-sizing and tenants trying to improve their overall environment, Jensen said. While rates are depressed from the highs in 2008 before the bubble burst – 15 to 20 percent in some cases – activity is picking up.

He noted the impact of several buildings over the past year with significant sales prices, including Smith & Nephew Inc.’s $14 million acquisition of the former Harrah’s headquarters on Goodlett Farms Road and In-Rel Properties Inc.’s $5 million purchase of the former Comcast Building at Kirby and Quince roads.

“If you look at it in terms of replacement costs, that’s pretty amazing,” Jensen said.

While the market can’t support any new construction, Jensen considers it fairly healthy.

“There are a large number of blocks of 20,000 square feet and above that we’ve been tracking pretty carefully,” Jensen said. “There’s some activity around them – that’s the good news. It’s a mixed bag of mostly just people looking hard at what their office facilities look like and trying to make sure that they’re getting maximum utilization out of them.”

The CRE seminar is the first of six informational seminars hosted by The Daily News in hopes of giving commercial brokers insight into the latest trends and transactions.

“Memphis commercial real estate is dynamic and constantly changing, so it is important for professionals to stay abreast of the market,” said James Overstreet, associate publisher and executive editor of The Daily News and The Memphis News. “We’re excited about hosting a seminar featuring local executives who can discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the industry in 2011.”

Other slated topics of discussion and dates are the economy (April 28), health care reform (July 14), social media (Sept. 15), green business (Oct. 6), and business of health care (Nov. 10).

The program will begin at 3:30 p.m. and will last about 90 minutes, with a cocktail reception to follow. The cost is $25. While seating is currently available, those interested are encouraged to register as soon as possible.

To register, visit www.memphisdailynews.com/seminar. Inquiries can be directed to The Daily News’ marketing manager Donna Waggener, at 528-8122 or dwaggener@memphisdailynews.com.

“Because the commercial real estate industry is such an important cornerstone of Memphis business, we are very excited to have such well-respected leaders of the commercial real estate industry as our speakers,” Waggener said. “We have seen an overwhelming response from the business community.”

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