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Invest in Your Community, Not Just Your Property

Goodwill, happier tenants, and increased ROI will follow

When you invest in a commercial property, your responsibilities—and opportunities—go well beyond the four walls of your building or the boundaries of your grounds. You are now part of the community and it behooves you to embrace that responsibility and become involved. Fortunately, this can also provide a welcome boost to your reputation and your ROI.

Everything from property values to tenant relations stand to benefit from community engagement. Here are just a few of the ways you can get involved.

Incorporate charitable acts into your business

There are many ways to contribute to your community other than money, and there are many ways to connect with these opportunities. Here are just a few examples:

  • Real Estate for Rehabilitation. As your first tenants move into your new property, hit the ground running by encouraging them to participate in this program. It connects them to the local Salvation Army, who will pick up their unwanted stuff and sell it in their stores. This fosters immediate goodwill for you, your tenants, and this legacy charitable organization.
  • Give Back Homes. Put some hands-on work into the community with this group of fellow real estate professionals who build homes for those in need—in your town and around the world.
  • Knock on some doors. Encourage tenants and neighbors to donate to the local food bank by providing bags and offering to deliver them. It’s a great way to get some face time with community members and serve a greater good.

Join local networking organizations

Networking is key to establishing and maintaining positive relationships with your neighbors and the town at large. Join the local Chamber of Commerce and attend events hosted by local service organizations, such as the Rotary, Lions, or Kiwanis clubs. They have their finger on the pulse of the community and can direct you to other opportunities to get involved. Local chapters of the Ronald McDonald House, the Boys & Girls Club, and various other groups are also great resources.

Support your local schools

Parents hold the key to a community’s good will. They are perhaps the most invested and the most vocal about their experiences, good and bad. What better way to engage this constituency than by helping your local PTA or PTO with fundraising, volunteering, or marketing, services which are nearly always in demand. Promote their events in your building and encourage your tenants to step up as well.

Get your tenants involved

Speaking of tenants, they are your most powerful tool and the most direct expression of your community involvement. Engage them in these efforts and you’ll have a better relationship with them and have a greater impact on your town. Organize neighborhood “shine” days where you collect trash or plant flowers along your street, as one example. Come the holidays, boost your efforts to collect food for the local pantry, and make your corner of town the pride and joy of the community with decorations and giveaways.

Give back, get back

These are just some examples of ways to become involved in your community. Commercial real estate investors in South Florida and beyond have innumerable outlets for finding causes and organizations that enable them to give back to the community. And the practical impact—beyond doing what’s right— is that all of them have great potential to bring positive attention to you and your property:

  • If you have empty units, people will be more likely to fill them.
  • Need something from the local zoning board? They will be more inclined to quickly provide it.
  • You’ll build valuable connections with local contractors, tradesmen, and other useful service providers.

In short, community investment is not only a moral imperative and a great way to improve where you live or work—it has real ROI. We call that a win-win … win!

Morris Southeast Group is a champion of community engagement. For a free consultation on our commercial real estate investment or property management services, call us at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at kenmorris@morrissegroup.com.

Leasing Billboard Space On Your Commercial Property

Why looking up is looking good for CRE

As soon as people had something to sell, they knew they had to advertise in order to draw in customers—and a business was born. From the outside walls of barns painted with images of fresh corn to LED digital displays turning night to day in Times Square, billboards have evolved and always managed to find a place in the American landscape.

Outdoor off-premise advertising became so popular and numerous that billboards were eventually considered a blight—and many cities and jurisdictions created a list of rules and regulations to contain their spread. Despite the pushback, though, they have remained a way to generate additional income from a rooftop, wall, or empty plot of vacant land along a heavily traveled road.

The billboard does not belong to the property owner

When it comes to renting space, most commercial property owners are familiar with the traditional leasing agreement they have with tenants. Rent is paid for a piece of the overall building, while the landlord retains ownership.

That isn’t the case with billboards. The property owner owns just that and only that—the property, whether it’s the roof, an exterior wall, or a plot of land. Sign companies own the actual billboard and, as owners, they then lease that space to advertisers. Unlike tenant rents, which are calculated by square footage, billboard leases are usually a fixed price that’s tied to the consumer price index and/or revenue generated by the billboard. In other words, property owners can expect a 10%–18% return. Digital billboards are even more profitable.

