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shipping containers

Shipping never stops. But, the Covid-19 pandemic certainly altered how it was done in 2020.

Locally, container revenues at the Port of Jacksonville for October — the most recent number information was available—was 1% below October 2019 figures at $2.86 million. Auto revenues for the same period were $1.35 million, a 2 % decrease. The year was expected to wrap up with volumes continuing to rise but still below the same period in 2019.

“For the first quarter we should be doing better than projected,” Jaxport CEO Eric Green said.

“The state’s ports are catalysts for commerce,” said Florida Ports Council chief executive Doug Wheeler in a November podcast with Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.

Wheeler represents the state’s 15 deep water ports, including the Port of Jacksonville and Port of Fernandina.

“I’m confident that our seaports will play a big role in that recovery,” Wheeler said. “…We’re about $117 billion. Our ports are delivering, pretty much, everything that people, businesses, residents, consumers in our state are using in their everyday lives.”

Wheeler said the diversity within the state’s ports is what allowed many to withstand 2020. Jaxport executives certainly believe that is the case.

“We’re not just all cruise ships,” said Ed Fleming, a longtime maritime executive who has served on the Jacksonville Port Authority since 2014. “We’re bulk cargo. We’re Asian cargo. We’re domestic cargo. We do some military cargo, liquid bulk, dry bulk. So, we don’t have all our eggs in one basket. And, I think, that diversification has shielded us, somewhat, from some of the other ports that are heavy into cruise ships like PortMiami and Port Everglades.”

Fleming said the key heading into 2021 is getting the pandemic under control.

“Covid will still be with us next year, for the most part,” Fleming said. “It will get better and better, gradually, over time. I think 2021 will be better than 2020, but probably not back to normal – in any industry for that matter.”

 

Source: Jax Biz Journal

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Long before the novel coronavirus pandemic sent Americans racing for their smartphones to order groceries, industrial real estate observers were keeping a close eye on the availability of temperature-controlled warehouses.

Covid-19 vaccines that require very specific temperatures — Moderna Inc.’s vaccine requires temperatures of minus-20 degrees Celsius and Pfizer Inc.’s candidate requires storage at minus-70 degrees Celsius — have put cold-storage warehouses in the spotlight in recent weeks.

But the sector has seen little vacancy for years, and industrial real estate experts don’t expect that to change as consumers shift more of their food shopping online, even after the pandemic is in the past.

Historically, the national vacancy rate of cold-storage warehouses has hovered below 10%, according to JLL, and much of that inventory is aging and rapidly approaching functional obsolescence. The average cold-storage warehouse in the U.S. is 42 years old, according to JLL.

“If we have a client who wants to know all the available temperature-controlled storage in the U.S. … on any given day, this isn’t something that takes up 10 pages,” said Tray Anderson, Cushman & Wakefield Inc.’s logistics and industrial lead for the Americas. “It’s more like two or three.”

The lack of available space is a function of economics: Temperature-controlled warehouses cost nearly twice as much to build as their dry-storage counterparts, according to JLL, which forecasts that those construction costs will only rise as demand intensifies. A temperature-controlled warehouse can cost $130 to $180 a square foot, whereas construction costs for a conventional warehouse range from $70to $90 a square foot.

“That pricing makes speculative construction — breaking ground without a signed tenant in place — difficult but not impossible,” said Anderson, who is based in North Carolina.

But the uptick in demand from food companies and retailers — coupled with the variable of a massive vaccine-distribution effort — is enough to embolden some developers to try their hand at speculative construction. Already, 95% of U.S. food goes through a third-party distribution center before it reaches consumers, according to CBRE Group Inc. And as early as May 2019, CBRE predicted that the country needed an additional 75 million to 100 million square feet of cold-storage space to meet demand for direct-to-consumer food orders — and that was before the pandemic threw online ordering of everything from furniture to food into overdrive.

“JLL is tracking more than 20 speculative cold-storage developments,” said Dustin Volz, a managing director on JLL’s capital markets team who specializes in such properties.

Cold-storage properties tend to be specific to individual users, but Anderson said projects could at least begin construction by pouring a floor that can handle a specific temperature.

“Speculative cold storage is still challenging, but a few select developers are figuring it out,” said Volz, who is based in Dallas.

Vaccines for the novel coronavirus aren’t expected to drive much additional supply for cold storage because the goal will be to administer the vaccines quickly. What that might do for short-term demand for space is another matter.

