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Lawmakers Address Infrastructure and the Debt Ceiling as Recess Approaches

Posted on July 19, 2019

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing last week on the need for a multiyear reauthorization of highway transportation infrastructure programs. Expanded infrastructure investment, for surface transportation and for broader infrastructure needs, is one of NAIOP’s 2019 legislative priority issues.

While the issue is often described as an area where bipartisan cooperation is possible, Congress is divided on how to pay for any new programs, and the Trump administration has not submitted a detailed legislative proposal to Congress. 

The Senate committee hearing is a first step in moving legislation reauthorizing highway programs. “It is our shared goal to advance a bill out of committee this summer,” Republican committee chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) said. “In our legislation, we must reduce the time it takes for federal permitting, we need to lower paperwork burdens on states, and we need to incorporate innovative construction approaches and other technologies.”

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Expanding Applications for Modular Construction

Posted on July 18, 2019

By Shawn Moura

Modular construction has come a long way since a 2010 issue of Development magazine profiled the building process in “First Look – The Skyscraper’s New Look.” Commercial real estate developers are adopting modular construction – in which building components are manufactured at a facility and then transported to a construction site for assembly – for a broader range of applications and for larger projects. The process is best suited to projects that primarily consist of repeated and uniform spaces. For these projects, modular construction can substantially reduce construction time and improve quality control.

The extent to which modular construction relies on prefabrication varies from project to project. Writing for the New England Real Estate Journal, architect Henry Wheeler explains that projects can range from incorporating prefabricated electrical and plumbing system kits to partial modular construction (where portions of a room are assembled as a pod that is placed into a building) to full modular construction, where entire rooms are manufactured offsite and installed on-site. In the case of hotel rooms that are assembled using full modular construction, “every room element is pre-fabricated and replicated including the walls, windows, carpet, fixtures, accessories, and even artwork.”

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City of Charlotte Progresses in Enhancing Development Services

Posted on July 17, 2019

On July 8, Charlotte City Council voted to approve construction of the first floor of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center for a collaborative, multidepartmental development permitting facility.

Known as the CLT Development Center, the space will provide developers and design teams access to city review staff in a single location for city development permitting services. This initiative brings together staff from all departments involved in permitting to create a more collaborative culture with new services to better meet customer needs.

“The CLT Development Center is the product of our efforts to have collaborative partnerships with the development community,” said City Manager Marcus D. Jones. “We are excited to bring new, innovative ways to work together to create great projects for Charlotte.”

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Blue Line Corridor Rezoning Informational Drop-In Meeting

You are invited to drop in (see hours below) to learn about the City of Charlotte’s plan to rezone land along the Blue Line light rail corridor, in order to align with the adopted recommended future land use and community vision. A presentation will be given at 15 minutes after the hour. City staff will be on hand to help with any questions.

Cabarrus County Commission Considers Fee Proposals at Next Meeting by REBIC

Posted on July 16, 2019

At the Cabarrus County work session on July 1, Planning & Development Director Kelly Sifford discussed the Proposed Fee Increases on planning, zoning and building inspection fees.

During the presentation, Kelly did provide an overview of the several meetings held with REBIC, the Cabarrus Chapter of the Greater Charlotte HBA and the building community. REBIC proposed at those meetings that the Planning Department and building community continue these conversations quarterly, which they have agreed to. The first of these quarterly meetings will be announced shortly.

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Huntersville Assumed Land Development Review & Permitting July 1

Posted on July 15, 2019

Beginning July 1, the Town of Huntersville is assuming review of all land development review and permitting, bringing in-house a variety of services previously provided by Mecklenburg County.

But because the Town failed to request delegated authority for Erosion & Sedimentation Control from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), all E&S review and inspections for projects in Huntersville will continue to be provided by Mecklenburg County LUESA until at least mid-August.

All development plans previously submitted to LUESA will continue to be reviewed by the County, which will also conduct inspections on those projects. Any new development projects submitting from today forward will go through the Town’s Engineering & Public Works Department. Huntersville last month adopted a new fee schedule that is similar to the 2018 LUESA fees for land development plan review, bond maintenance and other related services.

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Retailer Strategies for Meeting Omnichannel Demand

Posted July 12, 2019

By Kathryn Hamilton

Studies have shown that shoppers of all ages are buying more online than in stores than ever before. So how are retailers addressing these shopping and buying habits? David Hudson and Chris Sultemeier, two leaders from Duke Realty, tackled this topic at I.CON West 2019, NAIOP’s industrial conference held this week in Southern California.

Consumers today fully expect to have the ability to shop and engage with a retailer across multiple channels. Three experiences build the multichannel experience for the retailer: 1) giving consumers the ability to buy in a physical store; 2) enabling orders to be placed online; and 3) following and engaging on social media. Studies show that if a retailer can connect with a consumer through all three channels, the value of that consumer (who is typically younger and wealthier) is much greater for the retailer; in fact, the average value of a consumer who engages with a retailer across all three channels is four times the value of one who engages through just one channel. This loyalty – and repeat customer – is key to a retailer’s success.