Things to consider before entering the billboard arena

Before exploring options to have billboard structures placed on the roof or exterior wall of your building, or on some land along I-95, there are a few things to consider.

  • Not every location is perfect for a billboard. Sign companies need to look at some data, such as traffic count, lines of sight, and demand and audience profiles. In addition, they also need to protect the visibility of their sign for their clients. This is done through a kick-out clause in the lease agreement. Simply stated, visibility that becomes obstructed through the owner’s alteration of the building, a third-party construction project, or road relocation are grounds for lease termination.
  • Many billboard lease agreements also contain hands-off provisions. The building owner cannot dictate the content on the billboard. About the only way content is controlled is if it violates any sort of law or local codes.
  • The sign company retains rights to not only assign leases, but to also sell the billboard to another company.
  • Since the sign company is responsible for billboard maintenance, property owners must grant “reasonable access.” When on top of a building, for example, this means allowing access to the roof. For a billboard placed along a major thoroughfare, things can become more complicated, since access is usually achieved by driving from the street (rather than from the highway) and then through the property. In addition, the sign company must also have access to electricity sources for lighting, though it would be responsible for utility payments.
  • As stated earlier, local governments have made it more and more difficult for billboards to find a place. As a result, existing locations are even more valuable for sign companies.

Generating CRE income outside and in

When it comes to commercial property generating income, most investors are well aware of primary sources—but secondary and tertiary sources, such as billboards, open up a whole new stream. At the same time, digital technology advances are expanding profit opportunities to interiors like the advertising possibilities in elevators and lobbies. At Morris Southeast Group, our professionals are uniquely qualified to help you make the most of your investment. To learn more about property investment opportunities, property management, and/or other services, call us at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at kenmorris@morrissegroup.com.

E-Scooters: Boon or Burden to Cities and Commercial Real Estate?

Cities have a love/hate relationship with these two-wheelers

Once an oddity only seen in America’s tech centers, e-scooters have now become near-ubiquitous across the U.S. and around the globe. From Columbus to Nashville, Lisbon to Paris, these two-wheelers are taking over the urban world as we know it. Startups like Lime, Bird, and Scoot once had the field to themselves, but are now being muscled around by transit giants Uber, Lyft, and Google Maps, who all want a piece of the action.

But it isn’t all sunshine and roses. While they can have some concrete benefits, scooters are often divisive—pitting residents against each other, adding fuel to the already tense relationship between tech companies and municipalities, and, if used recklessly, unsafe.

The Pros

  • A solution for “transit deserts.” E-scooters provide a viable transportation option for areas out of the reach of public transit. And in areas that do have buses and subways, scooters can be a useful solution to get you that last couple of miles—too short for a car, too long for a walk. For residents of smaller cities like Nashville, TN or Scottsdale, AZ, scooters may mean that having a car is no longer a requirement to live there.
  • More affordable than a car. Scooters provide accessibility at very low cost—typically around $1 to unlock and 15 cents a minute after that.
  • Eco-friendly. By reducing the need for a car, at least for the kind of short trips that are the most common, e-scooters can bring down emissions, save money, and reduce the number of automobiles stuck in traffic. Scooters also use far less energy than cars and public transportation.
  • Supplemental income. Scooter companies often hire locals to round up and charge their two-wheelers overnight.

The Cons

  • Town/tech conflict. Entrepreneurs and municipalities have been at odds almost from the start as this innovation has arrived in cities. Startups would simply drop scooters wherever they pleased; opting to apologize later, rather than ask permission. Many cities—including some in South Florida—initially pushed back, but are now working with these companies, rather than fighting them.
  • Unreliable technology. Many models have short battery life and don’t do well with repeated exposure to rough terrain, bad weather, and the grind of city streets.
  • Dockless chaos. By many accounts, the dockless nature of these two-wheelers creates a free for all with scooters left in the middle of streets and sidewalks, in buildings and on private property. Riders are known to zoom along pedestrian walkways when they are required to stay on bike paths or streets. Which leads to…
  • Safety concerns. Scooter injuries are on the rise, and many riders don’t wear helmets. In 2018, nearly 250 people reported to the ER in Southern California with scooter-related head injuries, bruises, bumps, and broken bones. Twenty-one of these folks weren’t even riding a scooter, rather tripped over or were hit by one.
  • Eco-friendly? While there are tangible benefits once the scooters are on the ground in cities, the process of getting them there is fraught with environmental issues. Bird sources its bikes from China and ships them in containers, which produce a growing percentage of global CO2. In addition, the lithium battery needs to be replaced every 300 to 1,000 charges. Unless your town has a means of processing these batteries, more shipping is required.
  • Vandalism. Los Angeles and San Francisco have both seen scooters vandalized in a variety of “creative” ways.