“The growth we’re talking about isn’t really vaccine-related; it’s food,” Anderson said. “Especially at minus-20 degrees … Minus 20 is much more common with pharma and food. You can find space that can do minus 20. You’re not going to find any vacant space at minus 80.”

Volz agreed that food is driving the majority of the demand — and that the pandemic highlighted weaknesses in the U.S. food supply chain, such as its reliance on international vendors and inability to handle sudden upticks in demand.

“The need for excess warehouse space is therefore a result of keeping additional inventory to handle any surges in food demand,” Volz said, “and maintaining a domestic supply chain with the unrestrained geographical access for the population with supplemental food imports to complement the new infrastructure.”

 

Source: SFBJ

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The US commercial real estate market is looking very cheap to foreign investors, who find their currency hedging costs aligning nicely with the direction of interest rates.

Currency hedging costs are driven by interest rate differentials between two currencies. Low US rates translate to lower costs for foreign investors looking to hedge the currency risk of their US investments. Here is why this dynamic is expected to continue.

 “Short-term and medium-term rates drive hedging costs,” Ciccy Yang, director of Global Markets for Hudson Advisors told listeners in CBRE’s weekly podcast. “And on that front, the Fed’s been giving very strong hints that more fiscal stimulus is needed to keep the economic recovery on track.”

If the stimulus is less than what the Fed prefers, Yang thinks it may have a more significant role in spurring the recovery. Its tools include more quantitative easing for an extended period and a further delay on the next Fed hike.

“The Fed currently forecasts that they’re going to be on hold until the end of their forecast horizon at year-end 2023 as per their dot plots,” Yang says. “In other words, they’re already forecasting short term rates will be bound to zero for quite a long time. Now, we already saw significant hedging cost declines from the beginning of this year when US rates fell significantly in the flight to quality and Fed easing on the back of the onset of COVID-19.”

The five-year annual hedging cost for Euro-based investors in the US has fallen 100 basis points this year to 1.2% today, according to Yang. In the same period, it has fallen 50 basis points to 2.6% for South Korean investors.

“There probably isn’t that much more room for these levels to fall further,” Yang says. “But given the likely expectation of accommodative Fed policy, it does feel like the lower currency hedging costs are generally here to stay in the near term.”

So far though, foreign investors are, for the most part, not biting.

In Q3, cross-border investment fell 71% year over year to $3.5 billion, according to Real Capital Analytics. This is still better than the low of $0.5 billion seen in the depths of the Global Financial Crisis.

The drop-off in cross-border investment might be partially the result of the types of properties being sold. Cross-border groups find it easier to purchase larger properties. Sales for assets priced greater than $50 million fell 61% year-over-year in the third quarter, while properties priced $5 million and below fell 39%, according to RCA.

Some foreign CRE investors, however, are stepping up their US  allocations. In the first nine months of the year, Korean investors accounted for 8.6% of all overseas investment in U.S. commercial real estate, up from 3.7% a year earlier, accordingto the Wall Street Journal,  citing Real Capital Analytics numbers.

South Koreans invested $1.56 billion, up from $1.24 billion a year earlier, trailing only Canadian and German investors, the WSJ said. A year ago, South Koreans ranked 10th among foreign investors in U.S. real estate.

 

Source: GlobeSt

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First Industrial Realty Trust continues to bet big on South Florida’s industrial market, this time with a warehouse proposal in Margate.

First Industrial Realty Trust wants to build FirstGate Commerce Center in Margate.
(IMAGE CREDIT: RLC ARCHITECTS)

The city’s Development Review Committee will consider the site plan for FirstGate Commerce Center on Nov. 10. The 9.3-acre property is at the northwest corner of Copans Road and Banks Road.

FR5355 Northwest 24th Street LLC, an affiliate of Chicago-based First Industrial Realty Trust, acquired the vacant site from AutoNation for $8.6 million in late 2019.

The site plan calls for a 131,680-square-foot warehouse with a 32-foot clear height, surrounded by 186 parking spaces.

Chris Willson, senior regional director at First Industrial, couldn’t be reached for comment. The developer is working with RLC Architects and Sun-Tech Engineering on the project.

There’s been strong demand for industrial space during the Covid-19 pandemic as the sectors of e-commerce and trade grow. First Industrial also has a large warehouse project in neighboring Pompano Beach.

 

Source: SFBJ

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Panelists representing the industrial, office, retail and multifamily sectors of commercial real estate made the case for investment in their respective sectors at NAIOP’s CRE.CONVERGE, the virtual conference recently taking place.

