Tag Archives: vacancy rate

Medical Marijuana Where Will The Dispensaries Go

Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Proposition Passes, But Where Will The Dispensaries Go?

Arizona voters made history again this month, narrowly approving Proposition 203, the ballot initiative allowing one medical marijuana dispensary for every 10 pharmacies in the state (which translates to about 120 statewide). Under Prop. 203, patients suffering from a wide range of painful medical conditions will be able to buy small amounts of marijuana from state-approved dispensaries with a doctor’s prescription. Those living more than 25 miles from an outlet will be allowed to grow their own.

Needless to say, residents, cities and landlords are facing some interesting dilemmas before the first outlets potentially open in March 2011 … in a neighborhood near you.

Under the approved Prop. 203, the Arizona Department of Health Services must issue licenses to the so-called “medical marijuana clinics,” but it’s the local municipalities that must adopt zoning restrictions that regulate the size and location of such clinics. Cities are expressly forbidden under Prop. 203 from prohibiting them outright.

So who will ultimately win the “Not In My Back Yard” tug-of-war? Cities such as Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa, are grappling with commercial landlords, their constituents and zoning restrictions to keep the centers away from schools, churches and residential areas.

On the commercial real estate front, with the marketplace hard hit by the recession and Phoenix retail vacancy rates at 13 percent, many landlords are looking to fill empty space. But tenants such as medical marijuana clinics would cause some considerable controversy with residential neighbors and fellow commercial tenants.

“There are some landlords that will definitely have an issue with it,” said Pete Bolton, executive vice president and managing director of the commercial real estate brokerage firm Grubb & Ellis in Phoenix.

He expects dispensary operators to seek retail center locations with public exposure and easy parking. But, he added that some commercial landlords are hesitant to sign a marijuana outlet, especially if they have other tenants that cater to families or conservative customers.

Prior to the ballot passing, a number of nonprofit groups already were eying Phoenix-area shopping centers as possible dispensary locations. Even before the election earlier this month, more than 14 medical marijuana groups had reserved business names with the Arizona Corporation Commission. Some others were incorporating and looking for investors, dispensary locations and even growing sites.

Marketing manager for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries of Arizona Inc., Allan Sobol, says that like any other business, location is key.

“I want to be at a high-exposure location. I envision them just being like a CVS or Walgreens,” Sobol said.

He expects most marijuana outlets will be located in strip malls and other high-traffic locations near hospitals and medical centers. But with the dispensaries intermingled with other more conservative businesses, there could be some concerns.

So landlords will have some choices to make, and for Arizona cities facing these same dilemmas, the clock is ticking. Mesa, like Phoenix, will likely vote on where to locate the dispensaries by the end of the year.

This is likely the first time in history that a Mesa mayor has ever joked about collecting sales taxes on bongs or marijuana paraphernalia. But then, it’s probably also the first time in history that Mesa has come face-to-face with the prospect of stores legally selling marijuana. Given its size, Mesa could land between eight and 10 of the 120 dispensaries.

“This is not something we can prohibit,” Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said during a city council study session last month.

Under its proposed zoning regulations, Mesa would limit the dispensaries from residential, industrial and employment areas. Also, they could not locate within 2,400 feet of other medicinal marijuana shops and drug/alcohol rehab facilities. They would have to stay 1,200 feet away from churches, parks, open spaces in homeowner associations and libraries. They could be no closer than 500 feet from schools or group homes for the handicapped.

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble says cities need to act fast.

“Cities can’t wait,” he said. “If they don’t get it done in time, I’ve got no choice but to approve a dispensary if they don’t have a zoning restriction in place.”

In other words, the state bureaucrats will act if the mayors and councils haven’t.

So, while a razor thin majority celebrates the approval of Prop. 203, mayors and city councils around the state not only must act fast, but also wrestle with moral, political and economic issues before the first medical marijuana clinic opens on a corner — possibly in your neighborhood.

Sluggish Demand for Office Space in Phoenix

Sluggish Demand for Office Space in Metro Phoenix Continues

The Phoenix office market continued to feel the effects of a sluggish and wavering economy, according to Cassidy Turley BRE Commercial’s 3Q 2010 office market trends report released today.

Economic indicators remain mixed causing uncertainty as to whether our economy is headed into a “double dip” recession or a period of slow growth. The best word to describe market conditions during the third quarter is flat. Net absorption was negative for the second time this year and the overall vacancy rate increased 30 basis points to finish at an all-time high of 27.9%.

Tempe/South Chandler and 44th Street Corridor posted the largest gains in net absorption; collectively they gained more than 257,590 SF in the third quarter. Downtown North and Airport Area were the two submarkets with the largest declines in occupancy; they collectively lost 221,927 SF during the third quarter. The majority of leasing activity has been in space that is an upgrade to the tenant’s prior location, otherwise known as “flight to quality.”

This has been a trend for several quarters, as nearly all positive absorption, both the quarter and year-to-date, have come from either Class A buildings or new construction. Class A average asking rates continue
to decline as landlords compete for tenants by offering heavy concessions and discounted rates. Class A rental rates dropped nearly 2 percent in the third quarter to finish at $25.07.

With the extreme over-supply of space, overall asking rental rates will continue to soften but at a slower pace and should reach bottom within the next 12 months. Office market leasing is likely to remain flat through 2010 and improve gradually into 2011 as businesses start to add jobs and tenants take advantage of reduced rates. Landlords that have weathered the recession, remained financially strong and adjusted to current market conditions should start to see some relief as tenant demand gradually improves.

With large blocks of premium office space available, lower rental rates, a high quality of life, affordable housing and great weather, Metro Phoenix is positioned to attract companies looking to relocate or add to their current operations. These factors should improve leasing and owner occupant demand bringing some relief to the office sector.

