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IRVING, TX-About 200 powerhouse professionals, sharing inside shop talk across all sectors, put Dallas/Fort Worth in the spotlight for a one-day conference hosted by the ULI North Texas District Council.

“I think we are in a new paradigm for real estate,” Craig Hall, chairman and founder of Hall Financial Group and luncheon keynote speaker, told the packed room at the Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas. “Real estate has become different.”

Hall’s insight into the industry changes wasn’t unlike that coming out of the full day of panels and roundtable discussions about capital markets, retail, hospitality, multifamily and the ones who’ve had to tough it out the longest, office and industrial. “Real estate won’t crash,” Hall predicted. “There will be areas of the country that will be overheated, but I don’t see a widespread crash.”

In a tag-team panel of office and industrial, building owners and tenant representatives alike agreed there’s no need to build anymore product in Dallas. Still, Dallas developers are doing just that, but with one stark difference from yesteryear. This time around, they are scouting niche pockets in high-growth residential markets in the metroplex’s extremities to get an edge over long commutes and still break new ground on office and industrial product.

Whether it’s office or industrial, the key is adjusting the design to fit today’s North Texas market. Industrial developers are eyeing 100,000-sf to 300,000-sf, shallow-bay buildings tailored to 10,000-sf to 20,000-sf users. Meanwhile, office developers are tilling the far north fields where they can raise class A buildings with a value rate to tap territories in developmental stages that only stand to gain in popularity as the metroplex expands.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the return–a fact that has some industrial developers opting to build rather than buy because sale prices are now at an all-time high, according to the panel. Industrial developers say the rising prices, some as high as $50 per sf, have usurped redevelopment of close-in buildings because they can’t justify buying and scraping sites unless rent goes up or costs come down.

On the office side, the panelists predicted the year will end with positive absorption, but it still won’t be like the good old days, at least not for awhile. There are 25 deals in the market, each more than 100,000 sf or close to eight million sf, up three million sf from last year at this time. The prediction is 12 deals will be made. The bright note, they all agreed, is rent is starting to go up at last.

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