It’s been a tough year. Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the country’s – and world’s – economies. But despite the challenges posed by the virus this past year, North Carolina continues to attract new and expanding businesses originating within our state, across the US and even internationally.
North Carolina’s business environment continued to receive impressive accolades this year, tying with Georgia for #1 Top Competitive State for Business from Site Selection, 2020 (North Carolina was #1 in 2018, #2 in 2019) and #1 Best State for Business, 24/7 Wall St, 2020.
“That leaders in disparate industries are drawn to locations all across our state proves North Carolina’s broad appeal to businesses across the world,” said Frank Emory Jr., Chair of the N. C. Economic Development Partnership. There are several factors that establish North Carolina’s high rankings.
Favorable legal and regulatory business climate
The lowest corporate income tax in the country
Low business cost
World-class labor pool—including the largest manufacturing force in the southeast, and a young, educated and growing workforce
Favorable, temperate weather
Access to beaches and mountains
Top quality medical facilities
Dariel Curren, EVP of Development Counsellors International, an organization specializing in economic-development marketing, said results of a 2020 corporate executive survey show 55% will bring back or expand US production and operations after leaving due to unfavorable U.S. trade policies and recent global economic uncertainties. During the pandemic, these executives became more interested in medium-sized, rural and suburban areas vs. large metros. “This is good news for Greater Winston-Salem”, Current said. The Triad, positioned between the two largest NC markets (Charlotte and Research Triangle), provides different benefits: little urban sprawl, less traffic congestion, a sizable workforce, and a lower cost of living.
Mark Owens, President and Chief Executive of Greater Winston-Salem Business Inc., feels Winston-Salem will likely benefit from businesses’ growing interest in continuing the work-from-home trend forced by the pandemic. “Growth potential is highest in the industries that Winston-Salem is best suited for, including biotechnology and life science, advanced manufacturing, food and beverage processing, and more.” Although high-profile relocation successes grab the most attention, he said, “more than 80% of new jobs come from existing businesses rather than relocation projects.” "Our major employers are likewise in industries that are primarily seeing resilience from the pandemic, in high-growth industries, and located in a business-friendly local economy that fosters their success", Owens said.
NEW STRATEGIES FOR GROWTH
Owens said his Greater Winston-Salem team developed new marketing efforts to respond to the pandemic, including a refreshed website, digital advertising campaign, data tools and commercial real estate listings “that are designed to get the attention of businesses looking to locate in one of the best communities in the nation.” Marketing efforts should help potential employees to view Winston-Salem as a great place to work, live and play, as attractive as Austin, TX, Nashville and Denver.
Laura Johnson Lee, with Greater Winston-Salem, said "our strategy involves seeking new opportunities and working regionally for success.” "We’re collaborating with city and county partners to identify and market new industrial properties, including sites, spec buildings, brownfield sites and more. Existing commercial and office space is available with more under construction.” “We’re experiencing traction in our recruitment efforts, with positive reception from national site consultants and current economic development clients considering Forsyth County."
Forsyth County and Winston-Salem have struggled for the past several years without ample speculative/vacant buildings or land ready for development, and that challenge continues to restrict efforts to recruit new businesses. “The current lack of sites and modern industrial building is one of biggest impediments to growth,” Mayor Allen Joines said in June 2019. And, the efforts to expand Winston-Salem’s downtown Innovation Quarter have slowed down as fewer buildings eligible for historic preservation tax credits are available. However, the completion of Winston-Salem’s Northern Beltway will open opportunities for new industrial development sites. Both UPS and Ontex were able to identify land (Alamance and Rockingham counties) for expansion projects, and Nestle Purina PetCare recently announced plans to renovate the empty MillerCoors campus in Eden.
"We have work to do, but I feel like we have the system and partners in place to be successful," said Forsyth Manager, Dudley Watts. "We have a diverse portfolio of sites, land and commercial office space that’s suited to appeal to a broad range of incoming projects, and also offers our homegrown companies room to expand."
Watts also stated that Whitaker Park Development Authority is working with Greater Winston-Salem "on a couple of projects interested in the 400,000-square-foot facility there which is currently leased by Hanesbrands.” "The 95,000-square-foot building, 605-12, has been part of many submissions, and is of interest to many as it has expansion potential and rail access", he said.
Chris Chung, chief executive of Economic Development Partnership, said "we feel we will continue to put our communities into play for capital investment and job creation." “I think there is very little that separates these regions in terms of a lot of the data,” Chung said. “Oftentimes, it’s as much about awareness and perception of what the Triad can represent for companies.”
