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View our December Newsletter: The “Retail Apocalypse” Is Not Among Us All
View our December Newsletter: The “Retail Apocalypse” Is Not Among Us All
“The Retail Apocalypse” is a great catch phrase that grabs attention. News outlets make sensational claims that Amazon is destroying the retail sector and that, across the board, retail real estate is in big trouble. These claims are overstated and misguided. The retail industry isn’t dying, but rather evolving. The following article will explore three topics: retail real estate that is in trouble, retail real estate that is well positioned and the perceived 400-pound gorilla in the room, Amazon.
Enclosed malls are facing the most trouble right now. While foot traffic in enclosed malls continues to decline1, the significant operating expenses from expansive common areas remain. Assets in secondary and tertiary markets are particularly at risk. Businesses most affected by the retail apocalypse are retail clothing and electronic stores in enclosed malls. We will see malls close soon. However, many malls will be reinvented with new and innovative uses. Across the country we are already seeing “dead malls” get new life with unique uses such as: satellite college campuses, sports complexes, multifamily, etc. The Google Glass headquarters occupies a 500,000-square foot office that was previously an abandoned mall in Mountain View, California. Locally, Mylan Pharmaceuticals was recently approved for a 24,000-square foot lab in the former JC Penny at the Mountaineer Mall. Enclosed malls are in the most trouble, but have significant opportunity for reinvention.
Retail sectors that remain healthy include: single tenant properties (free standing businesses such as banks, fast food, convenience store, etc), neighborhood retail (including grocery stores), power centers (developments with home improvement/ Walmart as anchors), and strip centers. Think about some of your local retail strip centers. How many of the tenants are truly threatened by Amazon? Many, if not all, of the tenants are service providers: medical, financial, insurance, restaurant, cell phone store, hair salon, etc. Even if the few retail users within a strip center leave, conversion to the next use is fairly easy.
Amazon and the growth of online shopping have certainly affected the retail landscape and hurt some sectors. However, only 8.5% of retail sales take place online. Amazon only accounts for 1.5% of the retail sales in the US2. In fact, most retail sales still occur in brick and mortar stores. A bigger factor than Amazon is changing consumer preferences. In 2016, for the first time ever Americans spent more eating out and at bars than on groceries. Americans’, especially millennials, crave experiences over material goods. Millennials spend less on clothing and more on dining, concerts, and travel. Naturally, clothing retailers are going to feel the pain of these changing consumer demands.
Creative destruction is a perpetual force. Just as Netflix destroyed Blockbuster, we are seeing some retail industries being destroyed. However, the decline in one industry creates opportunity and space for new businesses concepts to satisfy new consumer needs. Visionary developers will find solutions based on what the market demands.
MORGANTOWN — Defense In Depth, a new firearms education/training center and retailer in Morgantown, aims to cater to the needs of new and experienced shooters alike with its state-of-the-art facility.
Located in Sabraton Plaza, Defense In Depth is a 20,000-square-foot, $11 million center featuring a 75-foot long indoor gun range with 16 lanes, classrooms, a 30-foot long computer simulation screen and retail showroom.
In the end, Leech said they wanted the business to focus on education, training and situational awareness regarding firearms, with actual gun sales being thrown into the mix last.
“You can buy a piano or a guitar, but that doesn’t mean you know how to play. The same thing applies with guns,” Leech said. He noted that Defense In Depth will offer friendly expert advice regardless of a shooter’s level of experience so they feel comfortable and can improve.
Leech said Defense In Depth has 26 specialists on hand, all of whom have experience working with firearms via the military, law enforcement and other agencies. He said 2,000 job applications were filed and of the 26 who were hired, they bring a collective 300 years of experience.
Brett Wingard, one of the range safety officers, has trained more than 10,000 Boy Scouts in the use of firearms.
Lew Soccorsi, Defense In Depth’s general manager and director of training, said the ultimate goal of any situation is to avoid conflict. However, that isn’t always an option, which is why the center focuses just as much emphasis on when and when not to use a firearm as much as how to use one.
These lessons can be brought to life on the Ti Training simulator, which has more than 800 scenarios and 30,000 potential outcomes. Adding to atmosphere is the use of actual firearms that have been tweaked to fire compressed air, generating actual recoil. New scenarios can be generated simply by taking a photo of a real place and integrating it with the simulation system.
“It takes away the first-time jitters for people that never held a gun and its fun, kind of like a video game,” he said.
Soccorsi said Defense In Depth will host an active shooting information seminar from 11 a.m. to noon, and from 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m. on Dec. 2, and everyone is welcome.