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Commercial Real Estate and the Big-Data Deluge

Posted July 11, 2019

By Trey Barrineau

Awash in granular digital information, companies are diving headfirst into high-tech solutions so they can make more deeply informed business decisions.

The technological advances shaking up nearly every aspect of modern life are starting to have significant impacts on commercial real estate.

“The biggest trend we’re seeing is this whole digital disruption in our industry, from ubiquitous linked sensors to the technology that’s going into smart buildings,” said Dale Dekker, AIA, AICP, principal with Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, during a recent NAIOP event. “It’s truly driving commercial real estate in a whole new way.”

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Prefabricated Wood Construction Shows Promise

Posted July 10, 2019

By Tom Chung

This efficient, environmentally friendly way to build could increase quality while reducing labor costs.

The shortage of construction workers in America has continued to intensify and building material costs are rising, leaving architects with the difficult task of completing projects that can meet demanding budgets. To remain profitable and meet project deadlines, architects and the industry at large must find creative methods to improve processes, increase return on investment (ROI) and introduce more efficient ways to source construction materials.

The University of Arkansas, in partnership with Leers Weinzapfel Associates, found an innovative solution to these challenges. The university used prefabricated wood construction to build the nation’s first large-scale mass timber residence hall project and living/learning setting, the Stadium Drive Residence Halls. The 202,027-square-foot project — envisioned as a creative learning environment within a relaxed, informal, tree-lined landscape — is being built from prefabricated wood, which has reduced on-site construction time and labor.

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US Office Market Continues to Expand Ahead of Forecast

Posted July 9, 2019

By Dr. Harry Guirguis and Dr. Joshua Harris

Office Leasing Activity Expected to Grow Amid Sustained U.S. Economic Strength

The U.S. office market continues to expand ahead of forecast, posting 18 million square feet of net absorption in the fourth quarter of 2018 and 11 million square feet in the first quarter of 2019. Continued economic growth and increases in job creation are likely the main forces behind these levels of new leasing.

With first-quarter U.S. GDP growth of 3.2% annualized and a current unemployment rate of 3.6%, U.S. office space demand should remain strong during 2019. Dr. Harry Guirguis, Manhattan College, and Dr. Joshua Harris, New York University expect demand to register an average of 13.5 million square feet of net absorption per quarter, which will moderate slightly to an average of 12.7 million square feet per quarter in 2020. This forecast is driven by continued expected strength in office-using employment, which has grown twice as fast as general employment. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s March 2019 jobs report, the primary office-using sector, Professional and Business Services, grew 1.22% year-over-year compared to just 0.6% for total nonfarm employment.

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Charlotte Holding Additional Meetings this Week on Housing Code Changes

Posted on July 9, 2019

The City of Charlotte is hosting a second pair of community meetings this week to discuss proposed changes to its Minimum Housing Code, which are scheduled to be considered by a City Council committee on July 17th.

REBIC and other industry groups have expressed concern that the proposed changes Ordinance could negatively impact housing affordability by raising the cost of property management and code compliance for landlords.

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The Workplace Makeover: From Office to Destination

Posted July 8, 2019

By Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen

To lure top talent, employers must integrate technology and unique experiences into their spaces.

The future of cities is predicated on people. As engines of economic growth, urban areas are the life source of the built environment, with 80 percent of global GDP resulting from their output. The most vibrant cities are those that attract diverse talent with varied skills, perspectives and backgrounds. All of this is driving change and transformation in how people live, work and play.

Looking at the built environment, there is no place that is being more profoundly impacted than the workplace. To retain and inspire the best talent, the most successful organizations will be the ones that adapt their workplace strategies to focus on creating a destination with visceral experiences, an “always in beta approach” and purpose through space.

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Mexican Tariffs Inject Uncertainty into Industrial Market

Posted July 3, 2019

By Joshua A. Harris

The industrial space market, along with the broad macroeconomy in the U.S., received a new jolt of uncertainty with President Donald Trump’s recent announcement of tariffs of up to 25% on goods imported from Mexico. These tariffs, if actually implemented, would represent a new front in global trade wars which have been recently escalating with China and others. Mexico is a very significant trade partner with imports totaling $371.9 billion and exports $299.1 billion in 2018 alone; this makes Mexico our third-largest trading partner and second-largest market for exported U.S. goods. Further, much of the U.S.-Mexican trade includes partially finished goods and component parts that are part of critical supply chains such as those in U.S. automotive production.

As such, the impact of a sustained bilateral trade war between the U.S. and Mexico could be uniquely devastating to both economies and especially to the U.S. industrial space markets. First, inland port markets, such as those in California and Texas, could be directly impacted by lowered volume of goods moving by truck and rail. Second, manufacturing and distribution markets in areas of high levels of U.S. manufacturing activity, such as Ohio and Tennessee, could be impacted by reduced orders as U.S. producers react to price increases of raw materials and components as well as lagging demand for exports. Finally, the vast network of distribution centers supporting retail and e-commerce could be affected by lower demand for goods given an economic slowdown and increased prices on all goods. In sum, such a trade war could easily tip the U.S. into recession.

