Downtown Cleveland’s Key Center Sells For $268M: What’s The Market Like?

Key Tower in downtown Cleveland, Ohio
Key Tower in downtown Cleveland, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The cornerstone of Cleveland’s skyline has sold this week for $268M to a local owner.  What does it mean for the local office market?

The Key Center, a 1.3M SF office tower sporting 57 stories and Class A status has been sold by national office REIT Columbia Property Trust to a Cleveland-based multifamily property and development firm. Built in 1991, the Key Center anchors a deal that includes a nearly 1,000-space parking garage as well as a ten-story bank building.

The anchor tenant in the tower is a regional banking power. KeyCorp, a holding company that owns the 18th largest bank in the US, lends a significant chunk to the tower’s 95% occupancy at sale time. The new owner, Ohio’s Millennia Companies – a group of real estate operations and development firms – intends to move operations into the tower, further bolstering the Cleveland CBD strong net absorption numbers, reported in Xceligent’s 4Q2016  Cleveland Market Report as the city’s leading absorption submarket with over 75KSF absorbed.

A Peek Around The Neighborhood

The deal takes place against Cleveland’s backdrop of declining office vacancy and modest levels of new construction. From Xceligent’s most recent Market Report:

  • During the 4Q 2016 the Cleveland office market has absorbed 104,105 square feet (sf) of space.
  • At 12.0% the regional vacancy rate has continued to decline, showing improvements from the 4Q 2015 at 13.1%.
  • The Cleveland CBD submarket observed the greatest positive net absorption totaling 75,222 sf during the 4Q 2016.
  • The Cleveland Office development pipeline had 67,000 sf under construction during the fourth quarter

Cleveland, In Fact, Rocks

If nothing else, the Key Center deal is a strong show of local commercial confidence in the face of a city’s commercial history that has suffered from capital flight, at times resulting in “rust belt” perception. It’s the duty of CRE professionals to look past such cliches, however. Industry players who might shadow the principals in this deal — such as financial support services or real estate service companies who have or seek profiles in the Midwest — can indulge their interest in low-barrier office markets such as Cleveland’s with a quick and easy look at Cleveland CBD’s comparable and nearby office properties.  To view a live query at CommercialSearch of office properties listed for lease or sale in the shadow of the Key Center,  click here.

Get Xceligent’s 4Q Cleveland Office Market Report

To get your own copy of Xceligent’s latest (4Q2016) Market Report on the Cleveland Office Market, click here to drop us a note today.

Amazon’s New Air Hub: A Look At Cincinnati’s Industrial Market

Amazon’s latest step in its apparent plan to take over its own supply chain is an announced $1.5B cargo hub outside of Cincinnati. The hub, slated to be placed in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG) is expected to enable the company to fly its Amazon Prime cargo jet fleet into and out of a healthy property market blessed with what Amazon’s SVP of Worldwide Operations Dave Clark called “a large, skilled workforce, centralized location with great connectivity to our nearby fulfillment locations and an excellent quality of living for employees.”

Construction of the facility is sure to have some follow-on effects as vendors and customers consider the Airport submarket’s nearly 31 million sf of inventory.  A recent arrival of new space allows plenty of options, boosting total vacant space to 1.4 million. Here’s a quick look at Queen City’s market as published this week in Xceligent’s 4Q2016 Cincinnati Industrial Market Report:

  • During 4Q 2016 the industrial market has absorbed just over 538,504 square feet (sf), with a year to date absorption of just over 5.2M sf.
  • As a result of just over 4.6 million sf of newly delivered space, industrial vacancy has risen from 3.7% in 2Q 2016 to 4.3%.
  • The Tri-County submarket has posted the highest positive net absorption for two consecutive quarters, closing 4Q 2016 with just over 676,000 sf. This positive movement was offset by the Airport submarket which posted a negative net total of 750,000 sf.
  • The weighted average asking rent has increased year over year from $3.56 per square foot (psf) to $3.96 psf. This increase can be attributed to an increased demand with limited warehouse availability.

Industrial Property Search: CVG Airport Cincinnati

Click here to take a look at live property data centered on CVG Airport/Covington at CommercialSearch.com.

Taking To The Skies

The location choice of CVG Airport by Amazon has the company striking while the iron is hot; the airport itself has been the beneficiary of ready warehouse inventory nearby. Its growth in freight handling has been in the double digits year-over-year for the last five years. If the extra freight loads Amazon represents seems a good fit for an airport with a record of expanding capacity in a sustained push, that may be part of the company’s interest in taking to the air: their designs for floating warehouses and plans for drone delivery are far more likely to arrive than it might at first seem. If there’s one thing Amazon does, it’s deliver.

