Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Speaking of the mall towers...

...man I wish the LDS Church would figure out what it's doing. It wants to lead the way in renovating downtown, but all it's managed to do in its 30-months-and-counting of emptying the malls and office towers is...empty the malls and office towers. And spread FUD (Fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Has the LDS Church been taking lessons from Macrosquash?). Now Borders Books is pulling out of Crossroads and has no plans to reopen anywhere downtown. That's not the direction we need to go.

We're saved!

The Koreans are coming, and they're carrying sacks of cash. Well, that's not quite true. They're using wire transfers.

In an effort to get better returns due to favorable exchange rates (and perhaps to move capital farther from North Korea), wealthy South Koreans are snapping up residential property here in the States. With the US market softening, and with it being ever easier to move capital internationally, expect this trend to spread. The value of high-end property is therefore being hedged nicely. Doesn't do much for those of us who are merely mortal. Many who bought in are upside down and can't get out, and many still can't get in. Time to start converting those condos back to apartments?

Meanwhile, on the commercial side...

...things are just peachy. There has been so much focus on residential development over the last few years that commercial development has lagged, and some areas are seeing tight commercial supply across the board.

Can't say that's the case here in SLC, though. Retail has tons of space in all shapes and sizes throughout the Valley, except the southwest. Warehouse and industrial space is easy to find, although finding Class A industrial takes more effort (Word to the wise: there is high-tech space in Utah County and the far south end of the Salt Lake Valley.). The only area that is tight is Class A office space, and that is artificial. The Walker and Kennecott Towers are empty due to renovations. The mall towers are empty due to the LDS Church's plans to tear them down and start over (more on that later). By the time the two renovations are done, a new tower will be sprouting up in the 200 block of South Main. Then the new mall towers will go up, and we'll have Class A office space pouring out our ears.

"But Knute," you say, "I need Class A office space now." Never fear, padwan. Think outside the downtown box. Sugarhouse, Murray, Cottonwood, and Sandy all now have significant quantities of Class A office space, especially Cottonwood. Really want to be downtown? Start out in the burbs and spend the next couple of years forming an investment consortium. When the market sags, snap up one of the historic properties and build it out the way you and your co-venturers want it. That way you can have your HQ in a place with some significance, rather than just another glass box.