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Five Issues Landlords Should Consider Regarding a Pandemic's Impact on Commercial Tenants

Originally published in NAIOP's Summer 2020 Issue By Michael Stewart

Many tenants need rent relief, but what are the best ways to go about providing it?

As state and local governments rolled out measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in March, commercial landlords began getting calls for help from tenants. In an environment where social distancing has taken hold and more customers are staying home, retailers and other consumer-facing businesses are feeling the impact of decreased demand, supply-chain interruptions, and in some cases, mandatory closures.

In light of this rapidly evolving situation, here are five issues landlords should consider before negotiating concessions with commercial tenants.

Loan documents could limit tenant relief. Before agreeing to any reduction in rent or other modifications to a lease, owners should carefully review their project’s loan documents. Many documents include financial covenants that must be maintained during the term of the loan. Owners should ensure that aggregate rent reductions will not reduce net operating income to a point where financial covenant tests are tripped, triggering a default or other lender protections (such as cash management) under the loan documents. Additionally, owners need to confirm whether their loan documents permit the modification or termination of a lease, or acceptance of less rent than stipulated.

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New Brief: Using Capital Improvements to Create Competitive Advantage in the COVID-19 Era

Originally published by Dustin C. Read, Ph.D./J.D., Associate Professor, Virginia Tech and Sam Kuprianov, undergraduate Real Estate major, Virginia Tech in July  2020

The NAIOP Research Foundation published a timely new research brief titled "Using Capital Improvements to Create Competitive Advantage in the COVID-19 Era," written by Dustin C. Read, Ph.D./J.D., Associate Professor, Virginia Tech and Sam Kuprianov, undergraduate Real Estate major, Virginia Tech.

In addition to disinfecting common areas and promoting social distancing, some owners of office and industrial spaces are investing in capital improvements designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. This research brief evaluates the merits of these capital investments and their potential to create durable competitive advantages.

This is the second in a series of briefs the Foundation plans to publish in response to the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on commercial real estate, following "Navigating a Safe Return to Work: Best Practices for U.S. Office Building Owners and Tenants." 

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Harrisburg Unified Development Ordinance Survey

 Originally published in the REBIC Newsletter on July 28th

The Town of Harrisburg kicked off its Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) update project on May 20, 2020, with a presentation by Kendig Keast Collaborative, the lead consultant on the project, to a joint Town Council and Planning and Zoning Board meeting. The UDO will contain contemporary zoning and development regulations in a format that is easily understood by Town Council, Town staff, residents, business leaders, and the development community.

The project will last until March 2021, with the majority of the time being spent drafting the update to the existing UDO. This project is a key step in the implementation of the Harrisburg Area Land Use Plan (HALUP) so that the policies of the Plan become a reality as Harrisburg develops and redevelops. The update of the UDO will align regulations to meet the community vision illustrated in the HALUP.

Community feedback is essential so that the drafted new regulations are right for Harrisburg. To aid our consultants in their research and discovery, we need your help. This survey is intended to identify common areas of opportunity and concern and to ensure the updated UDO implements the recommendations of the HALUP in a manner that the community supports.

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City of Concord Development Ordinance Changes

Originally published in the REBIC Newsletter on July 28th

The City of Concord, with the assistance of Tindale Oliver, has been rewriting the Development Ordinance in an effort to align it with the adopted 2030 Land Use Plan.  The preliminary draft for new townhome regulations is now available for review. This proposed revision replaces Section 7.7.4.E.

If you are interested, please use the link below to leave comments on the proposed changes.  

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Three NAIOP Research Foundation Visionaries Become Governors

Originally published on July 6, 2020 by NAIOP.

The NAIOP Research Foundation announces the appointment of three new Governors to join the Foundation’s 66 Governors. Individuals who demonstrate their commitment to the Foundation’s mission by making a substantial contribution to its endowment fund are invited to accept this lifetime distinction. The new Governors will be inducted at NAIOP’s CRE.Converge conference in October.

The Research Foundation Governor inductees are:

Lewis Agnew
Lewis Agnew, CCIM
President, Charles Hawkins Co., Nashville, Tennessee, NAIOP Nashville.
Lex Rickenbaker
Lex Rickenbaker
Executive Director – Investments, USAA Real Estate Company, Atlanta, Georgia, NAIOP Georgia
Colleen Wevodau
Colleen Wevodau
Partner, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, Vienna, Virginia, NAIOP Northern Virginia.


