Friday, May 16, 2008

Perfect Storm for Brownfield Redevelopment

One of the ironies of the current real estate market is that while lenders, investors, and developers have become more risk averse due to the shaky economy one formerly high-risk type of development, brownfield redevelopment in urban areas, has become a sort of industry darling and may be one of the easier types of development to get done in today's environment. In my opinion a perfect storm of macro-economic and social trends are making brownfield redevelopment highly attractive right now. These trends include:

  • Higher gasoline costs - dense infill redevelopment looks better and better as gas passes $4.00 per gallon
  • The green movement - more individuals, companies, and municipalities are focused on creating green and sustainable environments in which to live and work.
  • A re-urbanizing workforce - today's workforce is showing an increasing preference for urban living and many employers and retailers are re-urbanizing as well to be close to their employees or patrons.
  • Relatively inexpensive infill land - government incentives, reusable existing structures, in-place infrastructure, and a limited number of qualified buyers make brownfield sites price-competitive with greenfield land.
  • Increasing comfort with environmental risks - developers, lenders, and investors have all become more comfortable with the ins-and-outs of environmental risks and rehabilitation.
The Hudson Yards redevelopment saga, currently ongoing in NYC, is a great case study in the current ups-and-downs of urban redevelopment, watching how it unfolds will be a great indicator of what can and can't be done with urban brownfield sites. One deal falls through, another pops up...

Llenrock Group

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