Associate Zachary I. Rosenberg, an Associate with the transactional department, recently attended the Urban Land Institute’s 7th Annual “What’s ‘REAL’ly Going On” Conference at Purloo Restaurant in Central City, New Orleans. The annual seminar, which was held on November 11, 2015, provided an opportunity for the region’s real estate community to learn more about market trends in the greater New Orleans area as well as nationally.
According to Mr. Rosenberg, “Next year is shaping up to be another strong year for local development opportunities. Whether it’s in the CBD, the new medical district, Metairie, or across the lake, there are significant opportunities for developers and investors.”
“But as the region continues to experience growth,” he adds, “it is important that we start to think through future issues. For example, we need to start thinking about ways to improve the region’s transportation infrastructure so that we can handle the influx of people while continuing to attract young professionals who have come to expect cheap and sustainable forms of alternative transportation.”
EMERGING REAL ESTATE TRENDS
Andrew Warren, Director of Real Estate Research at PricewaterhouseCoopers, discussed emerging real estate trends throughout the United States. Warren predicted that 2016 would see an increase in outside investors and developers coming to the greater New Orleans region as it becomes more and more expensive to develop in large cities such as New York and San Francisco. He believes New Orleans continues to offer greater price points and value, which should result in even more regional investment in 2016.
Young professionals and Millennials, who want to stay in large, urban environments as opposed to moving to the suburbs, are driving most of these emerging trends. In the same vein, he pointed out that younger generations want more housing flexibility and are moving away from home ownership. As a result, the apartment market should continue to grow in 2016, both locally and nationally.
Warren also talked about the shrinking size of office space throughout the country as younger generations adapt to different work environments and expectations, a trend he expects to continue over the next several years. Finally, Warren emphasized the need for cities and communities to consider multi-modal forms of transportation in the coming years as Millennials look for other ways to travel and commute.
Warren concluded his presentation by pointing out that real estate markets throughout the country are trending upward and the greater New Orleans region is no different. His advice to attendees for the upcoming year is to “figure out what it is you do well and continue to do it in 2016.”
LOUISIANA POLITICAL LANDSCAPE – HOW WILL IT AFFECT REAL ESTATE?
Jim Nickel, a principal in the Baton Rouge lobbying firm Courson Nickel, discussed the state’s political landscape after the recent fall elections. After summarizing the various races in the state legislature and offering his predictions in the upcoming run-off elections, Nickel focused most of his time on the major issues the state government will face in 2016.
According to Nickel, the state fiscal situation is the most pressing issue. He predicts the budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year will be $750 million and that state will face a structural deficit of $1 billion over the next four years. The legislature and governor will be looking for ways to make up that shortfall, either through tax increases or getting rid of tax credit programs, and Nickel warned the audience that no program is safe.
Of particular interest to the attendees, Nickel predicted that the historic tax credit program would likely remain safe, but urged them to lobby and contact their representatives to emphasize the importance of the program to both business and the region.
GREATER NEW ORLEANS DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS OVERVIEW
Casius Pealer, Director of the Tulane Masters of Sustainable Real Estate Development Program, briefly discussed ULI’s 7th Annual “What’s ‘REAL’ly Going On” report, a compilation of all $5 million+ development projects currently in progress in the greater New Orleans region. The report, which is set to be released at the end of the year, shows that there is currently $8 billion in real estate development throughout the greater New Orleans region. The major areas of development in 2015 were hospitals (driven by the recently completed University Medical Center and the VA hospital currently under construction), education facilities, and industrial projects.
PANEL DISCUSSION ON REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT – TRANSPORTATION IS KEY
In the final event of the conference, Pealer moderated a panel discussion with Melissa Gibbs (Gibbs Construction), Katy Reynolds (The Vivelan Group), Larry Schedler (Larry G. Schedler & Associates, Inc.), and John Schroder (Mauti Meredith Scoggin Properties and a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives).
Gibbs updated the group on the progress of the new terminal at Louis Armstrong International Airport and was happy to report that it is still on track. Reynolds, who focuses on sustainable real estate development, noted that developers do not have to pay a premium to be “green,” and described a sustainable development project she recently completed in Sacramento.
Both Schroder and Schedler talked about the increase in demand for multi-family units on the North Shore, particularly in St. Tammany Parish. Both foresee more businesses relocating to St. Tammany, which will further drive demand for multi-family units. However, both cautioned that there is a shortage of affordable housing on the North Shore and that it needs to be addressed as more and more companies relocate across the lake.
The bulk of the conversation focused on transportation and the need to find alternative transportation options to seamlessly connect the greater New Orleans region. Gibbs and Pealer both talked about the proposed light rail system from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and noted there is a high possibility something is in place within four years. Schroder warned the audience that any light rail system would place a heavy tax burden on individual taxpayers and that subsidies were needed in order to get the system on line.
All participants stressed the need for multi-modal forms of transportation to help the region continue to grow and attract young professionals. Whether it is a streetcar line, more bus routes, bike lanes, ferries, or light rail, all five speakers believe transportation is the key to the future of both New Orleans and its real estate market.