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December 11, 2014

Survey -- Harsch Investment Properties

Photo by Mike Jenson [enlarge]
Harsch is redeveloping the Plaza 520 Business Park in Bellevue.

Specialty: Regional, family-owned company that manages more than 21 million square feet of industrial, office, retail and multifamily properties

Management: Rob Aigner, senior vice president and regional manager

Founded: 1951

Headquarters: Portland

Projects: Redevelopment of Celebration Center in Federal Way; redevelopment of Plaza 520 in Bellevue

Rob Aigner, senior vice president at Harsch, answered questions about the commercial real estate industry and what is affecting his firm.

Q: Harsch has a wide-ranging portfolio in the West. Are there any regions that are performing exceptionally well?

A: All of our regions are performing better than the same period last year. Depending on the geographical region, anywhere from a 4 percent to 10 percent overall occupancy gain would be indicative of the improvement. Our gains have been reflective of the overall increase and strength of the economy in conjunction with the gains made within the home building industry.

The regions that have made the largest improvement are the East Bay and Las Vegas markets due to renewed confidence in the economy.

Q: What are some larger trends that are influencing your choices about where and in which sectors to invest?

A: Our strength lies in the ownership and management of multi-tenant industrial facilities that tend to house numerous tenants oriented around small business. As credit facilities have eased for the small business owner, we have seen a renewed optimism for the future and a corresponding increase in traffic and leases at all of our industrial and incubator parks. We see this trend continuing.

Additionally, we have branched out into geographic areas where we have previously not been located. An example of this is our recent acquisitions in the Salt Lake City market.

Q: In Seattle, which sectors have been particularly attractive?

A: Our interest in Seattle is driven by the industrial multi-tenant opportunities that on the surface look like a management headache due to the sheer number of tenants within any particular project. Therefore, we look actively within the south end, Kent Valley market, as well as the close-in market where we already have a dedicated presence.

Q: What trends in Seattle are benefiting your business?

A: With Seattle’s natural beauty and global reputation for growing and maintaining quality companies and an educated work force, we believe that Seattle’s rising tide raises all ships. All of our tenants are concerned about time to market, commute times, and infrastructure issues, which drive their basic location decisions. Seattle’s desire to continue to focus on family wage jobs as a primary force in the economy benefits us, as many of these jobs are housed within our facilities.

Q: What do you plan to do in the near future to capitalize on such trends?

A: We will continue to invest in the region because we are optimistic about Seattle’s future and the positioning of the Port of Seattle within the global economy.

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