It’s time to move on.
That’s the message from Dave Drown, president of GLD Commercial in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He is eager to move on from the gloomy days of the recession and into the more positive days of a downtown recovery in his market.
And, of course, he’s far from alone. Brokers across the Midwest are looking forward to better times. And the evidence seems to be mounting that while the challenges of this down economy are far from over, commercial real estate activity is finally starting to increase again.
“It’s not that we haven’t had problems. We have. But I’m excited about the direction we are now heading,” said Drown. “I’m very energized and optimistic about the state of our city right now. And I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.”
Cedar Rapids is well positioned for recovery because it didn’t suffer quite as much during the down days as did some other markets, both in the Midwest and across the country, Drown said. The reasons for this are familiar to those who watch the more conservative markets across the Midwest.
“We didn’t have a lot of speculative buiding here doing the boom times,” Drown said. “That left us better able to handle the down times. The building owners here are in good financial shape to weather the downturns.”
Drown said that mortgage financing is more available to developers today in Cedar Rapids as banks and other lenders return to the market. Yes, projects must be high-quality ones to receive financing. But those developers who present financing sources with strong business plans will find it far higher to receive financing in Cedar Rapids today than they did in most of 2009 and 2010, Drown said.
At the same time, businesses and builders are eager to return to work, Drown said.
“I think people here have realized that the sky isn’t falling anymore,” Drown said. “People are ready now to make their next moves. They are ready to implement their plans.”
Of course, not all commercial sectors are performing equally well in the Cedar Rapids area.
Drown said that office is showing significant signs of life, as is the recession-resilient multi-family market. Drown is especially impressed with the strength of the industrial market in the city.
Industrial is traditionally a strong market in Cedar Rapids. And that hasn’t changed today. Vacancy rates in this market are holding strong, Drown said. And while activity is down, understandably, Drown hopes to soon see those companies that had put expansion plans on hold get back to the business of growing.
“The future looks good,” Drown said. “I think everyone here is encouraged by what they’re seeing, about the direction in which things are heading. For 2011, 2012, I think you’ll see plenty of opportunities in Cedar Rapids and eastern Iowa.”