Online Grocery Sales Drive Massive Demand for Cold Storage Development in U.S.

According to a new report from CBRE, the growth of online grocery sales has the U.S. market for cold-storage warehouses poised for strong growth, potentially creating demand for up to 100 million sq. ft. of industrial cold-storage space over the next five years. That forecast stems from a projection by the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen that groceries ordered online will account for 13% of total grocery sales by 2022, up from 3 percent in 2018. Such growth would amount to an additional $100 billion in annual grocery sales conducted online. This outlook portends significant changes for the industrial cold-storage industry, which at 3.6 billion cubic feet (an estimated 214 million sq. ft.) currently accounts for a tiny portion of U.S. industrial-and-logistics real estate overall. Click to read more at

U.S. Finance Execs Hold on to Positivity

U.S. business leaders remained significantly more confident in the domestic economy than the global economy, but the gap narrowed slightly in the second-quarter Business & Industry Economic Outlook Survey released Thursday by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. The survey’s CPA Outlook Index (CPAOI) dipped one point to 75 out of 100, reflecting slight easing in expansion, revenue, and profit expectations. The index peaked at 81 in the first quarter of 2018. The most recent survey, conducted in May, included 785 responses from CPA decision-makers such as CFOs, CEOs, and controllers. Fifty-seven percent of respondents were optimistic about the U.S. economy, consistent with the first quarter. Their views were boosted in part by lower taxes and less regulatory burden. Click to read more at

ART & HEART: San Antonio Property Offers Unique Development Potential

River frontage. Incredible access. Dynamic area. Unlimited opportunity. It’s rare to find those attributes in a single property, but 530 Steves Ave. in San Antonio boasts all of them. “It is a ready-to-go development site that will
accommodate any number of uses, depending on what the developer wants to do,” says Steves Rosser, senior vice president at DH Realty Partners, the largest locally owned commercial real estate firm in the city. But, wait. Steves Rosser is representing a property on Steves Ave.? “It’s not my road, no, I don’t own it,” Rosser laughs. “I do have family ties that date well back in San Antonio’s history and that street is named for them. The Steves homestead can be found in the King William neighborhood. It was built by my great-great-grandparents and is now a living history museum.” Click to read more at

The Future of the Parking Garage

By Rand Stephens (Houston)

It is no longer a matter of “if” driverless cars will be on the road, it’s a matter of “when.” And, that “when” is sooner than most people think. Some grocery stores in the Houston area are already delivering groceries to homes using autonomous vehicles and in June, METRO along with Texas Southern University (TSU), will launch Phase 1 of their first driverless vehicle dubbed Generation 2. It won’t be long before private autonomous vehicles hit the road. Personal mobility will have implications reaching beyond the automotive industry. Some speculate that the parking landscape in metro areas will be fundamentally restructured, which can lead to new challenges and opportunities for commercial real estate.

Theoretically, a driverless car will rarely need to park because it will drop off passengers at their destination, then drive off to pick up another passenger or collect your groceries. Street parking could be replaced with drop-off/pick-up zones, and parking garages could become “urban mobility hubs” where autonomous vehicles will refuel, recharge and undergo cleaning and maintenance. All this is still dependent on how many will actually use this new technology. We know it’s coming, but it will be a while before it becomes an actual way of life. Cell phones have been around for a couple of decades, but not everyone has given up their land line yet.

Almost 160,000 people work in Downtown Houston and roughly 60% drive to work. There are approximately 100,000 parking spaces in 42 existing properties classified as parking garages in the Central Business District, totaling 10,190,359 square feet.

With the population growth on the rise, it’s hard to imagine that parking areas will become obsolete. And, adaptive re-use of parking garages is much too costly. Some estimate it can cost as much as $90 to $100 per square foot. It would make more sense to tear it down.

It will be a gradual transition. It is likely to start with transforming street parking into mobility drop-off/pick-up spots, delivery zones, etc. Perhaps that will be the next “must have” amenity that tenants will be looking for. Parking lease clauses will be augmented with language providing for mobility usage that ensures building and garage access by autonomous electric vehicles. It will be interesting to see how developers, landlords, tenants and brokers will respond to this transportation revolution and what innovative solutions will emerge.

(Rand Stephens is a Principal of Avison Young and Managing Director of the company’s Houston office.)

Imminent Eminent Domain: What The Future of Texas Central Means for Property Owners Along Its Route

We are pleased to issue guidance that provides Texas Central Partners’ pitch to build a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston is polarizing. The 240-mile route could be traveled in less than 90 minutes, offering a new option for the nearly 50,000 Texans who commute between the two cities more than once each week. While the first-of-its-kind project has faced considerable opposition, it also has many supporters in the public and Texas Legislature. “They have more than $450 million dollars of funding lined up and they’ve already acquired more than 30 percent of the right of way that they need,” says attorney David Showalter of Richmond’s Showalter Law Firm, which represents landowners and stays abreast of
projects that have the potential to impact property owners around the state. “They’re well on their way to having everything in place to start their project.” Click to read more at

Real Estate Lures Investors as Safe Haven Among Trade War

Amid the stock market volatility fueled by the drama of U.S.-China trade negotiations, real-estate stocks and ETFs beckon investors as a relatively safe haven. The Vanguard Real Estate ETF (VNQ +0.9%) has risen 16% YTD, outperforming the S&P 500’s 13% increase during the same time period; and in the past month, the ETF is up 1.3% while the S&P 500 has declined 2.2%. Click to read more at