Growth in the national economy should accelerate in the months ahead, a panel of commercial real estate experts said Thursday, and Charlotte, Raleigh and other Sun Belt cities stand to grow even faster.
That was the prognosis from a panel of regional and national officials from JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle), a global commercial real estate firm with operations across the U.S. and in 75 countries. They gathered at the Mint Museum Uptown to talk about trends and forecasts in commercial real estate across the globe and in the Carolinas.
Despite recent fears over the Ebola virus outbreak and instability in European financial markets, the panel offered a bullish assessment of the U.S. economy. Colin Dyer, JLL’s Washington, D.C.-based global president and CEO, said America’s post-recession recovery has spread through a broad range of industry sectors, with corporations posting quarter after quarter of strong growth while stockpiling record amounts of cash.
The recovery, he said, “is stronger than most people came to believe,” he said. “Generally speaking, there’s good growth everywhere.”
It’s even stronger in Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Charleston and other Sun Belt cities than nationally, added John Sikaitis, managing director of JLL’s Washington, D.C.-based research unit that studies office space trends and tracks more than 50 U.S. markets where the firm operates.
He said U.S. economic growth should be about 3 percent over the next two years. Growth in Charlotte and other Carolinas cities, fueled by strong population increases, should be about 4 to 4.5 percent.
“There are a lot of different super-regions that are growing a lot faster than the U.S. as a whole,” he said. “Texas and Denver are at the top of the list, but the one that’s been coming up from behind the pack, and could be in front of the pack in the next 24 months, is really the Sun Belt, and the Carolinas is part of that.”
That growth will be particularly strong in urban areas, he added, since young millennial workers prefer urban settings where workplaces, recreation and shopping sit in close proximity.
That means Charlotte’s central business district, he said, but also SouthPark and Ballantyne, areas traditionally thought of as suburban. He said they retain strong appeal for young workers because they manage to keep work, retail and recreational opportunities close together, despite being outside the city’s urban core.
“We’re seeing submarkets like that outperform (the broader market) from a demand standpoint, from a pricing standpoint, from an investor demand standpoint,” he said.
People don’t want to be in isolated office park buildings “with a deli downstairs” and a highway as their only connection to other activities.
“I’m not against the suburbs,” he said, but “that’s just not how we’re thinking today.”