Louisville Commercial Real Estate Summit: Prepping for a big, busy 2022

A big, busy 2022. That’s what the attendees at REjournals’ Louisville Commercial Real Estate Summit expect. And that’s why there was so much optimism at the event held Sept. 15 at the Olmsted in Louisville.

More than 100 CRE professionals from the Louisville market attended the event, focusing on the struggles brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the bright future that they expect for this market throughout the rest of 2021 and into 2022.

The optimism seems justified. Louisville’s CRE market has held its own throughout the pandemic. And both the multifamily and industrial sectors here have been thriving. And while office and retail have seen challenges, summit attendees expressed hope that both sectors will see better times in 2022.

Participating in development panel were Emily Liu, Director, Louisville Metro Planning & Design Services; Earl Winebrenner III, Managing Member, Winebrenner Capital Management, LLC, who served as moderator; Cyndi Whitmer MBA, CCIM, Appraiser, Integra Realty Resources, WCRE Louisville Chapter; and John Fisher, Managing Member, FISHER’s Real Estate Brokerage & Betterment Haus, LLC.

The developer panel had good news to share, too. It’s true that, as panelists said, developers still face challenges. Most notably, lead times are long on key building materials and these materials are more expensive today. At the same time, it’s not always easy, too, to find the labor needed for bigger development projects.

But on the positive side, panelists said that development in the Louisville market continued throughout the pandemic, thanks in part to construction being tabbed as an essential industry. Panelists said that they expect an even busier 2022 when it comes to construction, another bit of positive news at the summit.

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Members of the Louisville Market Sector panel included David Hardy, Managing Director, CBRE; Justin Brown, Managing Partner, Lucia Partners; Charlotte Hollkamp, Managing Partner, Nexus Commercial Advisors; Steve Gray, President/Senior Director of Industrial, Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Kentucky; and moderator Frank Kalmbach, Director of Finance & Operations, Louisville Downtown Partnership.

The news from this panel? It wasn’t surprising. Industrial continues to thrive in Louisville as it has throughout much of the country. People have flocked to online shopping during the pandemic, and this has boosted the fortunes of the industrial sector. Consumers want their products delivered ever faster, inspiring companies to open new distribution facilities and warehouses across the country. Louisville’s location in the center of the country has made the city an attractive destination for industrial users.

Retailers have had to adapt to changing customer needs, and panelists said that the most successful retailers pivoted quickly during the pandemic, boosting their online capabilities and offering quick delivery and curbside pickup. Many of these changes will remain after the pandemic fades, panelists predicted.

And the office market? It is in flux in Louisville as it is throughout the country. There was hope that more companies would bring their workers back to the office starting in September. The Delta variant, though, has pushed that back. Office users are continuing, then, to wrestle with how many of their employees will return to the office on a full-time basis and how many will return only in hybrid mode.

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The multifamily panel featured Brian Evans, vice president, Cityscape Residential, who also served as moderator; Craig Collins, Senior Director, Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Kentucky; Adal Yousef, CFO/Partner, Denton Floyd Real Estate Group; Greg Solomos, Senior Vice President, Bellwether Enterprise; and Steve LaMotte Jr, Executive Vice President, CBRE/Central Midwest Multifamily.

This sector, too, has been strong throughout the pandemic in Louisville. As in other markets, apartment vacancies remained low in Louisville throughout the pandemic, while rent collections remained surprisingly high.

The multifamily market here is stronger, though, in suburban areas than it is in downtown Louisville. As in other major cities, some renters left downtown during the COVID-19 pandemic. This, though, is expected to be a blip, and the downtown apartment market is expected to rebound.

Several members of Women in Commercial Real Estate Louisville attended the summit, too. This included Jill Morzillo, field research analyst with CBRE (Far right, standing); Colleen Perkins, senior business development executive at CORT and president of WCRE Louisville (standing, middle); Cyndi Whitmer, commercial appraiser with Integra Realty Resources and a board member with WCRE; Kristy Inmon, business development with Miranda Construction (far right, seated); Melissa Cobb, business development with Signarama Downtown; and Genevieve Neller, business development manager with ABM (far left, seated).

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