During the 2012 mass shooting in a Colorado movie theater, he explained many people only had one option to keep their loved ones safe and that was to lay on top of them. Some died as a result.
“We are teaching another option,” Soccorsi said. “We see these tragedies on the news, but I don’t think we give them much thought as to how this might affect us in little old Morgantown.”
Soccorsi said 30 different classes will be held at Defense In Depth, including those for women led by a female instructors to those who have never held a firearm before.
Nick DeMedici, former Monongalia County deputy and state trooper, is the director of sales and training for the center. He said that personalized attention also applies to firearms sales.
Defense In Depth will work to make sure the shooter and the gun match up in terms of size and the role that gun is intended for. He added that guests can rent from the 130 firearms set aside for use on its indoor range. Among them is the Sig Sauer P320, the 9mm pistol recently ordered by the U.S. Army to replace its current stock of Berettas.
The range boasts a state-of-the-art ventilation system that removes lead particulates and the smell of burnt powder almost immediately. This, he said, allows shoppers to effectively test drive the guns they’re thinking about buying, something very few shops can provide. Various programmable settings means shooters can set up timed exercises in which the targets are shrouded in strobe lighting.
DeMedici said Defense In Depth has about $7 million worth of inventory up for sale — new guns, used guns, ammunition, holsters, magazines, rifle cases, targets, apparel and other accessories. Anything that isn’t available in the store, he said, can be viewed and ordered at their kiosk and shipped directly to the customer’s home.
Also on the retail floor is the workshop of gunsmith Malcolm Rogers, who can clean guns after patrons practice, customize their guns, re-barrel them for a different caliber and even take a look at guns that aren’t functioning to their full capacity.
“We can modify things in any way — as long as it’s safe — to make them more comfortable,” he said.
With the simulation setup, gun range, rental services, retail space and gunsmith all in one location, Soccorsi said there isn’t anything like it within 500 miles of Morgantown or the East Coast.
As a thank-you to veterans, military personnel, law enforcement and emergency service workers, Defense In Depth will have a soft opening day for them from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Nov. 28. The grand opening and ceremonial ribbon cutting will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 1. An entire month of opening specials, giveaways and events will follow.
by Conor Griffith STAFF WRITER. Click here to view this article at Theet.com
When David Lorenze was growing up in Morgantown, there were roughly a dozen restaurants to choose from in the whole town.
“Now, you have a dozen restaurants within a half-mile radius,” said Lorenze, principal at Black Diamond Realty. “The same holds true for retail.”
Growing almost as fast as shopping centers is the excitement as residents speculate on what new business may be opening soon.
Eldon Callen, vice president of Governmental Affairs, Community/Economic Development at the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce, said he has recently celebrated a number of grand openings, including Fusion Japanese Steakhouse, which has locations in Parkersburg and Wheeling, plus, Washington and Grove City, Pa.; and WV Box and Ship in Sabraton.
“There’s a whole new strip mall up there across from Suncrest Towne Centre that has MVB Bank, a new Starbucks and Penn Station East Coast Subs,” Callen said. “There are a number of things coming.”
Callen is always hesitant to say that a business is coming for sure.
“It’s up to the companies to release their plans,” Callen said. “They may just have shown an interest or given a letter of intent. Amazon was looking here and ended up going to Berkeley County. That’s why I’m hesitant to give credence to rumors. Some are true, and some are not.”
Callen did confirm that Dave & Buster’s, a nationwide chain of restaurant-arcades, looked at WestRidge Business and Retail Park at the new Interstate 79 Exit 153. As far as Callen knows, the company hasn’t done more than look. Calls to Dave & Buster’s corporate office were not returned.
The North Central West Virginia Economic Outlook 2017-2021, compiled by the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research, says the build-out of major developments, such as University Town Centre, Suncrest Towne Centre and Fort Pierpont off Interstate 68 Exit 7 will drive growth in new retail, dining, lodging and entertainment businesses.
“To put it in perspective, in 2013, at University Town Centre, the road ended at Walmart on the east side and at Ashley Furniture next to Dick’s Sporting on the west side. Now it’s developed almost all the way down to the new interchange on the other side,” Callen said.
“That whole area is possible, really, because of the interchange (Interstate 79 Exit 153). That is the first interchange in the country that was a collaboration and cooperation between the state and county government. It was funded half by county and half by the federal government and designed by the local, state and federal people. That shows the importance of infrastructure.”
In that area, one of the newest developments under construction is WestRidge, a 1,000-acre mixed-use development that will have five neighborhoods, two medical office buildings, a shopping center and a corporate office park.
