While large chunks of the U.S. economy are falling apart, Minneapolis-based developer United Properties is expanding with the opening of a new office in Austin, Texas. It will be the third market for United Properties, which opened a Denver office in 2005.
United Properties has hired Josh Delk, a veteran of the Austin commercial real estate scene, as its new senior vice president for Austin commercial development. Delk’s official first day with United Properties was on Monday.
“We started thinking about a third market probably two years ago,” said Bill Katter, president and chief investment officer with United Properties Development. “Austin was good for us for a number of reasons. First of all, we have some relationships there…and that helps a lot.”
Delk and Katter are now searching for office space in Austin. Katter is bullish on the growth trajectory he sees in the Austin area.
“We just see a very resilient economy there. It’s attracting and retaining a labor pool,” said Katter. “It was a good complementary economy compared to Minneapolis and Denver.”
A few years ago United Properties started building some senior housing in Florida, but the company does not have an office there.
“Senior housing is more of a regional/national strategy,” said Katter, who added that United Properties is likely to add one or two additional markets for senior housing soon.
The privately held United Properties is owned by Minneapolis-based Pohlad Cos., which also owns the Minnesota Twins.
For the moment, Katter does not think that the current economic volatility will be a repeat of the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009. In those days, very little commercial real estate was being financed or built.
“I don’t think it will last as long, presuming that there’s progress made on something that greatly reduces the mortality rate of the virus,” said Katter of the current economic downturn. “You can still finance deals right now … we’re considering a few build-to-suits.”
In the current market, United Properties is starting its business in Austin with an eye on the industrial property sector.
“We are going to try to make a run at industrial first,” said Katter. “We haven’t seen a lot of new industrial supply over the last six to nine months in Austin.”
United Properties does not yet own any development sites in Austin.
Katter noted that the current economic climate offers one upside for developers.
“Land has probably gotten cheaper in the last 60 days,” said Katter. “It was certainly at all-time highs last fall.”