Commercial Real Estate Zoning - warehouse district, New Orleans LA

In this article, we examine the permitted uses in various commercial real estate zoning districts for New Orleans including Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. Zoning uses and density can determine feasibility, so gathering this information is imperative before you make an offer.

New Orleans commercial real estate development is not a feat undertaken by the weak. The entrepreneurs making things happen today are a special breed. They not only have a vision but an instinct of where opportunities exist, and they put their money where their mouth is—risking millions on just an idea. There is no guarantee that building a $25 million dollar apartment complex to solve the housing problem will produce the rents needed to break even; there is no guarantee that spending $6 million to make a shopping center look better will result in higher rental income, and it is really a long shot to rebuild an office building since tenants can find Class A space at $15/sf. Even with all the risks, developers are coming to New Orleans anyway and trying to make things happen.

Many developers find our commercial real estate zoning and planning rules to be convoluted, but they are no more restrictive than in Atlanta or Memphis or Birmingham. Zoning is more lax in Covington and Mandeville than in New Orleans, but then you don’t have the demographics to support a large project once you get away from New Orleans. In fact, our zoning and planning rules make sense, and it helps to know how they apply to what you are building before you make any offers to buy. Let’s examine building an apartment building in either Orleans or Jefferson Parish; ideally, you would want RM-4 zoning for the highest density, and you would need four to six acres. The first problem you’ll face is finding four acres of land. It doesn’t exist. The next problem is finding land zoned RM-4. Maybe you’ll find a duplex or two.  One solution in Jefferson Parish is to use C-1 or C-2 zoning, which allows multi-family use. Recently, however, Jefferson Parish requires 50% non-residential uses on the ground floor of a multifamily structure over 30 units. Residential uses include parking, lobby, management office, mail or laundry room, and health club.  Another solution is to purchase industrial zoned land and change the zoning, as multi-family is not allowed in light or heavy industrial zoning.

Land Use Classes

(1) Low-density residential (LDR).  The low-density residential land use category includes single-family, detached-unit residential development at a maximum net density of up to four dwelling units per acre.

(2)   Low-medium density residential (LMR).  The low-medium density residential land use category includes single-family detached-unit residential development at a maximum net density of nine (9) dwelling units per acre.

(3)   Medium-density residential (MDR).  The medium-density residential land use category includes single-family detached, two-family, three-family, and four-family dwellings, townhouses, and condominiums at a maximum net density of twenty-five dwelling units per acre.

(4) High-density residential (HDR).  The high-density residential land use category includes townhouses, condominiums, and multi-family apartments up to a maximum net density of sixty-five dwelling units per acre.

Develope'rs Dilemma: Meet With Neighborhood Groups Vs. Not

The truth is you’ll need a simple letter backing the project from the City Council member in the District where your development is, but no City Council member will back a project that the neighborhood associations are against. A short meeting, one-on-one, with the President of the neighborhood associations (there may be more than one) will go a long way towards building a team. Floor plans and architectural drawings help explain to anyone the details of your project. Neighborhoods love businesses that are responsible and create value which increases property values. Little things like rebuilding playgrounds go a long way to making a neighborhood thrive.

Commercial Real Estate Zoning

In Orleans Parish, commercial zoning categories are MS: allows RM-2 uses plus medical, parking garages, and adult day care. RO: allows RM-2 plus offices, motels, and clinics. RO-1: retail, hospitals, clinics. B-1: allows RM-1 uses plus retail, hospitals, and clinics. B-1A: allows RM-2, hospitals and retail, but not boarding houses. B-2: allows RM-2, hospitals and retail, but not timeshares. C-1: allows RM-4, B-1 and B-2, apartment hotels, boarding houses, and retail. C-1A: allows RM-2, except for timeshares, RM-4 and retail. C-2: allows B-1 or B-2, RM-4, and retail. Some areas allow multi-family as a conditional use, such as zoning B-1, which means the Executive Director of the Planning Department must recommend the City Planning Commission conduct a public hearing, and the City Council is the final decision-maker. City Council members Stacy Head and Cantrell when she was councilwoman were instrumental in developments in their districts. New Orleans City Council members Cynthia Willard-Lewis, Jon Johnson and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell were not willing to meet with developers to learn about proposed developments, and you can still see today the results of their actions in a lack of growth in businesses in their districts. In Jefferson Parish, Council member Byron Lee did not welcome new apartment construction and Council member Chris Roberts was against new multi-family developments, with the strange line of thinking that they would prefer to increase the renovation of existing multi-family instead of new construction because it will reduce crime.