Vacancy Rising in Phoenix

Vacancy Rising In Phoenix Despite Construction Pullback

Though employment growth will stimulate an increase in retail sales in 2010, the job additions will not be sufficient to prevent the vacancy rate in Phoenix from rising for the fifth consecutive year, according to the latest Retail Research market update from Marcus & Millichap.

Unlike previous years when excessive construction drove vacancy increases, lagging demand has become the anchor on the market. The pace of store closures clearly has slowed, but too few retailers have emerged to open new locations in the vacant space that has amassed. With the vacancy rate nearing its highest level in 20 years, rents continue to fall as tenants exercise the upper hand in discussions with owners.

Rents have yet to settle at a new, lower market level and may not reach their low point until late next year. The upside of reduced rents, however, has been a sharp decline in construction, as many projects simply no longer pencil for developers. After deliveries averaged 5.5 million square feet of new space each year during the past decade, a fraction of that total will come online in 2010.

Although the slowdown in construction represents a positive trend in a market with frequent overbuilding spells, the lack of properties under construction will restrain sales of new single-tenant, net-leased assets. As in other markets around the country, single-tenant properties net-leased to top-rated corporate tenants generate intense bidding when listed. In fact, cap rates for nationally branded drugstores and fast-food properties have fallen about 50 basis points since early this year to around 7 percent, with ground leases commanding even lower first-year returns.

In the multi-tenant segment, buyers have intensified searches for suitable listings, but the ongoing reduction in rents continues to present challenges to arriving at valuations upon which owners and prospective buyers can agree. Current underwriting assumes additional increases in vacancy and further rent reductions, such that cap rates must vary from 10 percent to 11 percent to generate bids. Among specific properties, those with tenants that signed leases at the peak of the market
in 2006 and 2007 invariably face the prospect of re-leasing space at substantially lower rents when leases expire.

2010 Annual Retail Forecast

Employment: Government employment will decline over the second half due to the termination of census jobs and budget constraints at the state and local levels, while private
sector employers will hire conservatively. As a result, total employment will expand 0.8 percent in 2010, or by 13,700 jobs. Last year, 116,000 positions were cut.
Construction: Developers will complete 500,000 square feet of space this year, the lowest annual total in 30 years. In 2009, approximately 2.9 million square feet came online. Planned projects total 28 million square feet, although none has a scheduled start date.
Vacancy: The vacancy rate will increase 70 basis points this year to 12.6 percent, as store closures and a lack of new demand will result in negative net absorption of 721,000 square feet. Vacancy spiked 260 basis points last year and most recently surpassed 12 percent, a level last reached in 1991.
Rents: This year, asking rents will decrease 1.3 percent to $18.11 per square foot, following a 5.5 percent dip in 2009. Effective rents will slide 2.6 percent to $15.13 per square foot, compared with a 9.1 percent drop last year.

3rd Quarter Figures Upbeat for Retail and Market Sector

3Q Figures Upbeat For Office, Industrial & Retail Market Sectors

The Arizona economy has marked some improvement and is much better than the public perceives, according to the Third Quarter 2010 Economic Outlook released by the Forecasting Project at the University of Arizona.

However, the report also states that will it will take some time for many Arizonans to recognize the improvement in the state’s economy and to repair the damage done by the recession. Estimates are that it will be 2013 or early 2014 before all the damage that occurred during the recession is repaired. The long-term forecast is for nation-leading growth to return to Arizona.

There was also some positive news in the CB Richard Ellis Third Quarter 2010 Analysis of Metro Phoenix Office, Industrial and Retail Markets. Highlights included:

Office: After 12 consecutive quarterly increases, the office market vacancy rate remained unchanged from the second quarter, at 25.9 percent. While the full service average asking lease rate for office space has leveled off in 2010, it has fallen 12.5 percent in the past two years, from $25.44 per square foot in third quarter 2008 to $22.25 per square foot today.

Absorption for the year is 147,610 square feet, with gross activity of 4.3 million square feet. This compares with negative absorption of 897,916 square feet and gross activity of 2.9 million square feet at the same time last year. An increasing supply of office sublease space continues to impact the absorption of direct space. There was 2.2 million square feet of available sublease space at the end of the third quarter compared to 2 million square feet one year ago.

Industrial: Through the first three quarters of 2010, the Metro Phoenix industrial market had positive absorption of 2.6 million square feet. Leading the way was the Southwest submarket, with more than 3.4 million square feet of positive absorption year-to-date. The industrial market vacancy rate decreased for the second consecutive quarter, dropping from 16.4 percent at the end of the first quarter to 15.3 percent today. One year ago the vacancy rate was 15.8 percent.

The net direct average asking lease rate for existing industrial product remained relatively unchanged during the past three months, ending the third quarter at $0.54 per square foot. However, in the last year the rate has dropped 5.3 percent. While there is 619,800 square feet of industrial product under construction, it consists entirely of build-to-suit projects. No speculative developments broke ground in the third quarter. This trend is expected to continue due to the challenging financial market and the glut of space.

Retail: The retail market experienced positive absorption in the third quarter, posting 83,491 square feet. This was the first time in seven consecutive quarters that the metro area reported more retail space was gained than lost. Vacancy increased slightly in the third quarter, from 12.2 percent to 12.3 percent. In comparison, the retail vacancy rate one year ago was 10.9 percent.

The average net asking lease rate for existing retail centers has declined 9.4 percent since the end of 2009, dropping from $17.33 per square foot to $15.71 per square foot at the end of the third quarter. The large supply of available big box space continues to weigh heavily on the Phoenix area retail market. Currently there are 303 spaces greater than 10,000 square feet, totaling 8.2 million square feet. The majority, 34 percent, can be found in the Mesa/Chandler/Gilbert submarket, with 2.8 million square feet of space.