Smart Real Estate Investing in 2018

10 months ago 0 0 505

It’s a new year, and we’re moving full steam ahead. It’s a great time to check in with current real estate trends and events shaping this year’s market and then decide how you will respond to them to meet your 2018 investment objectives. Current Real Estate Market Trends Money Chasing Deals: It will come as no surprise that demand for real estate still far exceeds supply. This results in peak prices, which equals lower yields, and makes it increasingly more difficult to “win” deals. Risk/Potential: With the market peaking, there is more downside risk and less upside potential. Hesitation: Current owners are hesitant to sell because opportunities to reinvest their money at acceptable returns just do not exist. Low Prices: Prices per square foot on existing properties seem low compared to replacement costs. Core Investment: Institutional investors now consider real estate a core investment, thus eliminating the need for a

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Amazon HQ2 and The Gulch: A Symbiotic Relationship?

1 year ago 2 1 681

Atlanta was originally called Terminus because the rail lines converged here. Eventually, the interaction of trains and cars became problematic, and streets were built over the railroad tracks. Existing shops were abandoned, and new shops were built on the new streets. Then, the Omni, Phillips Arena and the Georgia Dome were built, creating a big, empty space that you can look into. That area is The Gulch, a 120-acre site, currently made up of parking lots and rail lines. The Gulch: Past and Future Visions  For years, the vision was to turn The Gulch into a multi-modal station and then build mixed-use around the station, but that plan has never come to fruition, mostly because of the number of entities that would have to be involved—county, city, state and federal agencies; MARTA; and Norfolk Southern to name a few. However, according to a recent Atlanta Business Chronicle article, “The Gulch…is

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Intentional Development Around Stadiums: Can It Work?

1 year ago 0 0 452

In my last blog “The Not-So-Obvious Connection Between Stadiums and Community”, I admitted my skepticism related to the community-building aspect of erecting new stadiums while acknowledging my hope for the success of such projects, like the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But there’s an exception. And that’s the new Georgia State Football Stadium. Once Turner Field. Once the Olympic Stadium. (In fact, did you know this is one of the longest sustainable stadiums in the history of the Olympics?) What’s Different? Why do I think this example is different? It’s all in the approach. And I see private co-developers Georgia State University (GSU) and Atlanta-based Carter & Associates creating Summerhill, a development around the stadium, in an intentional and realistic way. In other words, this is not a “build it and they will come” project. GSU and Carter appear to be assessing what the community needs and then building it. To me, this

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Old Malls, New Opportunities?

1 year ago 0 0 620

Lately, it seems that one retailer after another is announcing massive store closings or potential bankruptcy. It’s no secret that Macy’s is closing stores, Sears is contemplating bankruptcy and JCPenney’s is struggling. But what happens when a mall anchor closes or the mall itself dies? It affects everyone. Dying malls, especially in small towns where they are the central economic hub, impact the community that live and shop at the mall; the employees that work at the mall; the small tenants that rely on the larger anchors’ foot traffic; the properties surrounding the mall; the investors and developers that own the mall; and the lenders that hold loans on the mall. A dying mall can absolutely create an economic hole in the center of a small town or suburb that once relied on its vibrancy for tax income and as a social gathering place. Last year, in my blog “How

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The Atlanta Beltline: Will the Westside Trail Match the Eastside Trail’s Success?

1 year ago 0 1 925

In a recent blog, I introduced the current sensation that is the Atlanta Beltline. The official website defines the beltline as “a sustainable redevelopment project that is transforming the city… [and will] ultimately connect 45 intown neighborhoods via a 22-mile loop of multi-use trails, modern streetcar, and parks – all based on railroad corridors that formerly encircled Atlanta.” The completed Eastside Trail has already enjoyed tremendous success as most visionaries and developers expected it would. Now, the Westside Trail is being developed, which is indeed exciting, but has led some developers and investors to question whether it will garner the same success and reception as its Eastside counterpart. Let’s take a look at both projects. Eastside Trail  Since its inception, $860 million has been invested within a half-mile of the Eastside Trail, which is a two-mile segment that connects Midtown and Old Fourth Ward neighborhoods. The Eastside Trail has gained

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How Can We Solve the Absence of Affordable Housing in Atlanta?

