By Sarah Binder
CORRIDOR–If the historic floods of 2008 were a tempest of legendary proportions, the mythic metaphors continue as the Corridor talks about rebuilding.
“I like to think of us as a phoenix rising,” said Monica Vernon, mayor pro tem of the city of Cedar Rapids. “The question is, where are we at this point?”
Ms. Vernon was joined by Jeremy Tipton, commercial sales associate at NAI Iowa Realty Commercial, and Andrew Warren, managing director of research for Principal Real Estate Investors, at the Corridor Business Journal’s annual Commercial Real Estate Luncheon on Sept. 21. More than 200 community members attended.
Ms. Vernon, who is also the council’s community development committee chair, spoke on progress in the city of Cedar Rapids. Mr. Tipton gave an overview of the regional market, and Mr. Warren gave a broader view of trends in Commercial Real Estate in his keynote presentation.
“It could be a very exciting time in real estate a year, two years from now,” Mr. Warren said.
Here are the highlights:
- Downturns in the single-family housing market have made multifamily a star performer in recent years. However, as rents continue to increase, in some markets it’s getting cheaper to buy.
- “We’re actually seeing new spaces being developed and put on the market, and people are willing to pay more for it,” he said of the industrial market. He said since prices deflated during the recession, some companies are able to get a newer space for what they were paying pre-recession. He anticipates industrial space will continue to move away from the most urban areas in a city.
- Overall, the first half of 2012 has seen increases in the real estate market. However, he said, that will probably dwindle in the last half of the year due to uncertainty surrounding the election. He said a similar situation happened in 2011: the first half of the year was positive, but the European debt crisis cooled the market in the second half.
- The city has created a Development Services Department. “Let’s be dreamers, and let’s drive development,” Ms. Vernon said.
- The state has approved some reconstruction in historic districts. “We want to make sure we maintain some of those buildings, but we add new ones in and have a vibrant area.”
- Cedar Rapids’ new medical district, including the Hall-Perrine Cancer Center and the new Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa complex, will draw regional and national attention.
- Industrial spaces are seeing a trend of more flexible use. For example, Kirkwood Community College recently bought a new facility for their trucking programs and continuing education.
- He anticipates changes at the Town and Country strip mall in Cedar Rapids by 2015, when the anchor merchants leases expire, but he hinted new businesses might move in before the end of the year.