Even though the Triad is shadowed by our larger neighbors, the better North Carolina does as a whole, the better we will do. Access to additional property via the Northern beltway, our strength in post-pandemic industry sectors, ample and highly trained workforce talent, and our high quality of life and low cost of living differentiates the Triad – we just need to get the word out.
Commercial Realty Advisors, LLC, recently announced it will serve as the exclusive listing agent for 275 North Elm, cornerstone of The Outfields, a redevelopment project that will serve as the foundation of the renewal of Downtown High Point. Commercial Realty Advisors is excited to provide brokerage services for this new venture, developed by Elliott Sidewalk Communities and the City of High Point. Commercial Realty Advisors’ project leasing team will include Jeff Andrews and Jordan Reece. Future phases will include residential living and retail.
The Outfields - 275 N. Elm, HP Office/Retail
275 North Elm will be located at the entrance of High Point’s new Truist Point baseball stadium, home of the High Point Rockers, which opened in May of 2019. The project will be a place of community inspired by the art and history of the local furniture heritage, constructed of masonry, brick, steel and glass.
At the foundation of the three-story building will be High Point’s first Food Hall, Stock + Grain Assembly. The 12,000-square-foot modern marketplace will be home to 10 locally-based food and beverage vendors, ample seating and a large outdoor space, combining unique food, retail and entertainment options in a new destination for the revitalized downtown. Baltimore-based Cana Development, one of the country’s premier food hall experts, will develop, lease and manage Stock + Grain. An additional 2,000 square feet of retail space is available for lease immediately adjacent to the food hall.
275 N. Elm, HP - View From Conference Rooms
The second and third floors will be 36,000 square feet of Class A office spaces (18,000 SF per floor) with state-of-the-art amenities, balconies overlooking the ball field, and the most outstanding office views in the revitalized downtown High Point. Single and multi-tenant leases are available, and there is the potential to qualify for City of High Point’s Targeted Downtown Office Incentive Program. A large marquis sign on the third-floor deck overlooking the stadium is available for a lead tenant.
“As a resident of High Point, myself, I am pleased our firm will be involved with such an important project. In addition to the completed baseball stadium, this will help evolve High Point’s downtown into a place that will attract people to work, live and play in the city,” says Jordan Reece, Partner at Commercial Realty Advisors and lead Broker on the project. “We can’t wait to see the final product and it’s impact on our city!”
About Commercial Realty Advisors: Commercial Realty Advisors, LLC, is a full service commercial real estate firm founded in 2006, specializing in brokerage services, development, and property management. Committed to the highest standards of client service and business ethics, we were built on a firm foundation of trust and excellence. Exceeding expectations is a Commercial Realty Advisors hallmark.
About Elliott Sidewalk Communities: We build downtown joy by aligning the interests of municipalities and their university neighbors, creating vibrant Main Street environments that integrate campus life with town life. We transform underused or vacant parcels into a thriving, walkable downtown destination. It attracts students and residents alike with unique retail, cultural and hospitality amenities. It creates energy, economic growth, and a renewed sense of community. It's a joy to behold.
Is your business looking for an industrial property? There can be a lot to consider during the search process, and some of the items that should be on your checklist are more obvious than others.
Commercial Realty Advisors guides clients through the decision process, helping to identify all the different factors needed to make an ideal selection. We help navigate the commercial real estate process from start to finish.
Take a look at the list of considerations below. How would you rank these as priorities in your search?
Proximity to manufacturing/distribution/customer base
Available workforce in the area
Labor cost for the area
Incentives (state, county, city)
Square footage + expansion options
Use (warehouse, distribution, manufacturing, other)
Type of building (steel frame, tilt-up concrete)
Loading (dock doors, drive-in doors)
Sprinkler system: ESFR or wet
Parking (employee, tractor trailer)
Temperature control: air turnover, high and low temperatures
Floor thickness & PSI
Heavy electrical, significant water needs
Lighting (LED, HID or fluorescent)
Davie Industrial Center Phase 1 Exterior
Commercial Realty Advisors has been serving the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina since 2006. With SIOR, CCIM, ACIP and LEED certifications, our highly trained brokers have built a reputation of trust and excellence. Contact us today to help you find the industrial space that’s perfectly suited to fit your needs. Steve Vallos is an industrial space expert; he can be reached at email@example.com or 336.793.0890 ext. 103.