Residential Zoning

Residential Zoning In Orleans Parish, C-2 zoning allows the same uses as RM-4, which, for multi-family exceeding 41 units, has a density of 1,000sf lot area per dwelling unit, with a minimum 400sf lot area for a residential planned community. In addition to the zoning, you might have a specific land use or an overlay district. The Urban Corridor Overlay is common in B-1 zoning in Jefferson Parish. This means the project must undergo a complete review by the City Planning Department, which usually takes two months. Zoning B-1 allows uses approved by RM-1, which has a minimum density of 1.800sf minimum lot area for a three-family or more development. In Orleans Parish, the zoning categories for Multi-Family are RM-1: low-medium density residential, garden-style apartments and single-family. Density 1,800sf minimum lot area per dwelling for multi-family. Maximum height 40 feet. RM-2: 1,000sf minimum lot area per dwelling. Maximum height 75 feet. RM-2A: 1,000sf minimum lot area per dwelling. Maximum height 40 feet, or 60 feet if fronting a street. RM-3: 1,000sf minimum lot area per dwelling. Maximum height 75 feet. RM-4: 1,000sf minimum lot area per dwelling, or 400sf minimum for a planned residential community. No limit to height.

Zoning Designation vs. Land Use Designation

Zoning Designation vs. Land Use Designation, New Orleans Commercial Real Estate Zoning

Zoning Designation vs. Land Use Designation The future land use map illustrates the preferred location of development over the next twenty years, and is comprised of eighteen future land use categories and provides for an adequate mix of land use types in appropriate locations. Residential categories range from low-density residential development to high-density residential development. The future land use map also provides a variety of commercial, office and retail, industrial, mixed-use, public, and recreation lands. In developing the plan, each of these uses are located to protect existing neighborhoods, provide shopping and recreational uses in close proximity to residents, and to make the most efficient use of infrastructure.

How Do You Change Commercial Real Estate Zoning?

How do you change commercial real estate zoning? File the paperwork, meet with neighborhood leaders and the City Council Representative, present at a public hearing, then wait for the City Council vote. Total time: two to six months.

flood map, new orleans LA

Normally when people in New Orleans ask if an area floods they are talking about heavy rains causing water to pool in the streets until the city pumps can suck the water down the drains and into the Mississippi River, but since Hurricane Katrina caused the levees to fail and flood the city with water from Lake Pontchartrain, now we include levee fail risk when we discuss flooding and debate whether the $14 billion dollar new levee system will save us all.

Protecting residents from the financial loss due to flooding, no matter whether it is from heavy rains or levee breaches, dates back to 1968 when Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program, giving the responsibility to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for producing Flood Insurance Rate Maps that show areas subject to flooding based on historic, meteorological, hydrologic, and hydraulic data. This article explains the various flood zones and provides step-by-step guidance on how to read a flood map and create your own for any location.

What’s In a Flood Map?

Katrina flood areas, new orleans LA Flood Map

The Flood Map provides information that allows you to identify not only Special Flood Hazard Areas but the Base Flood Elevation at a specific site, as well as areas of undeveloped coastal barriers where flood insurance is not available.

Flood Maps provide a wealth of information, including:

100-Year Flood Zone Is Really a 26 % Chance

A 100-year flood is not a flood that occurs every 100 years, but one that has a 26 percent chance of occurring during a 30-year period, the length of many mortgages. The 100-year flood is a regulatory standard used by Federal agencies and most states, to administer floodplain management programs, and is used by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as the basis for insurance requirements nationwide. Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) are those areas having at least a 1 percent chance of flooding during any one year. Flood Maps are easy to get and are found online at FEMA's Map Service Center.

Create Your Own Flood Map With Just 3 Clicks

Step 1: Finding the Property.

Let's say we want flood zoning information on the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, so we enter the address: 1500 Sugar Bowl Dr, New Orleans, LA 70112.

flood map search, new orleans LA

Step 2: Check Interactive Map Choices.

Next, you can select from two options: 1) a Dynamic Map or 2) a Map Image. The easiest is to select the Dynamic Map.