In a real-time audience poll, the attendees cited industrial as the sector they would be most likely to invest in.  However, much of the discussion pointed to the upsides in what, so far in 2020, has been mostly seen as a negative story for the other sectors.

“Retail may be the sector everyone loves to hate, but all that means is that it’s at the bottom of a cycle that is going to rebound,” said Wade Achenbach, executive vice president, Portfolio Management at Kite Realty Group. “The strip sector and the mall business were struggling for a lot of reasons, and COVID has dramatically made them the hardest hit. If you just look at that trend alone, that’s going to be short lived. You have to be very careful of what you’re looking at. There is no online-only retailer that’s making money today, nor has there ever been. What’s really happening when somebody says e-commerce?  It’s more of an omnichannel. Even Amazon realizes the value of stores with its purchase of Whole Foods.”

The old adage, buy low and sell high, applies.

“I think there is more of an opportunity (in retail) than any of the other sectors,” Achenbach said.

Speaking on behalf of the office sector, which many are questioning in light of the shift to work from home, George Hasenecz, senior vice president, Investments at Brandywine Realty Trust, said its demise has been incorrectly predicted in the past — just as it is now.

“When you think about all the economic events and social trends that have occurred, the dot com bust, September 11, the densification of the office and COVID, people have always said that office is dead. Office has always reinvented itself,” said Hasenecz. “Work from home has been successful in response to the crisis, but it’s very difficult to work in a collaborative environment. How do you maintain your culture, bring new employees on and recruit? Work from home really does go against people’s needs and desires to come together. We think that Class A office is going to be in high demand. Companies want to make sure their employees and their talent feel safe. There still is the competition for talent and office space will be used as a recruiting tool.”

A similar story is playing out in the multifamily sector, said John Drachman, co-founder at Waterford Property Company. The pandemic has driven many people out of dense urban areas and into suburban multifamily units. The turnaround has been sharp in large markets such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago, where vacancies are increasing and rents are falling. One year ago, the main story line in these markets was a lack of affordable housing.

“As with retail and office, a wider perspective will benefit investors,” Drachman said. “People will move back to urban areas. If you can stomach a little bit of pain, over the long term there could be great buying opportunities for urban apartments.”

Rene Circ, senior managing director and COO at GID Industrial and GID Investment Advisors LLC, spoke on behalf of the industrial sector, which to no one’s surprise seems to be strong. He said there are essentially very few people who are not buying things online.

“I would argue that too much capital is allocated to multifamily and way too much is allocated to retail,” Circ said. “Investors will need to invest in industrial.”

The panel was moderated by Will McIntosh, head of Research at USAA Real Estate.

 

Source: GlobeSt.

double down

For some Miami developers, the last few months have provided an opportunity to “double down.”

“Our affordable division is extremely active,” Jon Paul Pérez, executive vice president of Related Group, said during The Real Deal’s latest episode of Coffee Talks.

Pérez noted that Related has broken ground on three projects in the last 45 days.

Another guest on the episode, Dezer Development founder Gil Dezer, also remains bullish on building across Miami. Last week, Dezer received the first approval for a massive project at North Miami Beach’s Intracoastal Mall, despite opposition. When asked about financing for the project, Dezer said that his company has been covering all costs.

“We don’t have financing today, but we don’t necessarily need it today either,” Dezer noted.

For Pérez and Related — the largest developer in South Florida — there are opportunities away from the luxury beachfront markets.

“We’re very bullish in Wynwood,” Perez said. “I think that’s one of the neighborhoods that has the most growth potential.”

He noted that Related owns four sites there, which it will transform into 2,000 units, and is finishing a new headquarters in Coconut Grove.

The pair are competitors and collaborators: Dezer and Related teamed up on the Residences by Armani/Casa last year. Closings began in December 2019.

“It was just in time, Dezer said. “We had our opening party, and a week later, Covid happened. Sometimes you have more luck than brains.”

Click here to watch the YouTube video Coffee Talk with Gil Dezer & Jon Paul Pérez for more top developer takes on the Miami market.

 

Source: The Real Deal

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A key component of a successful real estate investment is choosing the right asset class to invest in within the given market.

Supply and demand is constantly changing, meaning what was a lucrative investment one, two, or 10 years ago may not be worthwhile today. See what types of real estate are in high demand right now and how investors can participate in the growing market.

