Wednesday, February 3, 2010

An Urban Trend or Legend?

A new trend could be emerging across our nation’s urban areas. With commercial real estate prices down and many locations vacant, the opportunity has arrived for well positioned investors to grab prime space in urban markets. Though many postulate commercial real estate has not yet bottomed out (Moody’s recently forecast another year of declining prices), there may simply be offers that can’t be refused in today’s cities.

This possible trend is highlighted in a recent story by Retailing Today, concerning J.C. Penny’s move into Manhattan. For most of its history, J.C. Penny purposely avoided Manhattan because of the number of competitors and their store space needs. However, recent times have seriously cut down the level of competition, while also providing new vacant space to occupy. The result was a two-level, 153,000 square foot store, which opened on July 31st. In its first month, the new store surpassed sales expectations by “double digits”. The location, which sits above a subway station and commuter rail line terminus, relays 250,000 people past the stores gates each day.

Another development has been the rising popularity of retail condominiums. As highlighted by RE Business Online, many individual investors favor this real estate type because it often allows them to own space in prime locations they couldn’t previously afford. They are also a popular choice among many 1031 investors who are seeking suitable replacement property. Furthermore, the economic downturn has caused a glut of vacant properties to fill the market; meaning retailers who are looking to buy or lease great negotiating leverage have a wider array of property to choose from. Retail condominiums are not only located in prime space but can often be bought by investors seeking to acquire real estate for their own use. These advantages make retail condominiums very popular today.

Net Lease properties are experiencing similar effects concerning urban locations. Properties located in these areas are experiencing increased demand as they have remained successful despite the recession. This coincides with the changing tastes of many investors from high risk/reward properties to ones with more stability. Taking into account the slump in property values, not only investors but retailers alike are jumping for the chance to own real estate in high density urban areas they previously would not have thought possible.

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