By Ira Krumholz
President, NAI Daus Property Management Division
Momentum was certainly a key word last year. At the top of the list was the great positive momentum associated with Cleveland’s multifamily sector. Much of this was associated with Cleveland’s central business district, which grabbed most of the headlines. During 2015, nearly 500 new units were completed in the downtown area, but despite this additional inventory, occupancy rates continued to hover near 100 percent. There are approximately 275 units under construction with another 4,000 in various stages of planning. While new apartment construction outside of downtown has been limited, occupancy rates are also strong across the region averaging in the mid-90 percentile for most areas.
The industrial sector also had a strong year, as illustrated not only by high occupancy rates and increasing rents, but also with nearly 1 million square feet of speculative construction underway. Examples include new warehouse facilities in Euclid, Twinsburg and Stow – all of which were started without substantial leasing commitments in place.
The retail sector has also recovered nicely with several new retail developments underway. These include projects such as Pinecrest in Orange, Costco and Bass Pro Shops in Boston Heights and Cabela’s, Menards and Meijer in Avon.
The fourth primary commercial sector, the office sector, is the only one that has been a mixed bag. On the positive side, the overall level of leasing activity has picked up and certain traditional office corridors are performing well. However, there is still a substantial amount of vacant office space in the market and overall job growth in the office sector has been sluggish.
Looking ahead, a key word for 2016 is – cautiously optimistic. The commercial real estate market is approximately 24 months into this current expansion. Considering the depth and breadth of the most recent historic downturn, it is reasonable to think that the expansion will continue for at least another 12 to 24 months. This isn’t to say that sale prices and lease rates will increase at the same pace that has been illustrated over the last few years. In general, the velocity for both leasing and sales activity should remain solid throughout 2016.
Each commercial real estate sector is at a different place and each faces some risks. The multifamily sector is clearly the furthest along in terms of recovery and, as such, poses some potentially significant challenges. One of the largest is the threat of over-building, especially in the downtown area. While the demand has outpaced the supply, the projects that are in the development pipeline are more complex and thus, more expensive. There is a clear danger, not only that supply will start to exceed demand, but also that the rental rate needed to support these newest projects will be higher than the market can support. Click here to download the entire article.