While there are worrisome economic signs that could affect the commercial real estate industry, Charlotte remains a good market for office buildings, hotels and multifamily development, several experts said last week.
“The most important thing we’ve done is to be in Charlotte because it’s been such a great market,” said Jim Merrifield, managing partner with MPV Properties.
By making it through the downturn and positioning the firm with a good team and properties, “It’s been hard over the last three years to make very many mistakes,” Merrifield said at a real estate forum at the Fillmore Theater in Charlotte.
The forum, moderated by Cristi Lewis, an audit partner with CohnReznick specializing in commercial real estate and construction, was hosted by Bisnow, a digital media company.
Asked if new inventory will increase vacancy rates in Charlotte, Brian Leary, who runs commercial and mixed-use business for Crescent Communities, said, “Most everyone feels good about” 2016.
“November may freak everyone out,” Leary said. “Who knows what happens in Washington?”
But he added, “I think it’s really more the next two or three years.”
“One of the things that happens the moment the market changes is a flight to quality – flight to quality location, flight to quality product,” Leary said.
He has seen good media and social media conversation in Charlotte about quality and “We should absolutely continue to drive that,” Leary said.
Merrifield agreed on prospects for this year, which he said “should be fine.”
“Certainly, clouds (are) on the horizon about the overall national and international economies and what growth is,” Merrifield said. “If the rest of the world has got a flu, we’re bound to at least have a cold.”
He added, “I feel really good about the long-term dynamics for Charlotte. We’re more diversified than we were in ‘08.
“But we’re certainly part of the bigger picture. You have to think there’ll be some slacking in the economy…in the next two to three years and that’ll impact the real estate role.”
Said Merrifield, “I think everyone’s got to be really careful as they go through this period of expansion.”