FEMA Dynamic flood map, new orleans LA
Select The Dynamic Map Option For The Fastest Map

Step 3: Match Your Address To The Legend.

national flood hazard layer, new orleans LA

Next, match the color pattern in your flood map to the legend. This legend shows the Superdome is in flood zone X, a minimal risk area. However, the area just across Poydras Street is flood zone AE, a high risk area.

The map is dated 9/30/2016 and each map has a number, called a panel. This map is panel 22071C0229F.

Optional: Select Map Image

In addition to selecting a dynamic map, you can select to download the map image of a FIRM Panel. This produces a zip folder with 3 files, a pdf read me, a tif image and a tfw file which allows the image to be viewed in a GIS application.

FEMA Flood map service center, new orleans LA

The tif formatted image can be a higher resolution showing more detail but the file size is 10 times larger which causes download problems.

Pamp Image, new orleans LA

For more information on flood maps, read our article Flood Zoning For Dummies.

Explanation of Flood Zone Designations

Zone A: This zone has a low risk of erosion and can experience breaking waves less than 1.5 feet. No base flood elevations are calculated.

Coastal Zone A: This zone is subject to erosion, fast and strong water movement, and wave heights of 1.5 to 3 feet during storm events. Base flood elevations are calculated for these zones and displayed on flood maps. Communities have the option of adopting more stringent building codes (up to V Zone standards) in this zone, which would give them points in the Community Rating System. This zone is relatively new, so it may not be applicable to your community’s current flood maps. On the new maps, the landward edge of the zone is marked by the LiMWA line (Line of Moderate Wave Action). An elevation certificate is required to accurately calculate insurance rates in this zone.

High Risk (Special Flood Hazard Area)

These zones make up the Special Flood Hazard Area and are in the 100-year-flood zone. They have at least a 1% chance of flooding each year and at least a 26% chance of flooding over the lifetime of a 30-year mortgage. Structures located in these zones with a federally-backed mortgage are required to purchase flood insurance. On a flood map these zones are referred to as the letters below or, collectively, as the 1% annual chance or 100-year-flood zone.

Zone AE or Zone A1-30: This zone has a low risk of erosion and can experience breaking waves less than 1.5 feet. Base flood elevations are calculated and displayed on flood maps. AE zones are present on newer maps; zones A1-30 are present on older maps. An elevation certificate is required to accurately calculate insurance rates in these zones.

Zones AH, AO, AR, A99: The flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to areas of the 100-year floodplains that will be protected by a Federal flood protection system where construction has reached specified statutory milestones. No Base Flood Elevations or depths are shown within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.

Zone V: This zone faces an additional hazard from erosion, fast and strong water movement, and waves that may be 3 feet or greater during storm events.

Zone VE or V1-V30: These zones face an additional hazard from storm waves, and can experience waves greater than 3 feet. Base flood elevations are calculated for these zones and displayed on flood maps. VE zones are present on newer maps; zones V1-30 are present on older maps. An elevation certificate is required to accurately calculate insurance rates in these zones.

Moderate Risk

Zone X (shaded) and Zone B: The area between the extent of the 100-year-flood (1% annual chance flood) and the 500-year-flood (0.2% annual chance flood). There is no base flood elevation calculated for these zones, so elevation certificates are not necessary. Flood insurance could be much cheaper in these zones because of the lower risk. These areas are not subject to the mandatory purchase of flood insurance.

Minimal Risk

Zone X (unshaded) and Zone C: The area outside of the extent of the 500-year-flood with minimal flood risk. If a structure is located in this zone, however, it does not mean that it is out of harm’s way. The risk determination is based on probability, and the probability of a flood reaching this area is low, but it is not impossible. There is no base flood elevation calculated for these zones, so elevation certificates are not necessary. Flood insurance could be as much as 50% cheaper in these zones because of the lower risk. These areas are not subject to the mandatory purchase of flood insurance.

Undetermined Risk

Zone D: Areas classified as Zone D have not had a flood hazard analysis performed. These are often areas with very low population counts.

Flood Map Glossary Terms

1-percent annual chance floodplain

This is the boundary of the flood that has a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. Also known as the 100-year floodplain.

1-percent annual chance water-surface elevation

The height, in relation to the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (or other datum, where specified), of the flood having a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given flood year (also known as the 100-year flood or the base flood).