The Warehouse Explosion – Hottest Commercial Investments During Pandemic
Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we already saw the decline in the health of brick-and-morter retailers as the popularity of online shopping has grown. Malls have been closing, retailers suffering, and shopping centers have experienced high turn-over, an increase in the number of FOR LEASE signs in windows of previously successful stores. The shift to e-commerce has created more jobs between 2007 and the end of 2019 than brick and mortar retailers lost, according to Michael Mandel, Chief Economic Strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute. Consumer demand for e-commerce has become insatiable as communities were instructed to shelter in place. Even consumers previously wary of shopping on their computers and phones began to embrace the convenience and safety of shopping online. And this trend will continue.
Some businesses, like Amazon, Target, Costco and Walmart were able to quickly respond to the additional business by adding required warehouse space. Businesses that weren’t ready to make the quick transition to put greater emphasis in online business suffered, and recently big store brands like Neiman Marcus, JCrew, Brooks Brothers, Pier 1, Macys and JCPenney filed for chapter 11.
This growing need to find industrial and warehousing space requires companies to become aggressive and creative. The ability to flex with consumer demand will make or break businesses moving forward, and companies that have the capability to ship from multiple locations across the country–to get as close to the end consumer as possible–will benefit from shorter delivery times and lower shipping costs. Real estate firm JLL predicts an industrial space demand of an additional 1 billion square feet over the next five years. The need is expected to be met with a mix of traditional industrial sectors outside large urban and suburban areas and space close to–or part of–now vacated shopping centers. Although warehousing rent, historically lower in cost than retail, has increased more than 1/3 over the past 3 years, retail rent has decreased, closing the gap between the two.
Right now, Amazon is the most active company to gobble warehouse space since the pandemic began, and occupies the most small and medium-sized buildings, according to Abby Corbett with CoStar. However, Amazon still only occupies 10% of all warehousing in the second quarter of 2020. Of all the latest industrial leases, 60% are smaller warehouses (less than 200,000 SF) occupied by health and medical, light manufacturing and e-commerce companies needing last mile fulfillment (located 6-9 miles from the final destination).
With the ongoing demand for additional warehouse space, industrial real estate has been minimally affected by the pandemic. After the second quarter of 2020, CoStar reports the industrial sector is the most resilient segment of the commercial real estate business. Ongoing requirements for distribution, fulfillment, data center space and cold storage (an industrial warehousing area identified as high growth potential) continue to fuel space demands. With a growing need to increase pharmaceutical capabilities in the US, cold storage has become an important part of the supply chain. Additionally, according to a recent MarketFlash report from commercial real estate firm, CBRE, approximately 95% of all food–either produced in or imported to–the US must go through third-party distribution centers before reaching consumers. In CBRE’s 2019 report, “Food on Demand Series: Cold Storage Logistics Unpacked,” they estimate the need for 75-100 million SF of freezer/cooler space to meet the post-pandemic demand for food storage.
To remain competitive in this new world, retailers will also need to adjust by either expanding their current square footage to accommodate on-site shipments, or finding new networks of small warehouses for quick delivery, especially in more densely populated areas.
In terms of investor returns, Nareit reports that every major real estate sector yielded negative year-to-date returns since the Pandemic began. Multifamily experienced a 26% loss, office declined 28% and retail loss was 48%, while industrial investments dropped only 10%. According to a Q1 2020 survey of Piedmont Triad building permits by themarketedge.com, Forsyth and Guilford counties (with the highest Triad populations) were down 21% and 5% respectively vs. 2019, while Randolph and Davie counties reflected “staggering growth”, up 347% and 338% over the previous year. Not only are real estate prices lower in those rural counties, they are also situated right off major highways, a short drive to other large NC urban metropolitan regions (Charlotte and the Research Triangle of NC).
Davie Industrial Center Phase 1 Exterior
In Davie county, the first phase of a new industrial development has been completed and is now available for lease. 0 Gildan Drive in Mocksville, part of Davie Industrial Center, is a brand new ±324,000 SF building zoned GI (General Industrial), and is equipped with an ESFR sprinkler system. This building is constructed of insulated precast concrete walls and steel and includes 52 dock high doors, 2 drive-in doors, 50’ x 54’ bays with a 60’ staging bay. 0 Gildan Drive is build-to-suit, and could easily be adapted to accommodate cold storage. Davie Industrial Center’s proximity to major highways provides access to half the country within a day’s drive.
This state-of-the-art facility is fully customizable to suit the needs of any business. 0 Gildan Drive in Davie Industrial Center is a sweet spot, literally and metaphorically. For more information, visit davieindustrialcenter.com or call us at 336-793-0890 to schedule a walk-through.
