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ATLANTA-In less than three years, Trammell Crow Co.’s C. Whitney Knoll has moved into one of the firm’s top executive positions. He moves up from senior vice president of retail investment services in the Southeast division to senior vice president and director of investment services for the company’s entire network.

One of the industry’s leading retail property specialists when he joined Crow in 1991, Knoll has participated in the sale or financing of 100 investment-grade properties valued at $1 billion throughout the Southeast.

At last week’s International Conference of Shopping Centers gathering in Orlando, Knoll told 3,600 delegates “strong and sustained demand for investment-grade retail properties is driving retail property values higher and cap rates lower” throughout the Southeast.

Volume is highest in the city and South Florida “which accounts for almost half the retail property sales in the Southeast region,” the broker says. But volume this year is down from last year. “The problem is that most retail property owners don’t want to sell,” Knoll says.

Because of that dilemma, “we have just seen a dramatic drop in cap rates,” he told the ICSC group. “Over the past six months, in the major markets, the cap rate has fallen about 50 basis points. In the tertiary markets, we’ve seen a drop in the average cap rates of more than 150 basis points.”

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