Nearly 400 people tuned in to last week’s Commercial Real Estate forum, held virtually.

The forum included presenting the Ivy College of Business CRE Professional of the Year Award to Kevin Crowley and a moment of silence in remembrance of Jan Berg, a veteran commercial real estate broker who died in early March.

In addition, 10 panelists discussed how they thought the current pandemic would affect their segment of the commercial real estate industry.

The panelists’ answers and video links to their responses follow:

Healthier buildings
Mark Rupprecht
President, R&R Realty Group

The pandemic has forced hundreds of businesses to quickly figure out how to make it possible for employees to work from home, Rupprecht said.

When workers return to the office, several things will likely change, he said. Employees will likely be concerned about how close they sit to fellow workers, something employers will have to figure out, he said. Employees will also be concerned about sanitation, Rupprecht said.

"Employees are going to be concerned about cleaning and sanitizing," he said. "Air quality and ventilation are going to be even more important. [Employers] are going to look at their systems and what they can do to bring more outside air [into the building].

"I think overall just this trend towards more of a healthy building … is what we'll see."

To hear all of Rupprecht’s comments, click here.


Smaller footprints

Derek Lord
Ankeny's economic development director

During the past couple of weeks, Lord said, he’s talked with about 20 of Ankeny’s largest employers about the long-term effects of employees working from home. Most said that after the crisis, workers will be provided more flexibility to be able to work from home, Lord said.

"I’ve also had companies tell me specifically that they’re anticipating when their lease is up that they’re going to reduce their footprint because they've been forced to learn how to allow employees to work from home," he said.

To hear all of Lord’s comments, click here.


Modifying loans

Jennifer Cooper
Vice president and manager of commercial real estate, 
Bankers Trust

Not surprisingly, hospitality and retail have been the hardest-hit sectors in the pandemic, Cooper said. Hotels have either closed or are operating with limited staff. The bank is working with those customers on modifying loans and deferring principal and interest payments, she said.

Most retail tenants did not pay rent in April, Cooper said. The bank is working with borrowers to tailor loan modifications to match when those payments resume.

"The ability to defer principal and interest payments and then to wrap repayment of that deferral, post COVID-19 shutdown, really depends on if the property can afford that additional debt service because it does increase either the balloon payment of the loan or the ongoing debt service," she said. "If we have a second wave … most of the underwriting we've done shows that these properties can withstand a lower cash flow but still be able to service that at that higher level."

To hear all of Cooper’s comments, click here.

Moving business online

Brandy Daniel
Vice president of business intelligence systems,
BH Management Services

The Des Moines-based company manages and owns thousands multifamily units nationwide. The company quickly moved to online rental payments, virtual leasing, contact-free resident verification and electronic renewals, Daniel said.

The move online allowed the company to continue provide "a certain level of service" for residents and prospective tenants, she said.

"I think that our new normal could move our listing teams further into more of a community ambassador kind of role that would allow them to cultivate groups within their specific communities and, and start to encourage book clubs and exercise clubs and bike riding clubs, cooking clubs, things like that," she said. "We've always known that cultivating these individual areas of interest would improve our resident lifestyle and improve our resident retention."

To hear all of Daniel’s comments, click here.

Development activity

Kyle Gamble
Senior vice president, managing director,
CBRE|Hubbell Commercial

Development activity has slowed but not stopped in the local market, Gamble said. What happens in the coming months, however, is yet to be determined, he said.

While tenants paid rents win April, from a development perspective, "we have to watch May, June and July," Gamble said.

"That will be a barometer for risk for us going forward and really will be a basis for our decision-making on timelines and whether a project is a go or no-go."

To hear all of Gamble's comments, click here.

Increased demand for industrial space

Jackie Johansen
Principal, Shattered Glass Development

The pandemic is accelerating – and expanding – the growing trend of ordering goods online, Johansen said.That increased demand is straining the global supply chain, she said.

One study showed that between March 13 and March 15 – when physical distancing began to be promoted nationwide – the grocery industry experienced a 100% increase in online sales, Johansen said.

The trend to buying groceries online will likely continue, she said.

"That equates to a really strong, growing demand for cold storage and cold chain logistics," Johansen said. "That demand is estimated to be between 75 to 100 million square feet across the country. So we're looking at a lot of growth in the industrial sector."

To hear all of Johansen’s comments, click here.

Impact on retail

Justin Lossner
Managing director, JLL

The latest economic forecasts Lossner said he’s seen indicate recovery will be bowl-shaped, meaning "you’re pretty flat for a while and then you scoop up a little bit and then you angle in a much more positive direction."

Economists say it could take three to eight months before the recovery begins, Lossner said.

"I think there’s still a lot of unknowns out there," he said. "But there are plenty of resilient sectors. There are other at-risk sectors that we think will tighten up in the shorter term. Keep a close eye on the anchor retailers. Neiman Marcus just came out a few days ago with a pretty big issue with missing a debt payment; J.C. Penney the week before that. That's really just [going to] expedite of some of the challenges that we've seen in the big anchor stores."

To hear all of Lossner’s comments, click here.

Construction workers

Mike Tousley
Executive vice president, general manager
Weitz Co.

The pandemic has prompted Weitz to implement new procedures designed to protect the health of employees, Tousley said.

Workers are asked twice a week to fill out questionnaires about their health, he said. When possible, workers stay at least 6 feet from each other. Meetings are held virtually or outdoors, with participants standing away from each other.

"We've increased the frequency by which we're cleaning certain things on-site," Tousley said. "Those common areas that seem to get a lot of traffic, we’ve increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting those areas. … The tools and equipment on-site … especially those tools that multiple people are using, are [cleaned frequently]. One thing we've not had to really focus on in the past is providing hand-washing and sanitizing stations. So our teams have gotten really creative in terms of how you provide that in a temporary basis."

To hear all of Tousley's comments, click here.


Residential land development 

Aimee Staudt
Vice president, director of development
Knapp Properties

Patience is key in the current economic environment, Staudt said.

While the land development market isn’t closed, it has slowed with some projects either delayed or dropped, she said.

"We still think there’s a good investment to be made if the developer’s financially able to develop at a more measured pace, maybe fewer lots at a time until the market rebounds more fully," Staudt said. "The new construction market for homes might be slow to return to the pace we had late last year. The fundamentals are still there. … If we can get people back to work and mortgage rates dropped a little bit more, the real estate market could be back to a strong pace fairly soon."
To hear all of Staudt's comments, click here.


Larger or smaller workplaces?

Collin Barnes
Partner, RDG Planning & Design

Barnes said there are two schools of thought on the future of the workplace: Spaces will get smaller as more people work remotely or they’ll get larger in an effort to space employees away from one another.

"If we are in a position where we need to allow for more square footage for each user, obviously those gathering spaces and meeting spaces are going to get larger," she said. "We may even see a resurgence in the need for a private office so that people have that individualized control of their space."

To hear all of Barnes’ comments, click here.

Annual Real Estate Magazine

The Business Record's 2020 Annual Real Estate Magazine was released last week.

The magazine includes stories of five segments of the real estate market, trends to watch for in 2020, market facts, featured property listings and 2019’s top commercial deals.

To learn more about the magazine and to view samples of the content in the magazine, go to

In addition, the full videos of all the roundtables and the articles are available online for members.