Holly Childs, WestRidge’s director of business development and external relations, said despite road and utility construction just getting underway, there is substantial pre-leasing interest in the development.
“There are currently 149 acres under construction, 90 of which have letters of interest, signed purchase agreements or have already been sold,” Childs said. “WestRidge is currently negotiating with many new and exciting retail offerings for the market, while also planning close to 100 acres of a Class A Business Park that is currently being marketed on a national level to attract and recruit businesses to Morgantown.”
That area on Morgantown’s north side is not the only development that’s growing.
Lorenze said Black Diamond Realty expects to announce 14-15 deals it has closed this quarter in October.
“Quarter 3 has been Black Diamond Realty’s strongest quarter in its short four-year history,” Lorenze said.
Backdoor Bargains, which sells merchandise at up to a 70 percent markdown, opened this summer in the former Fastenal store in Sabraton. In June, BDR announced a developer will build an 8,300-square-foot Family Dollar Store on 1.14 acres near Mountainview Elementary on Green Bag Road.
“A lot of announcements will happen in the coming months,” Lorenze said.
One might be about a restaurant on the upper level of the new Par Mar Retail Store/Restaurant on Oakland Street near WVU’s Evansdale Campus.
Callen said when a business is looking to locate in a community it evaluates the local schools and what entertainment and other things there are for workers and their families to do.
“Jobs are only part of the equation attracting folks to Morgantown,” Lorenze agreed. “Monongalia County is flush with amenities that support a strong quality of life. From beautiful public parks to quality schools to world-class sports’ facilities, Morgantown is blessed with a well-rounded offering of amenities. And, the beautiful thing is, the momentum appears to only be increasing.”
Our team is often asked, “How is the market?” Some brokers may respond with a generic, “good”. If you are interested in a general response, we are happy to report the market is currently “great.” Black Diamond Realty’s pipeline is the busiest it has been in its four-year history. That said, we suspect you are more interested in a sophisticated, detailed response. Look no further; we have your answers.
At Black Diamond Realty, one of our competitive advantages is our thorough and detailed process. We track every single lead. This allows us to present you with accurate statistics that serve as a reflection of market demand across all sectors. Keep in mind our statistics are influenced by Black Diamond Realty’s current inventory of assets. The following statistics provide the number of sector leads since January 1, 2017:
Do you believe in the mantra that tells you to focus on what you can control? We do, too. However, we also believe it is not wise to bury your head in the sand. It is critical to think about how macroeconomic factors influence regional market demand. Two positive influencers are currently in play.
Historically speaking, interest rates remain near all-time lows. This bodes well for investors looking to get into investment opportunities. Although cash is king, we are seeing a lot of companies and individuals levering up to take advantage of favorable bank rates. Refinances have flocked through banks’ doors. Sellers also like low interest rates because funds are cheaper to secure which results in higher valuations while still clearing bank debt-coverage ratios.
The second macroeconomic factor relates to the reenergization (pun intended) of Marcellus Shale activity. Oil and gas pricing is fluid, literally and figuratively. Pricing has seen nominal rises over the past 12 months. However, recent industrial space demand leads us to believe many companies on the front lines sense prices moving north in the coming years. We suspect their goal is to get established in this area while industrial real estate values are still relatively inexpensive. This will heighten their ability to capture the market and capitalize on contracts as things ramp up. Many articles reference cracker plants and pipelines as the saving grace to lowering the current supply glut. These two variables are currently progressing in a very big way. The O&G industry has potential to replace job losses from coal. Time will tell if this is a long-term regional industrial revolution.
Jobs drive economic growth, and there are plenty of jobs coming to two booming exits along the I-79 corridor. University Town Center/West Ridge and White Oaks Business Parks are the two distinct front runners when considering development hubs in north central WV. University Town Center and WestRidge, both located at I-79, Exit 153, lead the charge as driving forces behind retail and office development in Monongalia County. Simply put, this new exit has created significant buzz in Monongalia County which is expected to remain in play for the next three to five years. A lot of announcements will happen in the coming months. 2018 is slated to be a heavy construction year for this development.
Thirty miles south of Morgantown, White Oaks Business Park is leading the development charge for Harrison County. Numerous Class A office buildings, spanning a plethora of services, hotels, retail space and several restaurants round out the line-up for this state-of-the-art development. White Oaks is an upscale development, which includes sidewalks throughout and pristine landscaping, while serving as “the talk” of Harrison County as it capitalizes on close proximity to the interstate, UHC and FBI’s Campus. Growth and positive economic announcements are projected to continue in the coming years.
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