Colliers’ Murphy: Positive signs in Cincinnati

The Greater American Tower at Queen City Square in Cincinnati is the most noticeable recent addition to the Cincinnati downtown business district.

Shenan Murphy sees plenty of positive signs in the Cincinnati commercial real estate market.

It’s just that actual transactions have slowed a bit during the summer months.

“It’s like we’re taking a bit of a pause,” said Murphy, chief executive officer of the Cincinnati office of Colliers International. “I don’t think it’s a sign that things are going to slow down long-term. I think it’s just, after a long period of activity, a brief pause.”

This summer pause isn’t that unusual. This is a presidential election year, and November isn’t that far away. Many companies are waiting until after the election is decided to make their major commercial real estate news.

At the same time, unrest across the globe – especially in the financial markets throughout Europe – are giving U.S. companies pause. They’re not quite ready to make big moves.

So Cincinnati’s slight slowdown – or pause – is not unexpected.

“We had some real good activity in the beginning of the year,” Murphy said. “But the markets are taking a little summer vacation. So are the decision-makers.”

Murphy said that he’s not certain how long the summer pause will last. But there are signs that it won’t necessarily be a long-term break.

For instance, Ohio’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average. Jobs are being created in Ohio and in Cincinnati. That’s the best sign that commercial real estate activity won’t be slowed for long in the city.

“The presidential election is a very important one to Ohio and our city,” Murphy said. “I think that many business owners in the area have put their plans on hold. They are taking more time on some of their bigger decisions.”

That being said, Cincinnati has seen plenty of important commercial additions recently.

Much of this has taken place in downtown Cincinnati, including the arrival of several new restaurants. Country singer Toby Keith’s new restaurant, I Love This Place Bar & Grill, recently opened in Cincinnati’s The Banks downtown entertainment and dining district. It was joined this June by Crave, an 8,000-square-foot restaurant that serves sushi, steaks and seafood.

“The new additions have brought some vibrancy back to downtown,” Murphy said. “That’s exciting to see. Office tenants had been considering moving out of downtown. Now we are seeing tenants who have moved thinking about ways in which they can get back downtown.”

Queen City Square, a busy business center, is also bringing excitement back to downtown. It is now home to the city’s tallest building, the Great American Tower at Queen City Square. It also boasts 1 million square feet of Class-A+ office space.

“A big focus in our region has been on how we retain talent,” Murphy said. “How do we create a city that people want to stay in? These projects help with that. People are seeing that Cincinnati is a great place to live. The entertainment centers like The Banks gives young adults some excitement and a reason to stay here in the Cincinnati region. It helps create a region where it’s not all just focused on business, but on entertainment, too. That’s exciting. That’s a cornerstone of this city’s future.”

— Dan Rafter

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