Commercial Real Estate News Brief: October 2015

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In the latest edition of our monthly news brief, JLL’s regional team curates the top industry articles to keep you in-the-know. In this month’s edition, JLL spotlights urban sustainability, Cincinnati’s hottest new metroplex and foreign investors purchasing CRE in the U.S.

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Internationally, Cities Prioritize Sustainability

More cities are growing upwards. Above is the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia.

More cities are growing upwards. Above is the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia.

New developments show that cities are becoming more sustainable, more technologically connected, and less congested. According to JLL Research, cities across the globe are working to create safer, cleaner and more ecofriendly urban spaces.

Below are four trends impacting the future of our cities. See the full article from Real Views for details.

  1. Go even greener. In an effort to clean city air and aid food supply, city developers are converting public areas, rooftops and building walls into green space. Across the globe, city gardens, orchards and parks are cropping up in unique metropolitan spaces. Some international cities, such as Linz, Austria and Toronto, Canada have even mandated new residential and commercial buildings feature green rooftops.
  2. Traffic jams are the worst. They are annoying, dangerous, noisy and add to air pollution. To combat traffic issues, some cities have started car-sharing initiatives, while others have legalized the operation of electric cars. Last month, Moscow opened its first electric car charging station.
  3. The sky’s the limit. Urban sprawl scales upward. According to JLL, cities are dominating more real estate in the sky. One example is Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower, which reaches 3,280 feet tall.
  4. Emphasis on connectivity. Our cities could soon connect us to data. The city of Santander, Spain has established 15,000 sensors to collect environmental data including carbon dioxide, humidity, traffic and noise levels.

Foreign Investors Show Record Interest in U.S. Real Estate

According to an RCA report, “cross-border investors are generating record numbers … and are now the dominant source of commercial real estate deals in the U.S.”

Investors are being driven by a various economic factors, including regulatory changes, an emphasis on acquiring a diverse portfolio, and growing confidence in American real estate. According to Bisnow, the top five foreign CRE investors are:

  1. GIC (Government of Singapore) & Global Logistic Properties
  2. Norges Bank (Norway)
  3. Caisse de Depot (Canada)
  4. Brookfield AM (Canada)
  5. Anbang Insurance Group (China)

While international investors have historically focused portfolios in primary markets, their interest has increasingly shifted to smaller cities, including those in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

The Long-Awaited Liberty Town Center Is Officially Open 

Liberty Center, a mixed-use metroplex, opened last month between thriving markets Cincinnati and Dayton. The grand opening kicked off on October 22 with live music, yoga, a firework show and more.

The 100-acre center, valued at $350 million, features retail, restaurant, hotel and residential space. The center’s next phase of development is expected to start within the next 18 months.

Liberty Center

JLL experts suggest Liberty Center is just a preview of more developments ahead for Southern Ohio. According to federal data, “the Cincinnati metropolitan area’s economy grew the fastest among major cities in the Midwest.”

CRE News Wrap-Up in Our Region  


  • Investor interest continues to grow in Cincinnati’s marketplace. Office buildings in Cincinnati suburbs, including Blue Ash and Sharonville, reached $192 million in sales during the third quarter of 2015.
  • IDI Gazeley will develop a 1 million-square-foot facility in Greater Cincinnati, making it the largest-ever speculative industrial building” in the city. The $40 million facility, located at Park North at Monroe, will feature 23 acres of space.


  • The Downtown Commission approved a major office, apartment and luxury hotel project at 77 E. Nationwide Blvd. The office and apartment complex will comprise 3.6 acres of West Nationwide Boulevard at the Olentangy River.
  • RiverSouth in downtown Columbus could soon feature a $12 million apartment project at 303 S. Front St., in an area that has had recently momentum in residential development. This location was formerly the Red Zone nightclub. 


  • The former Penton Media Center office building will soon feature new signage: AECOM. The Los Angeles-based company, AECOM Technology Corp., signed on for more than two floors at the 1300 E. Ninth St. in an effort to consolidate its three Cleveland offices.
  • Neubert Painting, which has been located in Lakewood for 25 years, will soon relocate to Brook Park at 15401 Commerce Park Road. The company will move into a 15,000 square-foot building valued at $525,000, doubling the company’s footprint.


  • Chinese investment company, DDI Group, is selling its remaining building in downtown Detroit – the former Detroit Free Press HQ building at 321 W. Lafayette Blvd. Now titled the Press Club Building, the asking price is set at $16 million.
  • The state of Michigan approved a $4.1 million private bond for manufacturer Packaging Specialties Inc. The company will move its production facility to a larger site in Romulus.


  • PNC unveiled its new corporate headquarters at The Tower at PNC Plaza. The new 33-story, $400 million, tower began construction three years ago and will welcome its 2,200 employees in the coming months.
  • Virginia-based AES Corp. closed its small coal plant in Monaca two years early, “having failed to secure a buyer for its electricity,” according to the Post-Gazette. The company considered switching the 125-megawatt plant to run on natural gas, but could not locate a buyer for its energy.

Keep up with trends and relevant commercial real estate news throughout the Midwest on Twitter at @JLL_Spaces!


Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Ahmed Rabea