100-year flood

The flood having a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year; also known as the base flood. The 1-percent annual chance flood, which is the standard used by most Federal and state agencies, is used by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as the standard for floodplain management and to determine the need for flood insurance. A structure located within a special flood hazard area shown on an NFIP map has a 26 percent chance of suffering flood damage during the term of a 30-year mortgage.

100-year floodplain

This is the boundary of the flood that has a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. Officially termed the 1-percent annual chance floodplain.

500-year floodplain

This is the boundary of the flood that has a 0.2-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. Officially termed the 0.2-percent annual chance floodplain.


The effect of downstream flow on the water-surface profile.

Base Flood Elevation (BFE)

The height of the base flood, usually in feet, in relation to the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929, the North American Vertical Datum of 1988, or other datum referenced in the Flood Insurance Study report, or depth of the base flood, usually in feet, above the ground surface.

Channel Bank Stations

Points that identify the extreme limits of the natural stream channel. These stations are typically assigned at locations along a cross section where a relatively flat area exists outside of the channel.


A location where two streams or rivers meet.


A line on a map joining points of equal altitude.

Critical Depth

The depth of flow at which, for a given discharge at a given location, the total energy is the minimum value possible for flow to occur.


A fixed starting point of a scale.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

An independent agency of the Federal government, founded in 1979, which reports directly to the President. FEMA is responsible for identifying and mitigating natural and man-made hazards. The agency's mission is: to reduce loss of life and property and protect our nation's critical infrastructure from all types of hazards through a comprehensive, risk- based, emergency management program of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.


A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas. For flood insurance claim purposes, two or more structures must be inundated before flood damage will be covered.

Flood Boundary Floodway Map (FBFM)

A pre-Map Initiatives floodplain management map that delineates the 100-year (1% annual chance) and 500-year (0.2% annual chance) floodplains, floodway, and cross sections.

 Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)

A map on which the 100-year (1% annual chance) and 500-year (0.2% annual chance) floodplains, Base Flood Elevations, and risk premium zones (and floodway information on Map Initiatives FIRMs) are delineated to enable insurance agents to issue accurate flood insurance policies to homeowners in communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program.

Flood Insurance Study (FIS)

An examination, evaluation, and determination of flood hazards and, if appropriate corresponding water-surface elevations. The resulting reports are used to develop Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Also know as a flood elevation study.

Floodplain Management

The operation of a program of corrective and preventative measures for mitigating flood damage, including, but not limited to, emergency preparedness plans, flood-control works, and floodplain management regulations. Floodway Channel of a stream plus any adjacent floodplain areas that must be kept free of encroachment so that the 100-year flood discharge can be conveyed without increasing the elevation of the 100-year flood by more than a specified amount (1 foot in most states).

Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)

Area inundated by the base (1-percent annual chance) flood, identified on the Flood Insurance Rate Map as Zones A, AE, AH, AO, AR, V, VE, or A99.


The height, in relation to the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (or other datum, where specified) of floods of various magnitudes and frequencies in the identified floodplains of coastal or riverine areas.

Smart Way To Value Commercial Real Estate, New Orleans LA

The most popular method of appraising commercial real estate is not the most accurate. Usually, we compare past sales of property and apply the price per square foot, but this is valid only if all the properties compared are homogeneous, which is never the situation. This article examines three common methods of valuing commercial real estate and explains which method is best.

Valuing Commercial Property With a Sales Approach

Method 3 Sales Approach, New Orleans LA

The most common method of valuing commercial property is the least accurate, because it only works if all properties have the same characteristics. Called the Sales Approach, it requires gathering the sales price of nearby comparable property, then making adjustments for different traits. This leads to inaccuracy, since the unique quality of real estate is that location can contribute greatly to how a property is used which determines what its value might be, and no two properties can occupy the same location. Other characteristics such as floor plan, parking, zoning, ingress and egress can also contribute greatly to value.

Valuing Commercial Property With a Cost Approach

Method 2 Cost Approach, New Orleans LA

Sometimes, owners value real estate based on what they paid for it, or what someone last offered for the property, or the cost to build a new building. These valuation methods are always wrong. In reality, the market value has little to do with the cost of property, and an offer made by one buyer does not mean a different buyer would value the property at the same price. The market value is the price a property would bring in an open and competitive market, with a willing buyer and seller knowledgeable about the property condition. The cost approach only works when you have the time and financing plus a reliable contractor to build an identical structure on identical property.