Scooters seem to be good for cities and CRE, despite the hurdles

The verdict in South Florida is generally positive. Cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Coral Gables are partnering with startups to roll out these programs safely—although Fort Lauderdale beach has banned them for the summer. Morris Southeast Group is well aware of the key role efficient and cost-effective transportation plays as part of successful commercial real estate and property management in South Florida. For a free consultation on our property management services or commercial real estate investment opportunities, call us at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at kenmorris@morrissegroup.com.

Pedaling vs Parking: The Impact of Bicycling on CRE

The newest front in the green revolution is actually a win-win

By the looks of things, it appears as if the green revolution is spreading across South Florida, as well as the rest of the country, in the form of miles and miles of green lanes dedicated to bicycling. As an increasing number of cities redesign streets to include wider sidewalks and increased tree canopies, bike lanes are often used as a means of improving road safety, slowing down traffic, helping the environment, and improving overall community health.

There is, though, a casualty: street parking. For landlords and business owners, this can be a critical issue as they envision a loss of profits from bike lanes that are seldom used to full capacity. Preliminary studies, however, are indicating the opposite is true.

The battle for street space

When considering a street redesign, the argument often comes down to space. On the one hand, there is traffic congestion slowing down many primary and secondary roads throughout the region. In many cases, adding a bike lane means the elimination of a driving lane—and when many roads are already moving at a snail’s pace, is it even possible to move any slower?

At the same time, there is a growing call in many urban and dense suburban areas—where space is quite limited—for pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares. This often requires wider sidewalks to invite strolling. It also calls for slower traffic so pedestrians can safely cross, and in South Florida, hit-and-run accidents and casualties have become all too common.

Bike lanes, then, have become a go-to solution. Not only do they meet the demands of a more environmentally conscious population and the increase of citywide bike-sharing initiatives, but they also appear to be efficient at forcing drivers to slow down.

The concerns among business owners and landlords

As nice as that all seems, though, it does little to quell the anxiety of landlords and business owners. But there are ways to not only meet the challenges of change but to do so profitably:

  • Without a doubt, parking concerns are valid ones, but it’s also important to realize that businesses with street parking have always had parking issues. It’s actually quite rare for a customer to be able to park immediately in front of a specific store. Very often, he or she has to walk some distance to the store after parking—and this distance is often less than the distance in a parking lot to the front door of a shopping mall. In addition, the street redesign will encourage pedestrians to linger, and the walk from the car to store will increase foot traffic to other businesses along the street. And that’s a great thing.
  • Businesses can assist customers through the transition, using signage and social media to direct customers to nearby parking options. In addition, some business owners embracing the idea have discovered unique ways to reach out to new customers, including sales incentives for people who walked or biked to the store and placing bike racks on the new, wider sidewalk. Some developers are even redesigning building spaces to include biking amenities, such as bike parking and bike repair items.
  • Ultimately, for business owners and landlords, it comes down to the bottom line. While some cities experienced initial growing pains during the transition to bike/pedestrian-friendly streets, they have realized a profitable upswing as the population has learned to adapt to a new way of living, working, shopping, and playing.

    When New York City added bike lanes to two major streets, retailers saw a 50% increase in sales receipts. Seattle and San Francisco had similar results. Similarly, in one Memphis neighborhood, locals took it upon themselves to paint their own bike lanes. Within six months, commercial rents in the area doubled and all storefronts were full.

Bike lanes and SoFlo’s CRE market

If the professionals at Morris Southeast Group have learned anything over the years, it’s that CRE is a fluid creature. Changes come, changes go—and through it all, our team has successfully helped investors to not only meet the challenges but leverage them, as well. When it comes to bike lanes, it’s an idea whose time has come. Even pedestrian-heavy Wynwood is considering a redo that would include a 2.5-mile network of connected bike lanes.

To learn more about adjusting your property to a bike lane, property investment opportunities, and/or our other services, call Morris Southeast Group at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at kenmorris@morrissegroup.com.

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