Cashing In On Options
SAN FRANCISCO—Wouldn't it be convenient if someone had clear, intelligent answers to most of your CRE-related questions? Problem solved. Nina J. Gruen, a.k.a. Ms. Real Estate, a.k.a. the principal sociologist overseeing market research and analysis at Gruen Gruen + Associates, is here to answer readers' questions.
Have a question for Ms. Real Estate? Click here, and it may appear in a future column.
Dear Ms. Real Estate:
I have an obsolete outer suburban shopping mall that’s experiencing increased vacancies and low cash returns. What use options do I have to improve my cash flow?
—Cashing In On Options
Dear Cashing In On Options,
If your center were located in a high-income area, Ms. Real Estate would suggest redevelopment into an exciting mixed-use residential, retail and entertainment center. But don’t even think about that or the tenants who once generated base rents and overages if your customer base is comprised of middle- and lower-income folks facing the shock of lower real incomes and the increased appeal of bargains at Amazon.com and the like.
But cheer up! While Obamacare may drive up your health care insurance and limit your choice of doctors, it may offer you a financially rewarding reuse option.
A major effect of Obamacare will be to create lower-cost medical treatment options than hospitals traditionally have been able to provide. Medical clinics, docs-in-boxes, physical therapy and x-ray centers are just some examples of activities that will increasingly take place outside of a hospital environment.
A prime submarket due to the large numbers returning home will be veterans. The VA is currently seeking non-hospital medical facilities closer to where their patients reside. Veterans with families often locate in less-expensive outer suburbs. The outer suburbs also have a substantial number of patients on Medicaid.
These new non-hospital facilities are being financed by different investment groups. Physicians’ groups invest in specialized facilities such as x-ray centers. Hospitals have already been going through an agglomeration process and are often sponsoring medical clinics closer to their patients. If you find yourself successful in attracting medical service tenancies, you may also have an opportunity to attract a community college that specializes in training nurses and other medical para-professionals.
But Obamacare is a very new social program with more unknowns than knowns. My best advice is to contact a consultant who specializes in advising doctors how to set up financially viable medical facilities, as well as hospitals, as to their best choice locations for expansion.
Make an effort to stay in good health in 2014, since you have a lot of homework to do before you will be able to know if Obamacare is the right medicine for invigorating your retenanting program.