October 30, 2012

L-to-R: Jeff Alpaugh, Brian Duke, Bob Smietana, Albert Friedman, and Stuart Handler on the panel at the Northern Trust Real Estate Symposium

This Monday morning, Bob Smietana, CEO and Vice Chairman of HSA Commercial, joined the panel discussion at the Real Estate Symposium hosted by Northern Trust in downtown Chicago to engage in a wide-ranging conversation about what real estate investors need to know for 2013. In his remarks, Bob addressed what he believes is a resurgence in the Chicago industrial market and commented on the continued strength of the healthcare sector.

With the Chicago-area industrial vacancy rate reaching a four year low and nearing single-digits, according to the latest reports, Bob said that HSA has been exploring spec development opportunities on which the company could break ground before the end of the year. In the investment market, institutional investors are still searching aggressively for high-quality real estate assets in Chicago’s key logistics corridors, Smietana said citing HSA’s 9-building, $100M industrial portfolio sale to Denver-based Industrial Income Trust. Given the competition for this type of Class A industrial product, prices have been rising steadily for the past couple years. “That’s why new buildings are garnering the attention of institutional investors,” said Smietana, as reported by Crain’s┬áChicago Business.

As for the healthcare market, Bob addressed concerns over the outcome of the election saying, “The horse is out of the barn.” Despite the uncertain political future, the hospital systems and healthcare providers are already preparing for the changes in regulation and the evolution in how care is delivered to the patient. Bob said HSA PrimeCare, which completed three healthcare development projects in 2012, continues to find opportunities in the medical sector through the growth in hospital-occupied outpatient facilities that provide attractive real estate investments.

The other participants on the panel included: Jeff Alpaugh, Real Estate Global Practice Leader at Marsh McLennan; Brian Duke, VP with Northern Trust; Albert Friedman, CEO of Friedman Properties; and Stuart Handler, CEO of TLC Management Company.

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