2 years ago 0 1 1035

Equity and affordability. The lack of these two imperatives is what initiated the departure of Atlanta Beltline Partnership board members Ryan Gravel and Nathaniel Smith in late September. Ryan, the urban planner who proposed the Atlanta BeltLine in his Georgia Tech Master’s Thesis, and Nathaniel, founder of the Partnership for Southern Equity, left the board with concern that too little was being done to promote affordable housing off the popular beltline, a 22-mile corridor circling central Atlanta. An Atlanta Business Journal article states, “Gravel said the vision for the BeltLine has been one of inclusivity – making sure its success does not prevent people of all income levels from being able to live on all parts of the 22-mile corridor.” Even the corridor’s tagline, “Where Atlanta Comes Together,” suggests this underlying vision. But affordable housing is an issue across Atlanta, not just on the BeltLine. To anyone has driven around

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Atlanta’s Achilles Heel: Traffic Congestion

2 years ago 0 0 1044

Like the mythical Greek God Achilles, Atlanta is strong and vibrant, but has one vulnerability that could stall its growth or dramatically change development patterns and quality of life. And that is traffic congestion. If you live in or visit Atlanta, you know this is true. A 2016 Atlanta Business Chronicle article claims Atlanta was ranked no. 9 on a new Top 10 list of 100 US cities with the worst traffic, and that statistic is not surprising. The article also touts that Atlanta drivers “wasted an average of 59 hours in gridlock in 2015”. That’s a whole week’s vacation sitting in traffic! Some of the Problems: A street network designed for low density Proliferation of high-density, mixed-use real estate developments Good, but limited public transportation Connectivity Atlanta’s street network was just not designed for high-density development. It has one primary north-south boulevard, Peachtree Street, and poor east-west connectivity. Contrast

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The Different Faces of New Urbanism

2 years ago 0 0 1010

The Different Faces of New Urbanism If you read the newspaper or business journals, you would assume everyone wants to live in the heart of a big city, in a small apartment in a mixed-use development, located near a transit station and high-rise office building—you get the picture. While the desire for interaction and less car time are the driving forces behind this trend, it fails to address the desire of many for space, affordability and convenience to good dining, entertainment and employment—all attributes of the suburbs. Can these seemingly contradictory trends be satisfied? As discussed in my post “Atlanta’s Edge Cities Develop City Centers,” the answer is yes. Let’s explore some more. City = Cluster of Small Cities? When referring to a city like Atlanta, we can no longer look at it as one homogeneous political entity. Instead, Atlanta is a cluster of smaller cities and unincorporated neighborhoods with distinct

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How Investors + Developers Pivot to Accommodate Shifting Retail Trends

2 years ago 0 0 1314

It’s a simple truth: The retail market and business changes more than any other property type. In “How Retail is Shifting: A Focus on Malls,” I delved into the changes happening to retail malls. Continuing that idea, let’s take a look at other trends impacting retail real estate and consider how developers and investors are pivoting to take advantage of these trends. Current Trends Impacting Retail Real Estate Bank + Drug Store consolidation and shift to online services High-Density Residential Development in urban + close-in suburban areas Cultural demand for broader Entertainment Experience + Personal Service Continued popularity of Dining Out + Prepared Foods Growth of unregulated services, such as Uber Growth of Amazon, including its new private-label brand initiative With these trends in mind, the retail industry’s developers, property owners and retailers must adjust their thinking. Here’s a few ways that’s happening: Ways Retail Industry Leaders Pivot Addition of

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How Public-Private Relationships in Real Estate Development Are Growing

2 years ago 0 0 1242

My previous blog post considered why public-private relationships in real estate development are being more widely utilized and are creating more investment opportunities. Let’s continue that discussion… THE WHY Here’s a quick recap of why I think this is happening: Emergence of high density-mixed use product Growing project size Need for public financing (both for community impact developments and supporting infrastructure) While the public sector has become more involved in the actual developments, it also has offered financial incentives to private interest to encourage certain types of developments in certain places. I’ll call these THE WHAT Community improvement districts (CIDs) Tax allocation districts (TADs) Special public interest districts (SPIs) Opportunity Zones Bond financing Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) In Community Improvement Districts (CIDs), jurisdictions allow businesses in established districts to self-tax in order to make internal improvements. Often property owners pay a fee to participate in the district, and district members,

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