Commercial Realty Advisors’ Property Management Team Prepares Informed, Robust Response to COVID-19
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new dangers to office workers. The risk of touching infected surfaces – or breathing contaminated air – can play a dominant role in how diseases spread inside an office environment.
Whether it’s coronavirus, influenza, bacterial pneumonia, measles or the common cold, how smartly a building is managed and operated can affect employees’ safety in the workplace. The “new normal” requires rethinking procedural and physical environmental
changes as workers return. Both immediate quick fixes and long-term plans must be considered to instill a level of confidence in employees that the businesses can function well without compromising their health.
How We Help Businesses Keep Employees Safe
Commercial Realty Advisors’ Property Management division is hard at work to prepare our managed offices for employees’ safe return. Here are some of the changes we initiated:
Doors into common areas are propped open to reduce surfaces employees need to touch, including stairwells, hallways and restrooms. Long term, we will encourage all property owners to install doors that don’t need handles and can swing open both ways by pushing with your foot, shoulder or elbow. We already install motion-activated lights and motion sensors to bathroom fixtures in the buildings we develop and manage (this is also good for the environment) and are encouraging our property owners to do the same.
Our janitorial staff is following all CDC guidelines for safe building maintenance. On-site dayporters disinfect common area touchpoints multiple times a day using Oxivir TB, a hospital grade disinfectant cleaner, and stairwell railings are cleaned two to three times daily at a minimum, depending on traffic. Trash containers were added inside many bathroom doors to dispose of paper towels upon exit to avoid touching door handles. We now offer deep-cleaning add-on services for tenants who request additional maintenance of personal work spaces, including disinfecting desks, chairs, keyboard and computers, phones, etc. as needed. Hand sanitizer stations will be provided in all lobbies and public areas.
Our responsive maintenance team responds to requests as quickly as possible, and limits interactions with tenants by performing building maintenance first thing in the morning. If work must be done during the day, our workers wear protective gear including masks and gloves for protection. Outdoor air ventilation has been adjusted to increase the maximum amount of outside air circulation within the limits of the air handling system.
We request our tenants wear masks in all common areas and we are installing signage for safety protocols. To encourage social distancing, we limit attendance to two people per elevator, two people in the restroom and no more than ten people in conference rooms (space permitting). In appropriate buildings, we have established “one way” traffic direction in stairwells. We reduced the amount of furniture in lobbies and common areas to support social distancing and to minimize waiting.
The Benefit of a Reliable and Experienced Property Management Partner
Managing your own cleaning and maintenance solutions can be an overwhelming responsibility for a property owner or tenant, especially during this challenging time. A reliable maintenance partner can instill confidence in employees, tenants and clients that the business owner cares about safety and comfort.
Commercial Realty Advisors’ Property Management division controls the operations of office, retail, mixed-use, medical office and industrial buildings throughout the Piedmont Triad. Our team currently manages over 15 properties with more than 115 tenants. With many years of experience, we have developed an outstanding reputation as experts in providing innovative and cost-effective solutions to any property management issue. Our maintenance services include:
On-site dayporter cleaning of common areas
Deep cleaning personal work spaces
Exterior building and ground maintenance
Monthly financial reporting
Capital improvement recommendation and implementation
Building income and expense management
Other duties as requested
Working with a respected and reliable property management team not only ensures your work environment remains safe for your employees and customers, but continued maintenance keeps the property as attractive and functional as possible. This leads to high tenant satisfaction and retention rates, sustained building occupancy, and maximized property values for property owners. To ensure the safety of your employees and tenants and secure the best return on your commercial investments, contact a member of our Property Management team today at 336-793-0890.
They often say it takes thirty days to form a new habit. So with nearly a nationwide shelter-in-place order on Americans for at least that long, people are likely to continue some of their quarantine behaviors once the orders are lifted. These changes in behavior will have a ripple effect, stretching across many different business sectors, one being commercial real estate. Less retail storefronts, larger warehouse needs, and the desire to bring manufacturing stateside are potential outcomes.
We have all experienced the shortage of things like toilet paper, cleaning products, and hand sanitizer firsthand over the past few weeks. This will likely trigger both consumers and companies to change their habits. Consumers will begin to stockpile an additional supply of these types of products in their homes to be prepared for the threat of another event of this nature. Companies will re-examine their approach to the way their supply chains function. They will begin to increase the amount of products they have readily available, which will trigger a greater demand for warehousing across the country.