Valuing Commercial Property With an Income Approach

method 1 income approach, New Orleans LA

Whether you own stocks or bonds or real estate, the best method of valuing an asset is calculating the present value of all future cash flows. The underlying principal is that a dollar one year from now is worth less than one dollar today, because you could invest that dollar today at some interest rate which will grow in one year to a value of more than one dollar.

present value future cash flows, new orleans LA

Here is the math:

discount present value formula, new orleans LA

Let’s put this information to work and say a property delivers $10,000 annually in cash flow after taxes. The current value is the sum of future cash flows. You calculate each year’s cash flow, discounted back at an interest rate you could earn on other investments. Let’s assume 7 years at a 5% interest rate and change the n value to match the number of years in the future.

TOTAL $57,861


In summary, $57,861 today is the same as $10,000 for 7 years, assuming 5% interest rates. Therefore, if a property had a 7 year lease that produced income of $10,000 annually, the current value of that lease income alone would have a value of $57,861.

Can Opportunity Arise from Tragedy?

Louisiana Commercial Realty | Commercial Real Estate Experts

Unless you go back to the 1970s, New Orleans East has never been an economic driver for the area. Even though it is the largest land area in New Orleans, if you ranked all the cities over 50,000 population by income per capita, the East would rank not in the bottom 10 percent but in the bottom ten. The closest city comparable to its economy is Flint, Michigan.

There is an opportunity, however, discovered in a research report by Louisiana Commercial Realty which concludes there is a real need for grocery stores, sporting goods stores and restaurants in the East.

Using the latest technology to determine consumer spending which measures demand, then matching demand with supply, measured by sales figures from the 1,300 businesses already in the East, the research found what is called the Marketplace Gap. This is the amount of money flowing out of the area because there are not enough businesses to satisfy demand.

esri | Retail MarketPlace Profile, New Orleans LA report by Louisiana Commercial Realty

For example, businesses in New Orleans East sell $53 million of groceries annually; however, residents of the East spend $82 million annually, with $29 million leaving the area. That means there is a real need for a grocery store in the East, and forecasted sales would be at least $29 million. Businesses just have to find a way to fill the void and offer products that consumers are already buying elsewhere.

75,000 Residents In the East Buy Lots of Things

The East has a population of 75,969 with 56,089 adults in 27,142 households with a median annual income of $33,431. Where they spend their money can now be measured scientifically, by an calculation called the Market Potential Index. If the number exceeds 100, it means that a good or service is purchased more than average. The Retail Market Potential Analysis shows the number of adults purchasing specific products; for example, the index of 122 for buying cigarettes at a convenience store the last 30 days means that behavior occurs 22% more than normal, which means there is more demand, but there are only 7,488 adults making that purchase. Businesses coming into the area need a higher number of buyers, such as these purchases:

• 33,709 shopped at a convenience store the last 6 months.
• 20,807 purchased a cell phone the last year.
• 40,617 drank bottled water.
• 10,784 bought costume jewelry, but 10,697 bought fine jewelry.

esri | Retail Market Potential, New Orleans LA
Retail Market Potential Analysis

When investgated, Louisiana Commercial Realty found that residents of the East are 32% more likely to buy an Android smartphone and 37% less likely to buy an iPhone. They are big into fast food, with 23,000 visiting a fast food restaurant more than 9 times per month.

• 31,213 attended a movie even though no movie theater exists in New Orleans East.
• 21,112 dined out.
• 7,244 gambled at a casino.
• 39,809 visited a doctor and 27,274 purchased vitamins.
• 49,573 read an electronic or printed magazine.
• Of beef, chicken, turkey, and fish, 18,122 adults purchased beef at the grocery the last 6 months.
• 50,222 spent money at a fast food restaurant the last 6 months, and 40,000 visited a family or steakhouse.
• 10,273 traveled outside the US the last 3 years.
• 18,000 have homeowner’s insurance and only 8,988 have auto insurance.

