REjournals attracted the biggest names in the local commercial real estate market to its Western Michigan and Grand Rapids Commercial Real Estate Summit held Oct. 27 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And given that the CRE professionals here were still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, you might have expected some gloom during the event. But that wasn’t the case.
Instead, the event focused on optimism. Speakers at the summit, drawn from the biggest names in the region’s commercial real estate industry, said that the Western Michigan CRE business has remained mostly strong throughout the pandemic. Yes, the pandemic did hurt. But the commercial real estate market here remains strong.
That’s especially true in certain sectors, most notably industrial, multifamily and healthcare. Speakers said that these sectors have remained strong so far throughout 2021. And industrial in particular continues to boom.
Brent Case, vice president of business attraction for The Right Place in Grand Rapids, was the opening speaker of the summit. He was a good choice: Case’s job is to attract new business investment and jobs to the West Michigan region. He told attendees that there are plenty of reasons for businesses to locate in this slice of Michigan, including a strong labor force, low cost of living and an excellent location in the center of the country.
Speaking on the Apartment Market Update and Forecast panel were Charles Krisfalusi, Director, Real Estate Finance, Walker & Dunlop; Bobby Nicolls, Asset Manager, Monarch Investment and Management Group; Scott Nurski, Senior Multifamily Investment Specialist, NAI Wisinski of West Michigan; Jason Krug, Managing Director, BERKADIA; Moderator Matt Jones, Vice President, Colliers; and Ryan Wheeler, President, Wheeler Development.
Not surprisingly, these professionals shared plenty of good news about the multifamily market in Western Michigan and Grand Rapids. The apartment market is one of those sectors that has remained strong, even during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the reason? Most renters continued to pay rent. And because people need a place to live, they priortized doing that throughout the pandemic.
Panelists agreed that the multifamily market here should remain strong throughout the rest of 2021 and remain strong next year. The biggest need in this market? As it is across the country, Western Michigan and Grand Rapids are in need of an influx of affordable apartment communities.
The Market Sector Update panel brought plenty of good news, too. Speaking on this panel were Chris Prins, Partner, Industrial RE Advisor, NAI Wisinski of West Michigan; Scott Morgan, Senior Vice President, Colliers; Anne Ficeli, President, PURE Real Estate Management; Mark Ansara, Managing Principal/Senior Vice President of Retail, ADVANTAGE Commercial Real Estate; and moderator Shari Veldman, Executive Director, Commercial Alliance of Realtors.
Speakers said that the Western Michigan industrial sector remains strong, having grown even stronger throughout the pandemic.
Of course, the office and retail sectors do face challenges here, as they do across the country. But panelists said that creative retailers are surviving. And as for the office sector? It does face challenges. But panelists said that next year should be stronger as more companies begin to bring their employees back to the office.
Speaking on the Downtown and Suburban Developments panel were Jeff Olsen, Partner, Olsen Loeks Development; Alan Kranzo, Senior Director, Facility Strategy & Planning, Spectrum Health; Stephen Clark, Director of Commercial Development, Gerald R. Ford International Airport; Mike Mraz, President, Real Estate Development, Rockford Construction; and moderator Eric Icard, Senior Business Development Manager, The Right Place.
Panelists said that next year should be a busy one for development in Grand Rapids and the rest of Western Michigan.