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Local Experts Predict the Real Estate and Urban Development Trends of 2012

Walker Evans Walker Evans Local Experts Predict the Real Estate and Urban Development Trends of 2012
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The Atlas Building is one of several Downtown apartment projects currently being planned.

A new year brings about new change, and there’s no better place to look than across our urban landscape and into communities where people choose to live their lives in Central Ohio. We asked several local real estate and development experts for their opinions, insight and predictions about what 2012 will hold for urban development and the local real estate market. Here’s what they had to say:

The Continued Upward Spiral for Downtown Columbus

When we narrow our scope to the urban neighborhoods in Columbus, the trends become a bit more specific to individual neighborhoods. Places like Weinland Park and East Franklinton are on the verge of being rebuilt from the ground up, while Downtown Columbus is seeing a quick transition away from being a hot market for condominiums.

“There will be no condo development in the city due to the high level of condo inventory and competition,” McCoy says. “Condo financing has lightened compared with the last couple years, however, it remains more challenging to finance a condominium than a single family home.”

The lack of new Downtown condos for sale doesn’t mean that interest in the area is fading, though. Instead, new urban-dwelling residents are looking for apartments before making a commitment to buy a home.

“The rental market is incredibly strong, partly because of the economy and partly because we have a lot of people in transition who are relocating to new areas,” Robbins says. “Many of those people intend to become long-term residents, but would like to get settled in Columbus before deciding on what neighborhoods are best for them.”

When it becomes time to buy, Ringley is seeing urban homeowners who are looking for what were previously considered suburban amenities, such as off street parking, gardens, and quality construction.

“It is my hope that developers will focus on renovation rather than new construction,” she says. “There are so many single-family homes, multi-family homes and commercial buildings in Franklinton, Hilltop, Westgate and Olde Towne East that need work, and would make lovely homes and rentals.”

While rentals units are certainly on the forefront of most developers’ minds, Peffer points out that Downtown still fared well with condo sales in 2011. He says 115 condos sold in the 43215 zip code in 2011.

“2012 will be more of the same, with lower prices and high interest for the more desirable locations,” he explains. “The tripping point, however, will continue to be the inability of those who want to move downtown to sell their large suburban nests, often because they are reluctant to list their homes ‘in this market’ because of the continuing negative housing market publicity nationwide.”

Interest in Downtown is expected to increase as new amenities come online in 2012, such as the new Hills Market grocery store, the new Columbus Commons amphitheater, and the new 500-room Hilton Hotel that will include public restaurant and bar venues.

“Developers now seem to be paying more attention to consumer wants,” Lafontaine says. “Buyers want to have services available within walking distance for convenience of biking or walking, eschewing owning a car.”

Fortin agrees, but remains cautiously optimistic on the rebirth of Downtown Columbus.

“Like most all urban centers across the country, there are many dysfunctional, obsolete, deteriorating structures — some can be restored, but many cannot,” he explains. “The quality of urban life in Columbus has improved in the last seven years and I hope it continues, but we have a long way to go.”

Developer John Delia emphasizes the importance of recognizing the smaller successes that Downtown has seen, which collectively make a more vibrant community for new residents.

“Events like the Reduction sale and the Food Cart Festival prove that there is demand for Downtown retailers and restauranteurs,” he explains. “Columbus has strong urban pioneers being responsive and taking action.”

Page 3: To Rent or Not to Rent. That is the question

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