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VOL. 126 | NO. 25 | Monday, February 7, 2011

CRE Market’s Transition Fitting Parable for City

The Memphis News

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A city’s commercial real estate market tends to mirror the local economy.

CRE, as the market is often abbreviated, can serve as barometer of sorts for an area’s business climate and also play a critical role in enhancing its economic development efforts.

So seeing a growing number of properties trading hands and a growing number of companies choosing to invest here bodes well for Memphis and Shelby County.

And seeing a handful of longtime real estate firms like Belz Enterprises Inc., Boyle Investment Co. and Loeb Properties Inc. shift gears in response to the changing marketplace – as outlined in this week’s edition of The Memphis News – is another good sign for our collective economic fortunes.

As companies buy properties and lease space, it creates a buzz about our market, it creates an undeniable and powerful economic ripple – and it creates jobs.

These recent high-profile moves, from Boyle’s acquisition efforts to Loeb’s joint venture to Belz’s portfolio shedding, indicate a willingness to evolve while also keeping the local market vibrant and viable. Although these firms are without a doubt considered the “old guard” of Memphis real estate and renowned for their history and longevity, they are proving yet again they can change with the times and not only survive, but thrive.

Lasting as long as they have through the generations and through myriad market ups and downs, most notably this latest recession, these companies are displaying a resolve that should be a model for both private and public entities.

It’s an important example for Memphis to follow as it tries to adapt to the changing economic landscape. That’s because companies looking to relocate to or expand in Memphis always consider the availability and price of the land in question, not to mention the other positives a market has going for it.

Already the city has performed its own share of gear shifting lately, throwing out the playbook of the past to lure companies like Electrolux to town.

Now the city is reportedly courting such businesses as Montreal-based paper products Kruger Inc. and Japanese technology/manufacturing giant Mitsubishi. Local officials are putting on their best CRE broker’s hats by touting the city’s assets and promoting such sites as Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park, where Electrolux will build a plant and where other suppliers may wind up to be near their customer.

To find success again, city officials could mimic the efforts of some Memphis firms, like the one that sold Montreal-based Olymbec the 1.1 million-square-foot Space Center in Whitehaven for $7.3 million, just one recent example of this market’s attractiveness to outside capital.

With similar efforts, Memphis could enjoy the same lasting success as the realty companies that call the city home.

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