Predicting the future during challenging times requires experience and knowledge, not a crystal ball. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives and businesses in many ways. We are fortunate that our business of commercial real estate, construction and development has continued to do well in these unprecedented times.
It’s taken some creativity and a lot of teamwork; not only is the field of industrial and commercial real estate changing because of this pandemic, but the way we provide comprehensive commercial real estate services to our clients has had to change as well. Social distancing, state-wide lockdowns, and virtualizing many processes that used to be face-to-face has been a real transition.
As well, the complete disruption in supply lines has made completing large commercial construction projects difficult. But we have followed through, and our business is still growing. Which means we’ve been able to continue to help other companies with their expansions even through the pandemic. In fact, Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s small businesses are still growing, proving the region’s market potential and its people’s tenacity.
While many fields have seen a downturn in business, the field of commercial real estate has seen a boom. Not only do retailers, office spaces and warehousing facilities need sustainable layouts for social distancing, but the demand for single family homes in the outer belts of city centers has almost skyrocketed. More and more real estate developers are entering our region and developing commercial land into residential communities in an attempt to answer this demand.
As well, the e-commerce boom and our proximity to CVG is attracting national manufacturers and distributors looking for business park parcels to construct on, or warehouses on the market that they can buy or lease, then renovate to their needs. This has also caused an uptick in the rate at which we’re seeing the construction of new industrial buildings with the intent of selling or leasing them immediately upon finishing. COVID or not, growing businesses are trickling into the region, and we want to encourage it to stay a steady flow.
As The Schueler Group of Companies has witnessed and experienced these almost constant changes throughout 2020 and onward, we’re realizing that staying on top of market trends and predictions is more important now than ever.
“History has taught us that during times of crisis we need to adjust our thinking, as well as our strategies and actions, to better enable us to adapt to change. It also forces us to take stock of not just where we are going, but where we have been.” Mike Schueler
Looking Forward in the Field of Commercial Real Estate
I have been in the real estate business for 47 years. Over the years, we have bought thousands of acres of land for development in Warren and Butler Counties bordering Interstates 71 and 75. Our company was founded by a man who had great vision, who perceived the development of a “super city” stretching from Cincinnati to Dayton. We have witnessed these cities expanding their borders to include shopping centers, dining options, hospitals, and entertainment centers with growing multi-family and residential communities. Our founder’s vision is becoming a reality.
As we look to the future, businesses need to recognize the ever-changing needs and values of their clients. More and more people are looking to create home and work lifestyles that include green space, clean bodies of water to enjoy leisure activities, health organizations close-by, and non-traditional working arrangements. A business’ job is to listen and provide solutions to whatever their clients’ needs may be, and having the foresight to know those needs will likely change in the future.
It is predicted that as more people continue to work from home, even in a post-pandemic environment, there will be more value in industrial, data center, life science, and single-family homes. Suburban life is more attractive than ever. Families are seeking better and more affordable education, community connection, and access to nature. Retail structures and office design will require new concepts.
As the work-life structure of our country changes, real estate developers need to be able to pivot with these changes. And this is where having such a history in the region and an extremely diversified portfolio of commercial, industrial and public projects has come in handy for us at Schueler Group.
How Will a Recovering Economy Affect Real Estate Development Companies?
As the economy strengthens, industry will continue to grow, resulting in more business development and commercial construction. Thinking “green” will be even more critical, creating structures that conserve, versus abuse, the earth’s energy. There will be growing emphasis on ventilation and office structures that focus on occupant comfort, health and wellbeing. We have already completed two multi-use office/industrial buildings for a local company that are designed to operate at zero energy.
As we look ahead at the economy, we see positive indicators:
- Economic forecasters are optimistic, predicting 2021 to be a year of growth.
- Economic recovery is in-process as businesses begin to re-open.
- The global economy will rebound, and a “bullish” America is predicted for 2024.
Source: Connor Lokar, ITR Economics & Findings from The Goering Center 2020 Economic Study.
As we saw many businesses struggle to keep their doors open, our business remained strong in 2020. Our office remained open throughout the year, and we did not have to lay off any employees. Commercial construction projects have continued, and sales and land development projects have been steady. We count our lucky stars to be moving full speed ahead. We predict 2021 will be a year of growth and recovery in many business sectors, and we look forward to a large slate of upcoming projects.
Just as our founder kept an eye on what the future holds for our industry, we too look ahead, and we see a bright light on the horizon.
Business photo created by mindandi – www.freepik.com
Original article written and published for the Goering Center at the University of Cincinnati.