In today’s Four on Friday, we’re taking a look back at some of our recent Four on Friday interviews. They are good examples of the insight into the commercial real estate markets, and the personalities that help shape those markets, that we try to provide every Friday.
What are some major trends you see happening in commercial real estate market today?
Cobb: I have seen two trends recently:
1. The downsizing of many retail and restaurant footprints. This is largely occurring because of two core reasons: to drive efficiency, and because many traditional retailers are implementing omnichannel strategies, e-commerce divisions make up for the reduction of square footage in the stores.
2. Clicks-to-bricks continues to be a growing retail trend and Atlanta has seen a lot of impact from the relatively recent movement. Several recent retail additions hitting the local market include some notable clicks to bricks retailers such as Warby Parker, Boston Proper and Bonobos. Other examples include online brands partnering with other brick-and-mortar locations, such as Birchbox and Gap or Blue Nile and Nordstrom. With physical stores, online retailers have the opportunity to engage with customers at a deeper level and be exposed to an entirely different audience.
You deal with a lot of Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, what trends have you seen recently with these and have they been picking up in general?
Wintle: Between my experience and what I hear from others in my field, it appears that commercial real estate is in the process of gaining momentum, although it does not seem to be a steady progression. My clients tell me that although they want to move forward, it is taking longer for the projects to come to fruition than it used to. This year, I have been more involved in performing Phase I and Phase II assessments on contaminated sites in order to provide an accurate cost estimate for the environmental issues so the clients can make decisions based on actual data rather than just walk from the deals. They are more willing to purchase impacted sites than they were before, especially if that property is in a location where they need to be.
Ryan, tell us about the origins of “I is for Iowa.” Had you always had aspirations to write a children’s book?
Rivera: It was a combination of the birth of my son, Parker, and words of encouragement from my wife, Casey, and a good friend of hers that recently wrote her own children’s book. Parker was born on July 22 (his first birthday is just around the corner!) and the Iowa Hawkeye baby apparel, books, etc. started arriving shortly thereafter. At that point I noticed the most recent University of Iowa children’s book was written in 2004, and overlooked quite a few areas of campus. It occurred to me there was an opportunity to introduce something new. After kicking around the idea with Casey for several weeks, I embarked on this fun (and at times frustrating) project over Labor Day weekend. After a month of seemingly endless adjustments to the script, I submitted the proposal to my publisher, Mascot Books, and they loved it. While I was able to pull together the script rather quickly, the illustrations took around five months. I was fortunate to work closely with an extremely talented illustrator, Adam Schartup, and each page turned out better than expected.
“Ray’s Rio Bravo” in Sandy Springs is scheduled to open this summer. What’s the history of the Rio Bravo and how excited are you to see the most recent location open?
Schoenbaum: From the two restaurants I started in 1984, I built my company to 16 restaurants before Applebee's bought it from me. I started Rio Bravo with the concept of creating everything from scratch. There was a real need for this kind of restaurant at the time. I am very excited to bring back a quality food concept.