If Trump Targets Dodd-Frank, What Are the Commercial Real Estate Impacts?

While we find ourselves in the early, frenetic days of the Trump administration, it’s far from clear exactly what to expect from a White House that has single-mindedly pursued its own private list of policies without much concern for fallout or for some campaign promises. In what appears to be a intentional pattern of confusion, some of the President’s campaign promises have been confusingly dropped by the Oval Office, only to picked back up within hours. The very latest example of this pattern over the past 24 hours being his pledge to negotiate with the pharma industry to achieve lower drug prices.  This was a promise apparently dropped only to be picked back up hours later the same day.

So when the President announced yesterday that he intended to “do a big number” on the Wall Street reform package called Dodd-Frank, we got a warning something might (or might not) happen to key regulations on risk retention that deeply affect the commercial real estate industry.

Regulation, Risk and Reminders

President Trump severely criticized the Dodd-Frank law yesterday, calling it a “disaster” and promising to “do a big number” on the law soon. If the President does actually follow through with gutting Dodd-Frank, what could change for commercial real estate?  Whatever changes that stick will affect at least one of these areas:

  • The Credit Risk Retention Rule – Forces issuers of bonds comprised of performing commercial real estate properties to hold a percentage of the offering.  Affects CMBS marketplace significantly, as written about here.
  • Credit Rating Agency Reform – Rules that prevent the complicity of risk ratings agencies (Moody’s, Fitch, S&P) in mislabeling bond offerings to obscure systemic risk.  Affects CMBS and REIT share markets as well as the wider debt market transparency.
  • Legislative proposals to wind down the Government Sponsored Entities such as Freddie Mac that originate a great deal of capital for apartment building projects
  • The Volker Rule – Prevents banks from engaging in trading in certain kinds of investments. Affects: proprietary trading, disallows banks from owning or investing in hedge funds or private equity funds. If struck down, may increase availability of capital from banks to exotic or alternative financing vehicles serving the CRE industry.

Unclear (Still)

Guessing at impact is tough, because Dodd-Frank rules are a moving target — rules are still being designed and implemented with a time schedule that reaches into 2019 and beyond.  While the President signed an executive order this week compelling the elimination of two regulations for every one invoked, a move that tends to support speculation that the President sees regulations as intrinsically bad things, nobody should claim to know exactly what’s on the Donald’s mind before a) he announces it himself  and b) we wait a little bit for the dust to settle.

New FASB Standards Likely To Shorten Lease Terms

For some entities’ fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018, we can expect to see the appearance of new property lease standards as enforced by the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Commercial real estate industry lease agreements will be subject to a new accounting standard intended to force the recognition of leases that run longer than twelve months as assets or liabilities on the books.

That’s not to say the new standards exempt leases that run shorter than one year — lessees may choose to not record an asset or liability for a lease a) whose term runs less than twelve months and b) that includes no purchase option that the lessee is reasonably likely to activate.

Minimizing the impact

The landlord side of the negotiation table is likely to be faced with pressure to reduce the lease term so as to retain the flexibility afforded by lease accounting under the old standards.  Prior to the new standards, leases were not commonly characterized as assets or liabilities and as such could be arranged relative to an owner’s bottom line with much more latitude than is offered today.

A major segment of the property leasing world impacted by the standards is tenants at the crossroads considering wether to rent or buy.  As Howard Barash of CohnReznick writes in National Real Estate Investor:

Preparing for, and complying with, the new leasing standard is not all bad news. In fact, smart businesses should treat the implementation of the new standard as an opportunity to re-evaluate, and then optimize, their leasing strategies. Companies should closely examine their current leasing contracts. They should also revisit their lease vs. buy decision criteria in light of the standard to determine which option makes the most sense for their business.

The implementation deadline for the new FASB lease standard is approaching and will be here before we know it. It will impact most businesses well beyond an accounting exercise. As such, now is the time for your business to examine its leasing process and gain input from your key business leaders.

 

President Trump’s 60-Year Lease With Uncle Sam

The inauguration of President Donald Trump, titan of commercial real estate, marked the start of a great number of legal fights concerning his numerous undivested CRE holdings.  One set of concerns raised by the political opposition centers on what it means legally for the sitting President to be doing business with foreign governments, something that appears to be happening routinely within the context of his ownership of Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, just blocks from the White House.  The broad argument from political opponents goes: with each hotel bill paid by a foreign government staying at the luxury hotel comes a potential conflict of interest as long as the President continues to own that hotel.

