The Memphis Area Association of Realtors Commercial Council held its annual board of directors meeting Thursday, approving three new members for its 2011 board.
Greg deWitt of Grubb & Ellis Co. will take over one of the council’s director seats next year before becoming the council’s vice president in 2012. He will inherit the seat occupied by John Mercer of Highwoods Properties in 2011.
Also joining the board are Jim Beaty of CBRE’s Capital Markets group and Bradley Wilford of Boyle Investment Co., each of whom will take on two-year director positions. The new positions are effective Jan. 1.
Commercial real estate’s struggles of late have underscored the importance of MAAR’s Commercial Council, an organization that helps members navigate the market’s tricky landscape, DeWitt said.
“The Commercial Council is an important organization highlighting the commercial side of our business,” he said. “Sometimes the much larger residential side of MAAR can overshadow the needs and concerns of the commercial side. We hope to bring some recognition to these groups.”
Other changes to the council in 2011 will include president-elect Ron Riley of In-Rel Management Inc. taking over for 2010 president Wyatt Aiken of Commercial Advisors LLC. Aiken will remain on the board as immediate past president.
Also returning as officers and directors for 2011 will be Scott Barton of CBRE; Tanis Hackmeyer of Hackmeyer Properties/Hackmeyer Realty; Dawn Barber of Makowsky Ringel Greenberg LLC; Bob Turner of Southern Properties LLC; Steve Guinn of Highwoods Properties; Eric Fuhrman of Investec Realty Services LLC; and J. Hickman of Colliers International Management Services.
Barton, senior vice president for retail services for CBRE, presided over Thursday’s election. He said the council expects several hot issues to emerge in the coming year.
One will be what to do with vacant retail space along Winchester Road. A growing number of properties there are becoming obsolete, and the question will be whether to keep the space as retail or zone it for other use.
Another area of concern is industrial space, typically considered Memphis’ bread-and-butter commercial sector.
“Large blocks of industrial space are now off the market, leaving fewer options for large users,” Barton said. “New space will need to be created. The questions are: where? when? and how?
“The ‘how’ will be with anchor tenants in place along with additional retailers. The ‘where’ and ‘when’ will be determined. The retail market is just not ripe for spec development right now. Deals must be end-user driven in order to get financing.”
Another issue facing CRE in the coming months and years is lack of capital. That will continue to be a big problem across the board, especially for office, industrial and investment sales. In general, investors are finding it more difficult to buy properties because they are forced to put more equity into deals and they have less leverage.