Growth in Real Estate Market Shows Obvious Signs

Thursday, February 23 2006 @ 01:25 pm UTC

Contributed by: jron

In Hampton Roads commercial real estate, is sought as a strong economy, port growth and planned terminal expansions drove interest in getting a foothold in the market, which in the past year saw a marked increase in outside firms making big investments.

According to reports on each market segment given at a forecast at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, while the region's residential real estate market continued booming, the industrial, office and retail markets posted a strong year, too, with many firms from far beyond Hampton Roads leading the spike in interest.

Clay Culbreth Jr., who specializes in industrial properties for GVA Advantis and who gave the report on the industrial market, said "The word is out and the flood gates have opened," and added "In the last 18 to 24 months I have witnessed more activity from local, regional and national developers than in my 23 years in the business."

The E.V. Williams Center for Real Estate and Economic Development at ODU, gathered the reports on the industrial, residential, office, retail, multi-family and investment markets.

Culbreth said, The vacancy rate for industrial properties reached its lowest point since ODU began these market surveys in 1995, as demand for space ratcheted up.

The firm bought more than $100 million in office and industrial properties in Hampton Roads, including, in Hampton, the enormous former Gateway building (purchased for $14 million in October) and the Lucas building (for $12.1 million in December). A large percentage of the investment from firms outside the area came from Maryland-based First Potomac Realty Trust's renewed interest in the market.

First Potomac's president and CEO, Douglas J. Donatelli, said his firm is drawn to Hampton Roads' solid economy and potential for growth, on Wednesday. "It's a diverse economy with a solid anchor, the defense industry," he added.

Aubrey Layne, president and principal broker of Great Atlantic Properties, who gave the report on the region's apartment market, said There are about 2,600 apartment units under construction and about 1,750 proposed in Hampton Roads.

Still the demand for apartments is increasing because for many families the cost of owning a house has risen too high, Rents have increased to an average of $785, up more than 5 percent, Layne said. She added "Multi-family is fast becoming the only option for affordable housing in Hampton Roads."

By: Dijon Wainwright