Before we dive into where opportunity lies, note that just because there’s a general demand for these types of real estate doesn’t mean there’s opportunity for them in every market. Real estate is a very localized business that operates on a macro and micro level. For active investors, it’s important to identify what opportunities lie in your local market or participate in a more diversified investment portfolio specializing in these asset classes through a real estate investment trust (REIT).

1. Cold Storage

Cold storage is a type of industrial real estate responsible for the storage and transportation of cold goods, including food products. The global pandemic interrupted the food supply chain, making consumers and large grocery retailers adapt to the shift in consumer preferences for online grocery sales as well as the need for more cold storage as a whole.

This specialized niche has several barriers for entry, making it a difficult asset class to invest in outside of Americold Realty Trust (NYSE: COLD). Americold is the only industrial REIT specializing in cold storage, owning more than 1 billion cubic feet of cold storage space. The company is well positioned financially to grow with the increased demand.

2. Data Centers

We are undoubtedly in the age of technology, with more people and products becoming reliant on the efficiency, ease, and convenience of technology. Data centers are responsible for safely storing and computing data for the government, large corporations, cloud companies, and even data used from phones.

Demand for data centers has been on the rise over the past decade, but COVID-19-related work-from-home orders have put even more pressure on this growing sector. While demand as a whole is up, certain markets are leading the sector, including northern Virginia and Atlanta.

Data centers are another unique sector to invest in with large barriers for entry, making any of the top data center REITs a wonderful way to participate in this industry.

3. Residential Housing, With Emphasis On Affordable Housing

A study conducted by Freddie Mac found that the U.S. is short 2.5 million to 3.3 million housing units in 29 states, with states like Oregon, California, Texas, Minnesota, Florida, and Colorado the leaders in the housing shortage. These states, among others, are also home to some top-tier markets, where housing prices far outpace wages for the area, putting affordable housing in serious demand.

This means multifamily properties, single-family homes, and new construction can potentially be good investments in the right markets. This asset class is the easiest point of entry for investors, with dozens of options available to participate in actively, like fix-and-flip or rental properties, or passively through residential REITs.

However, it’s important to note that with current eviction moratoriums and a record number of tenants being unable to pay rent, the rental industry is facing tough times, making this a volatile market to participate in right now as a smaller investor. However, this industry is fairly resilient, and while it’s currently facing unique challenges, this market clearly has long-term demand and should bounce back in time.

 

Source: The Motley Fool

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Industrial prices could set to increase as a result of increased activity and rents during the pandemic.

According to a recent survey from RCM/LightBox, industrial players expect rents to increase from 4% to 7%. The asset class has already proven to be resilient during the worst months of the pandemic. As a result, many investors have flocked to the asset class.

“Experts in the industry—brokers, investors and developers—shared with us their expectations that by the end of the year we’d see pricing and rents increasing from 4-7 percent. Those expectations were expressed for many primary and a number of secondary markets, in key population areas, across the country,” Tina Lichens, SVP of broker operations at LightBox, tells GlobeSt.com.

Not all industrial assets are created equal. Manufacturing, for example, has not performed well during the pandemic. Investors as focused on ecommerce-related uses, pharmaceutical-related uses and any industrial supporting essential uses.

“Among the industrial properties to watch are those tied to consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, and other essential services, along with last mile facilities that support growing population bases with quick delivery options,” says Lichens. “Not to be overlooked are mission critical facilities, such as data centers and corporate food products facilities. Data centers, for example, have become increasingly important because so many people are working from home.”

Manufacturing and outdated industrial—which could pose a higher risk in a down market—are the least popular.

“Those subcategories that face the greatest exposure could be older, obsolete facilities along with smaller multi-tenant facilities, particularly those not in strong and established metro corridors,” says Lichens. “Given some of the uncertainties that exist in the overall economy, particularly for small businesses, it may be difficult to underwrite the acquisition of these facilities without predictable cash flow.”

The increased demand for ecommerce and the expectation of increased pricing has created enthusiasm for the asset class, but Lichens says that there is no reason to think that investors are being overly positive.

“Various reports point to growing consumer demand for online shopping and significant increases in store and online activity from Target, Walmart and others. Even before the pandemic, the experts pointed to the increase in ecommerce activity as reason to be bullish on the industrial market,” Lichens says. “The pandemic has truly emphasized our reliance on ecommerce and caused certain areas to experience tremendous growth. With more people in the U.S. accustom to and now embracing ecommerce, it has become a new way of life that has changed our entire consumer culture. It is difficult to envision a shift in the other direction.”

 

Source: GlobeSt.