Restaurants vs. Food Trucks

Restaurant owners continue to struggle with the emergence of food trucks which often park right outside the restaurant entrances during peak hours and serve gourmet food at much lower prices. The restaurant industry is doing its best to convince city governments to somehow curtail this practice by invoking any argument that does not resemble support for anticompetitive regulation.

In Chicago, food trucks are prohibited from parking within 200 feet of retail food establishments. New Orleans requires food trucks to change locations after 45 minutes in one place. Legislators in Las Vegas are considering an ordinance that would prohibit food trucks from parking for more than four hours a day on a public street within 300 feet of a retail food establishment. Washington DC is considering an ordinance that would restrict where food trucks can operate and require them to make arrangements for trash removal.

In some cases, the food truck industry has succeeded in preventing such regulation from standing in court. A 2009 El Paso, TX ordinance was overturned in court after four local food truck vendors sued the city. The ordinance prohibited food trucks from doing business within 1,000 feet of retail food establishments. The lawsuit also resulted in the removal of an ordinance that only allowed food trucks to do business when hailed by customers and to remain parked only for as long as customers were being served, according to a report in SmartMoney.

CRE Market Growth in Russia

CBRE expects the Russian commercial real estate investment market to grow to $4.5 billion in 2012, according to SA Commercial Prop News. In 2011, CRE investment transactions totaled $6.4 billion.

Over 3.4 million square feet of industrial space was delivered into the market in the first half of 2012 and yet the vacancy rate in this sector remains below two percent. Average rents for industrial space are at $12.54/sf.

CBRE expects the Russian economy to grow by 4 percent for the third year in a row, unless economic problems in Europe and the U.S. lead to a decline in oil prices. The Russian economy is expected to outperform the majority of its counterparts, according to the report.

Polish Retail Market

Close to 2.8 million square feet of retail space was delivered in Poland during the first half of 2012, according to PropertyEU. The 19 new projects include 10 new shopping centers, four extensions, three stand-alone retail warehouses and two retail parks. The completions mark a 16 percent decrease over the same period in 2011.

The retail market in Poland is becoming more mature both in terms of types of retail space and in terms of the geographical split. Over the last 4-5 years, medium and small cities have risen in importance, increasing their market share in the overall volume of the annual supply, the report indicates. Thirty-one percent of supply delivered in the first half of 2012 is located in cites below 100,000 in population.

August 2012 CCRSI

The CoStar Commercial Repeat Sale Indices (CCRSI) are based on 854 repeat sales in June 2012 and more than 100,000 repeat sales since 1996. The CCRSI offers the broadest measure of commercial real estate repeat sales activity.

Some highlights of the August 2012 report:

  • Only 18.6 percent of observed trades in June 2012 were distressed, – lower than the 28.8 percent average over the past three years.
  • The Multifamily Index advanced by a cumulative 24.3 percent through the first half of 2012, putting this sector closest to its peak level in 2007.
  • Pricing in the retail sector posted 3.7 percent average quarterly growth over the first six months of 2012. After bottoming in June 2011, the retail property sector has since advanced by 10.1 percent.
  • The Office Index for June 2012 reflected the economic uncertainty in the market, growing only 1.7 percent over year-ago levels.
  • The Industrial Index declined by 1.7 percent in the second quarter of 2012, reaching its lowest level since 2003.

Source: NASDAQ

Rio Towers

Bulgarian real estate developer MRP International is leading a consortium that plans to develop Rio Towers – six fifty-story waterfront office buildings in Rio’s central port district, according to The Wall Street Journal. The project will add 3.47 million square feet of office space to Rio’s downtown which currently has a vacancy rate of 1.6 percent. The final value of the towers can be as high as $2.5 billion.

The consortium, which also includes the Trump Organization, is expected to complete the project by the 2016 Olympic Games. Rio Towers is part of a larger initiative known as Porto Maravilha which is led by the Rio municipal government. The initiative’s aim is to revitalize the city’s port district.

Recovery in the CRE Market

The Wall Street Journal reports that a new survey expected to be released by KPMG LLP is expected to show a resurgence of caution by commercial real estate executives in regards to the recovery.

The survey shows that a majority of industry leaders don’t expect a full economic recovery until 2014, according to the report. The reasons cited include the European crisis, lukewarm job growth and rising operating costs. Forty-six percent of commercial real estate executives said their management teams will be working diligently to cut costs in the next two years.

The respondents’ view on employment was more positive: Fifty-eight percent expect to add jobs in 2013 – up from 53 percent in the previous survey. Thirty percent forecast that headcount levels will remain the same while 12 percent expect a decrease.

The survey was conducted in June and included about 80 senior commercial real estate executives.

Five Factors Driving the Industrial Sector Revival

1. Strong supply and demand characteristics:

  • National vacancy rate has declined by 90 basis points since Q1 2011 to 9.1 percent – a level last seen in 2009;
  • Eight consecutive quarters of positive net absorption;
  • Vacancy in the big box (>400,000sf) market at less than 3 percent in some major U.S. logistics markets;
  • Resurgence of speculative development in key hub markets.

2. Influx of foreign capital:

  • Industrial investment sales have increased from $10.9 billion in 2009 to $35.1 billion in 2011 and are expected to be $40-$45 billion in 2012.

3. Reevaluation of supply chain networks:

  • Growing labor costs in Asia increase the appeal of the U.S. labor market;
  • Volatile fuel costs make proximity more relevant;
  • Close proximity reduces freight costs and risks and improves speed-to-market and customer service.

4. Growth of e-commerce:

  • Traditional stores are increasingly giving way to online shopping, increasing the practicality of and demand for regional distribution centers.

5. U.S. connectivity and infrastructure:

  • U.S. has a world-class supply chain infrastructure, which attracts and retains manufacturers;
  • U.S. is near the Panama Canal;
  • Expansion/update of the Canal and the U.S. ports that will serve the larger ships will also encourage investment and growth in the industrial sector.

Source: Jones Lang LaSalle as reported in PR Newswire.

Investing in REITs

Since October 2011, the MSCI U.S. REIT index has gained 30 percent (excluding dividends) compared with a 22 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The article indicates that residential REITs may be overvalued despite strong fundamentals such as rising rents and low vacancy rates. AvalonBay Communities trades at a premium of 26 to its NAV and Equity Residential trades at a premium of 30 percent to its NAV.

Industrial REITs, on the other hand, are a good option because demand has increased and investors have yet to flock in that direction. His team recommends DCT Industrial Trust and Duke Realty trade at premiums of 8 percent and 4 percent respectively to their NAVs.