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Industrial Sector Embraces Innovation as Consumer Demand Stays Strong

Posted July 2, 2019

By Trey Barrineau

Amid a strong economy and surging demand for consumer products, industrial remains one of the hottest segments in the commercial real estate industry. That’s in spite of a minor cooling off that’s predicted for 2019 after several years of exceptional growth powered by the rise of e-commerce and the need for last-mile distribution facilities.

The NAIOP Industrial Space Demand Forecast for the first quarter of 2019 sees demand remaining steady at 57 million square feet of absorption per quarter, roughly the same as 2018. Additionally, the national vacancy rate is just 7 percent.

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Earn Your ARGUS Certification through NAIOP

Posted July 1, 2019

Members save $250 by registering to complete their on-demand ARGUS Enterprise certification through NAIOP. Now is the time to invest in your career!

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City Considering Tightening Minimum Housing Code

Posted June 28, 2019

The City of Charlotte is considering revisions to its Minimum Housing Code Ordinance, with changes that could impact housing affordability by raising the cost of property management and code compliance for landlords.

A full list of the proposed changes is available here, along with the presentation made last week to City Council’s Neighborhood Development Committee. They include:

  • Requiring roof drains, gutters and downspouts be maintained in good repair and free from obstructions and designed to discharge rainwater away from
    the structure.
  • Requiring any existing air conditioning systems to be ‘in good working condition.’
  • Requiring that cabinet doors and drawers be ‘operating as intended and have functional hardware.’
  • Requiring that exhaust ducts for clothes dryers be equipped with a back-draft
    damper.
  • New fines of $500 per day for failure to correct any dangerous violations within 48 hours.
  • Enhanced penalties for Environmental Court convictions that include probation or up to 30 days in jail.
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REBIC Successfully Advocates for Noise Ordinance Fixes for Construction Sites

Posted June 27, 2019

Charlotte City Council voted Monday night on controversial amendments to the Noise Ordinance, but REBIC and our partner associations have successfully advocated for the removal of a highly problematic provision that impacted home builders, developers and general contractors.

Among its many provisions, the amendments under consideration on Monday would allow the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) to designate specific construction sites as ‘chronic noise producers’ and require the creation of a formal plan to mitigate noise impacts on surrounding neighborhoods. This designation is already used (though very sparingly) to address issues that arise with other businesses, like bars and nightclubs.

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NC Senate Passes Legislation to Clarify Taxation of Property Management Contracts

Posted June 26, 2019

The North Carolina Senate this week advanced legislation supported by REBIC, the North Carolina Association of Realtors® (NCR), NAIOP Charlotte, and other industry trade groups that would clarify that residential and commercial Property Management agreements are largely not subject to the state’s Repair, Maintenance & Installation (RMI) sales tax.

SB 523 — Revenue Laws Clarifying & Administrative Changes, passed the Senate on Thursday with an amendment that requires Property Management companies to charge and remit RMI sales tax only in the following circumstances:

  1. They provide repair, maintenance, installation services for an additional charge above what is stated in the management contract.
  2. They arrange for a third party to provide the repair, maintenance, and installation services and impose an additional charge for arranging these services.
  3. More than twenty-five percent (25%) of the time spent managing an individual real property during a billing or invoice period is attributable to taxable repair, maintenance, and installation services. The property manager can voluntarily provide a written affidavit to attest that no more than 25% of their services on a given property constitute taxable RMI services, which would clear them of liability for taxation on any portion of the contract amount.
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Day at the State Capitol Comes to Raleigh

Posted June 26, 2019

NAIOP works with chapters to engage with state leaders on legislative proposals and policies that impact commercial real estate. A key event in many states is a “Day at the Capitol,” which gives members the opportunity to meet state policymakers and discuss important issues.

Members of NAIOP’s three North Carolina chapters (Charlotte, North Carolina Piedmont Triad and Raleigh Durham) converged in Raleigh to take part in the annual event. They discussed topics that are important to NAIOP North Carolina including economic development, tax reform and regulatory reform. For example, the state alliance is supporting a legislative effort to clarify that property management fees on service contracts (general repair and maintenance) are not subject to the sales and use tax.

NAIOP North Carolina also hosted a breakfast for more than 30 members and officials. Several state legislators attended the event to learn more about NAIOP and its legislative priorities.

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REBIC, Home Builders Meet with Cabarrus County Staff on Proposed Fee Increases

Posted June 25, 2019

 

This past Wednesday, REBIC and representatives from the Cabarrus Chapter of the Greater Charlotte HBA met with Cabarrus County Planning staff to discuss a recent proposal to increase planning, zoning, and some building inspection fees. The increases would impact both commercial and residential zonings in unincorporated Cabarrus County, as well as construction projects countywide. 

Staff has proposed that these new fees will go into effect starting January 1, 2020. Along with changes in the cost of permit fees, staff is also proposing changing new construction permits to a single permit. Many of the changes result from a shift from a fee structure based on estimation of cost per project, to one based on square footage.

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