Traditional retail was already trending from brick and mortar toward e-commerce, but this pandemic will fast-forward that transition. While grocery stores have maintained a strong traditional shopping model with large stores in neighborhood centers, their model is likely to evolve as well. With a lot of consumers forced to begin ordering their groceries for pickup or delivery, we have reached the tipping point of a much more streamlined model. There is expected to be a surge in demand for cooled warehousing in more densely populated areas to allow for timely delivery of perishable goods to a large number of consumers.
The lack of critical items like ventilators, masks, and other personal protective equipment during the pandemic has been highly publicized. The United States’ dependence on cost effective foreign manufacturing has shown itself to be a glaring Achilles heel over the past month. While companies in other industries have made efforts to help by shifting their facilities and workforce to produce these critical goods, shortages could lead to some manufacturing shifting back to the US. Companies that make essential items will look to operate at least one production facility domestically to limit foreign dependence. This could lead to new opportunities for areas in the US with low labor costs and the ability to offer incentives to companies.
How Commercial Realty Advisors Can Help
The demand for additional storage, whether for medical equipment, dry goods or perishable groceries, will require creative solutions from commercial real estate firms. In the Triad of North Carolina there is ample land available for warehouse development, empty space that can be re-purposed for warehouse needs, and existing warehouse facilities that are ready for immediate use. Commercial Realty Advisors, experienced full-service commercial real estate providers, will evaluate all opportunities to determine the best location possible – and under the most favorable terms.
Commercial Realty Advisors is developing three industrial buildings, ±920,678 square feet in total, that are ideally suited for cooled or traditional warehousing. Located in Mocksville, NC, within the Piedmont Triad region and just off I-40, the Central North Carolina site is within 30 miles of four additional interstates and is situated between the Triad and Charlotte Metros - the two largest industrial markets in North Carolina. The first phase is already complete, ready for upfit. Click here to visit the Davie Industrial Center website.
For more information about filling our community’s warehouse needs, contact an experienced broker with Commercial Realty Advisors at 336-793-0890.
Courtyard by Marriott To Open | Opportunity Zone Hot Spot in Winston-Salem!
Our team at Commercial Realty Advisors is excited to see the completion of Winston-Salem’s Courtyard by Marriott, as finishing touches are applied in advance of the downtown Fourth Street’s 126-room hotel opening in March of 2020.
Although we are co-developing the hotel, Virtua Partners, of Scottsdale, Arizona, purchased the property in the summer of 2019, and joins Hotel Equities of Atlanta to take over management once the completed hotel opens in March.
The addition of this new hotel in downtown Winston-Salem rounds out the region’s booming hospitality market. The new space will feature a full-service restaurant, fitness center, swimming pool, meeting/banquet space, large courtyard and access to a public parking deck. The most unique feature of the hotel is the rooftop bar, called “Top of Fourth”, which provides expansive views of our vibrant downtown. Accessible from both within the hotel and through an exterior entrance, the bar solidifies this hotel as a hot new destination spot for the city.
But that’s not the only significance of this property. The Courtyard by Marriott is one of Winston-Salem’s first Opportunity Zone projects.
What exactly are Opportunity Zones and how will this program benefit Winston-Salem? Developed by the Trump administration and approved through The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Opportunity Zone incentive is a tool to encourage long-term investment in specially designated low-income, distressed and rural communities across the nation with the goal of increasing jobs and housing. Simply stated, Opportunity Zones provide a tax incentive for investors to defer and reduce any of their capital gains liabilities (profits earned from the sale of shares of stock, a piece of land, a business and other taxable incomes) and eliminate future taxes by investing at least 90% of their capital into Opportunity Zone properties. Potential profits in these new types of commercial real estate properties are like other investments on steroids–very attractive incentives for potential investors and receiving communities alike. Consult your tax and legal advisors to determine whether the program is right for you.
The state of North Carolina has 252 Opportunity Zone census tracts, and the city of Winston-Salem identified 10. (Click here to see the Winston-Salem tract map.) In addition to downtown, where the Courtyard by Marriott will be located, other tracts include property in Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Whitaker Park, Winston-Salem State University and Union Station, Innovation Quarter, Smith/Reynolds airport, and the communities including Happy Hills, the Lakeside Villas and Boston Thurmond.
Commercial Realty Advisors currently has several Opportunity Zone properties available. If you are interested in learning more about how to invest in the Triad’s Opportunity Zone properties, contact an expert broker at Commercial Realty Advisors today.
View of Outside Deck of "Top of Fourth" Rooftop Bar at Courtyard by Marriott on Fourth St in downtown Winston-Salem