Any guest-related potential conflicts aside, the development details of the hotel itself may hold unprecedented potential conflicts. The hotel property was redeveloped inside a former Post Office owned by the US Government — more specifically, the General Services Administration, an independent federal agency established in 1949 that contributes to the management of around half a trillion dollars of US federal property including over 8,300 owned and leased buildings.

GSA is the owner of the Trump International building. The lease has a reported 60-year term with two 20-year options.  The lease has clauses that are drawing attention from industry and governmental players in a way that promises much fighting in the future.

Breach? No Way To Know Yet

The legal confusion is not made clearer by the political forces interested in it.  Efforts by Congressional Democrats to undermine the administration have called certain lease clauses into question: As USA Today reports:

The [hotel] lease reads: “No member or delegate to Congress, or elected official of the Government of the United States or the Government of the District of Columbia, shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom; provided, however, that this provision shall not be construed as extending to any Person who may be a shareholder or other beneficial owner of any publicly held corporation or other entity, if this Lease is for the general benefit of such corporation or other entity.”

Thus far, the landlord does not see a breach —  GSA has not been moved to act on the strength of these inquiries, stating:

“GSA does not have a position that the lease provision requires the President-elect to divest of his financial interests. We can make no definitive statement at this time about what would constitute a breach of the agreement, and to do so now would be premature. In fact, no determination regarding the Old Post Office can be completed until the full circumstances surrounding the President-elect’s business arrangements have been finalized and he has assumed office,” the statement reads. “GSA is committed to responsibly administering all of the leases to which it is a party.”

For a in-depth look at the lease, read Steven Schooner and Daniel Gordon’s legal analysis piece at Atlantic “Has Trump’s Election Breached His D.C. Hotel Lease?”

The potentials for conflict are certainly there – without them, GSA might not respond – and the wrangling over the outcome will no doubt continue for much, much longer.

Add this to the giant pile of unprecedented commercial real estate issues raised by the inauguration of Donald Trump.

Ten Medical Property Deals This Year

The medical property sector continues to heat up nationally thanks to the greying of the population and the decentralizing trends in outpatient care. Medical office building (MOB) and retail retrofit deals are coming out of the pipeline in strength for the time being as Congress once again aims to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Only the future will tell if ACA’s repeal and replacement with “insurance for everybody” as promised by the incoming Trump administration will put a damper, a rocket booster, or something in between on the commercial property deals in the medical sector.  For now, let’s look at a national snapshot made up of ten medical sector deal items in a young 2017:

Sessions Points To Congress On Legal Marijuana

During his confirmation hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill, prospective US Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent an ambiguous message to the real estate developers, property owners and lenders working to expand legal marijuana business in states that allow it. Pressed by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on the topic of enforcement of federal law prohibiting marijuana in those states, Sessions responded with a bit of safe boilerplate before pointing to Congress:

“Using good judgment on how to handle these cases will be a responsibility of mine. I know it won’t be an easy decision but I will try to do my duty in a fair and just way.” 

He added: “One obvious concern is the United States Congress has made the possession in every state and distribution an illegal act. If that’s something that’s not desired any longer Congress should pass a law to change the rule. It is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.”

Banks, developers, investors looking for guidance on legal marijuana

The commercial real estate implications of Sessions’ dodge are significant. A growing legal marijuana industry and the real estate professionals that serve it await clear leadership on the issue as sales figures are jumping by double digits in year-over-year measures. The hunt has been on for property and legal stability for dispensary developers in a growing number of states that have adopted legalization measures, from the 28 states that have legalized medical marijuana to the eleven now legalizing recreational use. Traditional capital sources such as banks have been shy to lend and serve the industry under conditions that leave open the possibility of federal action closing the enterprises due to cannabis remaining illegal at the federal level.

As the business of legal marijuana waits for clarity from Washington, it appears the wait will go on.

States that have legalized weed

As of November 2016’s election, these seven states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use:

Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Washington D.C.

And these states have some form of legalized medical marijuana:

Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Deleware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Missisippi, Missouri, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Build Better L.A.: Los Angeles Votes In New Requirements For Developers, Affordable Housing

Los Angeles is the second largest city in the ...