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Amazon Could Provide a Peek at Industrial’s Post-COVID Future

Originally published in NAIOP's Summer 2020 Issue by Ed Kimek, AIA, NCARB

The e-commerce giant understands how to connect products and consumers.

Commerce was changing before the outbreak of COVID-19, from the exponential trajectory of e-commerce, to the growth in consumer demand for more immediate goods, to the rise of urban industrial development to fulfill last-mile needs.

The unknowns of this novel virus have accelerated that change to a tipping point. The structures of commerce, and the development that supports it, may be altered for good. This crisis is proving the necessity of a resilient supply chain.

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Virtual Panel – Are Lenders Lending?

Join us on Monday, July 27th as we hear a panel of experts discuss the present state of lending from different lenders’ perspectives on the present commercial lending environment. Submit questions for the panel in advance here.



Registration for members will be free and $15 for non-members through July 22. Beginning July 23, the registration fee will increase to $10 for members and $20 for non-members. Prior registration is required.

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Apply for NAIOP’s National Forums Program

The National Forums program brings together industry professionals in select groups to share industry knowledge, develop successful business strategies and build strong relationships in a confidential and non-competitive setting. Learn more about this unique opportunity and apply for appointment today. 

The Forums provide a unique opportunity for members to openly discuss project challenges, business opportunities and lessons-learned in a confidential and non-competitive setting. Over time, fellow members become a trusted circle of advisors.

The National Forums are an excellent way to become involved, stay in touch and develop new connections with key industry leaders.

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Open For Business Directory

The City of Charlotte Small business network is more than 10,000 strong.

Add your small business to the Open for Business directory to have your information displayed on the Open for Business website and receive notifications when new access to capital opportunities and resources are available.

The Open for Business platform is a resource for Charlotte small business owners to help them withstand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. By providing access to capital and other resources, the program is intended to help businesses survive the recovery phase of the pandemic and help prepare businesses to thrive in a post-pandemic future.

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A New Look at Market Tier and Ranking Systems Webinar

Primary Markets, Gateway Cities, Tier 1 Metros – we’ve all heard of them, and many commercial real estate professionals use them to group cities and markets together. Are these terms simply describing the flow of capital, or directing investment away from opportunities in other cities? How do they differ for commercial, industrial or residential properties? This webinar will share takeaways from a recent report from the NAIOP Research Foundation and discuss conclusions on the definitions, uses, advantages and disadvantages of sorting and ranking markets into tiers.

Maria Sicola
Co-founding Partner, Citystream Solutions

Charles Warren, Ph.D.
Co-founding Partner, Citystream Solutions

Megan Weiner
Managing and Co-founding Partner, Citystream Solutions

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Lawmakers Pass $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Bill; PPP Deadline Extended

House lawmakers last week passed the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 2), a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that has been a key priority for Democrats since 2018. However, the bill advanced on a mostly party-line vote – with only a handful of members on either side breaking ranks – suggesting its prospects in the Republican-controlled Senate are likely dim. 

The chamber’s Majority Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), later confirmed that sentiment, saying: “This so-called infrastructure bill would siphon billions in funding from actual infrastructure to funnel into climate change policies… It will just join the list of absurd House proposals that were only drawn up to show fealty to the radical left.” 

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Remote Work Is Here to Stay, But Office Footprints Likely Won't Shrink

Originally published on June 29, 2020 by Meredith Hobbs

The COVID-19 pandemic will set a “new normal” for the office workplace as companies adopt and integrate remote work practices deployed during the pandemic, according to a new report from Cushman & Wakefield. Consequently, it will morph from a single location to an “ecosystem of different locations and experiences.”

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Office Occupancy Varies Widely as Workers Trickle Back: Report

Having—for the most part—quickly sheltered in place in March and April, office workers across the U.S. are slowly venturing back to their workplaces, according to a new weekly report from Kastle Systems International.

The Kastle Back to Work Barometer is an average based on millions of aggregated, anonymous daily building access data points from Kastle-secured properties in 10 major metro areas: Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose and Washington. 

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Pain Spreads Wide in Retail and Hospitality

Originally published in Summer 2020 Issue by Shawn Moura, Ph.D., Trey Barrineau

The effects of the coronavirus hit these sectors earlier, faster and more deeply than other areas of commercial real estate.

Fears of contracting the coronavirus, government bans on public gatherings, mandatory closures of nonessential businesses and social distancing measures pose ongoing challenges to the retail and hospitality sectors. Many stores have been forced to temporarily close their doors in response to government mandates or in reaction to sharp declines in foot traffic.

