Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Eyes of the Nation Are Upon Us

During the boom years, the mantra for many large, national corporations was “You have to be in Vegas” – especially if you were in the retail business. The Valley was growing at a remarkable pace, and all those new customers were irresistible to big business.

Then 2008 happened, and the passion really left the relationship.

During the Great Recession, Southern Nevada lost jobs, residents and, of course, dollars. As incomes dropped, in both size and number, Las Vegas lost its luster in the eyes of big business. This reversal of interest was inevitable, given the circumstances, but it didn’t happen overnight.

As far as two years into the Great Recession, national companies were still taking space in Southern Nevada – perhaps because their competitors were going out of business and leaving gaps to be filled, and because rents were dropping fast. In 2009, we recorded lease comps in Southern Nevada totaling 2.4 million square feet by companies with national or international reach. This fell slightly to 2.3 million square feet in 2010, and then dropped significantly in 2011 and 2012, averaging about 1.8 million square feet in each of those two years.

In 2013, the tide changed, and national companies took 2.1 million square feet of space in commercial projects (again, in comps we had access to, and in projects we track). Most of this space was in Warehouse/Distribution, which ranked #1 in demand in each of the past five years. This has more to do with the nature of Warehouse/Distribution space than anything else – not only are Warehouse/Distribution units larger than other commercial units, they also dominate in the logistics roll, a roll for which national companies have a demand in Southern Nevada.

Light Distribution projects ranked #2 in demand by national companies, with companies leasing 274,000 square feet in those properties. Retail, primarily Power Centers, came in at #3 with 253,000 square feet of leases, and Professional Office rounds out the top four, with 177,000 square feet.

Each of these product types has seen a different demand trend over the past five years. Warehouse/Distribution saw higher demand in 2009 and 2010 than in 2013, and much lower demand in 2011 and 2012 than in 2013. Demand for Light Distribution has been very stable. Retail demand has increased steadily from 2009 to 2013. Professional Office space has seen demand by national companies steadily decrease from 2009 to 2013, by 61.9 percent to be precise.

If this is the space that national companies want, is Southern Nevada going to be able to meet this demand over the next two years? In the case of Professional Office, with demand steadily decreasing and 11 years of supply on the market, there shouldn’t be a problem. Retail is also probably secure, with six years of supply on the market in the retail category, and much of this in the form of big boxes. Things get dicey, though, when we consider distribution space. There is about 7 months of Warehouse/Distribution supply, and 2.4 years of Light Distribution supply on the market. Meeting the demand of national, regional and local companies for distribution product will be difficult unless companies can afford the time required to build their own facilities, or speculative construction begins soon.

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