A significant initiative with commercial real estate effects was passed on last week’s ballot in Los Angeles. Expected to take effect this month, the measure changes, almost overnight, the labor and affordable housing requirements for developers building in the city, affecting multifamily projects with ten or more units, as well as other projects.

Measure JJJ, also known as the Build Better L.A. initiative, was sent to the voters in the general election of Nov. 8.  In Los Angeles City, JJJ passed with 64% of the vote at over 461,000 votes and according to JDSupra law blog, takes effect within ten days of the certification of vote results, or, on November 19, 2016.

Affecting projects that ask for a zoning exemption, a plan amendment, a height change or a authorization of residential use of land where previously not permitted, JJJ requires developers of projects with ten residential units or above to provide a percentage of affordable housing units on-site. Depending on the exemption sought, the percentage will fall between 5% and 40% affordable units.

Some alternatives to compliance are available.  Per JDSupra:

[T]he Initiative offers alternatives to compliance, including providing affordable housing units off-site, acquisition of “at-risk” affordable housing properties and converting the units into non-profit or other similar type of housing, or payment of an in‑lieu fee into the City’s new Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The in-lieu fee will be determined by a formula using an “Affordability Gap” multiplier as defined in the Initiative.  Additionally, projects that opt to provide off-site housing will be required to provide additional affordable units based on a formula that increases the number of required units based on the distance from the primary project.

Further, the Initiative requires that residential housing projects seeking discretionary approval be constructed by licensed contractors, with good faith effort to ensure that 30% of whom are permanent Los Angeles residents and at least 10% of whom are “transitional workers”—single parents, veterans, on public assistance, or chronically unemployed—whose primary place of residence is within a 5‑mile radius of the project.  Projects subject to the Initiative will be required to pay “prevailing wage”—an average of area wages based on a formula created by the state government—to all construction workers on the project.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Third Party Logistics (3PL): Video Refresher

The industrial property subcategory 3PL, or third party logistics, is a rapidly expanding market across the US.  Steady growth in e-commerce has created a growing dependency upon these warehousing and logistics properties thanks to their effect of reducing delivery time on goods shipped to customers. With e-commerce sales worldwide set to pass $2 trillion in 2017 in pursuit of double-digit annual growth, knowledge of the 3PL industry will pay off for the commercial real estate professional patrolling this piece of the national supply chain. What follows in this post are two helpful sources of quick information about the 3PL as it lives and breathes today.

 

Video: Dynamic 3PL Logistics

If you’re in need of a rapid refresher on the global supply chain and need a helpful glimpse at the shape and vocabulary of 3PL, check out this short video by 3PL provider Dynamic 3PL Logistics.  To the point, short, yet packed with illuminating info, this clip will get the point across about 3PL — fast.

Fifty Most Successful 3PLs

While far from a comprehensive or updated list, the article “North America’s 50 Most Successful 3PLs” from SupplyChainBrain.com collects an excellent top-down view of North America’s top 50 3PL operators, including some depth on the operations, local and global. Researchers arriving to this market will find a useful bookmark here.

 

New Supermarket Arrival Lidl Promises To Be Big

Retailing industry analyst Kantar Retail this month released an impact study on the US supermarket sector that highlights a new entry from Europe. Lidl, a no-frills grocery chain headquartered in Germany, is in business in 28 countries in Europe, is expected to enter the US market in 2018.

Similar to Aldi, another German supermarket competitor who have long since set up shop in the US, Lidl stores take a low-staff, no-frills approach to supermarket operation, displaying skids of product in aisles, letting customers take product from opened cartons. A lack of specialty areas, preferred by some other supermarket chains, creates store floor plans that are streamlined and configurations that demand less of basic space than does the average US supermarket.

The Predictions

Kantar sees Lidl as opening over 100 stores a year in the US, with a total of 400 up and down the east coast by 2020.  The chain’s operating efficiency is touted, as a single, fully mature store could generate $14 million, or , “a lot of volume packed into a 36KSF box”. Other highlights from Kantar:

  • Lidl could surpass USD2 billion in volume by the end of its second full year of operations
  • By 2023, we believe Lidl could approach USD 9 billion in sales, which is more than what Wegmans does today
  • Expect Lidl to have over 400 stores up and down the East Coast by the start of the next decade

East Coast Rollout Locations To Watch

The chain’s US corporate headquarters is announced as being located in Arlington County, VA. European press has put a location of the first wave of Lidl stores as Virginia Beach.  Its logistics network has already put down roots with two regional distribution centers, one in Alamance County, NC and Arlington County.