The coronavirus crisis could also hasten the failure of retailers that are heavily indebted or have poor cash flow. The Wall Street Journal noted in March that junk-bond-rated retailers that are particularly reliant on Chinese imports are most vulnerable to the effects of the virus. Healthier retailers may eventually recoup some of their losses after the outbreak when consumers return to stores to satisfy pent-up demand for goods and services.

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Effects of COVID-19 Predicted to Decrease US Office Demand

Originally published by NAIOP Charlotte 

“The virus’ macroeconomic impact is now quite visible in U.S. data,” according to the Q2 2020 NAIOP Office Space Demand Forecast. “Since March 2020, COVID-19 has markedly altered the U.S. macroeconomic landscape as states issued stay-at-home orders designed to limit the spread of the disease. Workers across multiple industries are staying home, and it is unclear how or when they will return their workplaces. Due to the turmoil in the national economy, rising unemployment and continued uncertainty about future work arrangements, the U.S. office market absorption is forecast to decline into negative territory through the second quarter of 2021.”

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Will Teleworking Change the Future of the Office?

The COVID-19 pandemic might not have a massive economic effect on the office sector, but it could spark big new ideas on the use of space.

The office sector appears to be less vulnerable to disruptions associated with the coronavirus pandemic than retail or hospitality, but it’s not entirely immune to an economic downturn — or the acceleration of changes in the ways people have been working  during the crisis.

Mandatory closures and other social distancing measures have taken a toll on firms that are closely tied to the consumer economy, such as the British airline Flybe, which went bankrupt in March after travel bookings plummeted in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses that cannot conduct most of their business remotely are also in peril. On the other hand, many companies have learned that they can run their operations without anyone physically in the office, a trend that has the potential to depress demand for traditional office leases.

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One Month Left for Free CRE Courses

NAIOP is offering all on-demand courses absolutely free to all members through August 1. No code is required. Members can log in with their member ID to see complimentary pricing.

Please note: The ARGUS Software Certification (ASC) - Enterprise Bundle is excluded from this promotion.

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Waters of the US Goes into Effect; Infrastructure Package Introduced

Originally published in June 2020 by Shawn Moura, Ph.D., Director of Research, NAIOP

Last week, the Trump administration’s Waters of the U.S. – or “WOTUS” – rule went into effect. The new regulation, which defines the scope of federal jurisdiction over streams, rivers and other bodies of water, largely replaces the broader Obama-era rule. NAIOP weighed in on a draft proposal more than a year ago, and in January complimented the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers on developing a final rule that appropriately balances conservation and economic development.  

In an effort to block the rule’s implementation, opponents of the legislation have been busy filing lawsuits in many of the nearly 100 federal district courts nationwide. And while a California judge threw out a request to block the rule nationwide, a Colorado court issued a preliminary injunction, putting the rule on hold in the state. A number of lawsuits, filed by environmental groups, states, tribal governments and other entities remain pending. 

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Navigating a Safe Return to Work: Best Practices for U.S. Office Building Owners and Tenants

Originally published in June 2020 by Shawn Moura, Ph.D., Director of Research, NAIOP

Best Practices for Building Owners

Reopening Buildings

Owners of buildings that have been partially or entirely vacated during the outbreak need to complete several tasks to ensure that buildings are clean, safe and in good working order before reopening.

Equipping and Training Staff

As an initial step, building owners need to acquire personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, masks and hand sanitizer, for cleaning, maintenance and operations staff, as well as disinfectant and cleaning supplies in quantities that are sufficient to meet ongoing operations. All staff require training in the proper usage and disposal of PPE, the proper application of disinfectants, proper handwashing techniques and social-distancing measures that are in accordance with CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines. This training is critical to ensure the health and safety of staff and building occupants.

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A Fresh Look at an Old Question: Which Real Estate Markets are the Best?

Are you currently in a Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 market? Or perhaps a gateway city, a 16-hour city or a secondary market? Are you sure?  

Tier models rank metropolitan real estate markets based on their investment potential or growth characteristics. But different analysts use different methodologies and rank markets differently as a result. Adding to the potential for confusion, analysts often adopt different terminologies to describe markets and may create separate rankings for different property types or different audiences. 

In the NAIOP Research Foundation’s report, “A New Look at Market Tier and Ranking Systems,” Maria Sicola, Charles Warren, Ph.D., and Megan Weiner with CityStream Solutions, LLC, examined how analysts develop and use ranking systems and considered ways these systems could be improved.

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