75,000 Residents in the East Spend Hundreds of Millions

The Retail Goods and Services Expenditures Analysis shows how much money was spent, which can be used to determine market size for new businesses moving to the East.

esri | Retail Goods and Services Expenditures, New Orleans LA

• $138,595,522 was spent on food, with $82,390,590 spent on food at home and $56,204,932 spent dining out.
• $16,503,337 spent on cable and satellite television.
• $3,210,066 spent on membership fees for clubs.
• $10,044,806 spent on furniture and $5,562,838 spent on appliances.
• $7,639,413 spent on child care.
• $3,210,066 spent on club memberships.

What Businesses Are located In New Orleans East, Louisiana report by Louisiana Commercial Realty

Retail, Scientific & Government Are Almost 40%

Of Businesses In The East

There are approximately 1,300 businesses employing 17,000 people in New Orleans East, and the largest sector is retail where 2,488 people are employed. Professional and scientific occupations are the next highest category with 2,351 employees (14% of total), followed by 1,989 government jobs (11%), and hotel, warehousing and health care the remaining employment sectors.

Occupations BY NAICS Category, New Orleans LA

Over 50% of businesses located in New Orleans East have revenues under $1,000,000, with 34% having revenues under $500,000. This creates an opportunity for government assistance to educate small business owners on skills to improve their operations, such as marketing, social media, accounting, banking and human resources. There are 36 businesses with revenues exceeding $5,000,000 so an opportunity exists for the 256 businesses with revenues under $1,000,000 to provide services to these larger businesses, offering reduced transportation costs and a higher level of service.

New Orleans East Businesses By Annual Revenue, Louisiana

Over Half Of Businesses Have Revenues Under $1,000,000

60% of businesses have under 9 employees, with the largest size of less than 4 employees amounting to 29% of all businesses.

New Orleans East Businesses By Employee Size, Louisiana

Most Businesses In The East Are Family Owned

Nearby Universities Are a Competitive Advantage

New Orleans East is close to three Universities and Lakefront Airport. This offers an opportunity to partner with universities on housing and student activities. Enrollment at University of New Orleans has fallen 30% in the last 8 years, and Southern University enrollment has dropped 20% in the last 4 years.

University student population, New Orleans LA
New Orleans Universities, Louisiana

Over 100,000 People Drive Through New Orleans East Every Day

The Louisiana Department of Transportation shows the I-10 traffic at the Crowder Boulevard interchange in New Orleans East averages 125,000 cars per day. This equals the traffic at the CBD Poydras Street interchange, and is 80% of the traffic at Causeway Boulevard and Clearview Parkway.

New Orleans Transportation, Louisiana

What Do New Orleans East Residents Believe?

The Lifestyle Tapestry Analysis utilizes leading-edge technology of data mining to look beyond typical demographics of age, income and education level and drill down to the socioeconomic quality of the neighborhood and what residents believe is important in their life. The Tapestry Analysis recognizes that our country is diversified and uses socioeconomic and geodemographic data to organize neighborhoods into 14 LifeMode Groups and then into 67 Market Segments, which help businesses determine optimum locations for success, more efficient advertising and fly-off-the-shelf inventory that appeals to what consumers in the neighborhood want.

Top Ten Tapestry Segments Site vs. U.S., New Orleans LA

Tapestry Analysis Shows What People Believe Is Important

New Orleans East Tapestry is called Family Foundations, which encompasses 27% of the population compared to 1% normally in the U.S. Members belonging to this Tapestry Segment believe family and faith are most important, and have these traits:

• It is common for older children to continue to live at home.
• Work in health care or government.
• Style is important, and purchases important to them include smartphones and clothing, especially for children.
• Shop at Kmart, Sam’s and Dollar Stores.
• Own 3-4 televisions and use the Internet for entertainment.
• Read magazines.
• Live mostly in New Orleans, Houston, Birmingham and Atlanta.

Louisiana Commercial Realty's Summary and Recommendations

Taking into account the needs of the 75,000 people living in New Orleans East and the 1,300 businesses in the area, there is sufficient demand for these businesses to enter the market and be successful:

Actionable Items

Here are a few actionable ideas that can bring about immediate improvement:

  1. Organize leaders that can bring resources to the area, including:
    • Hotels and restaurants in CBD.
    • Bankers.
    • Churches.
    • Mayor and Governor.
    • Senate, House and committee members.
  2. Bring rapid, frequent direct bus service from a staging area such as Walmart or Lowes to the CBD where residents work.
  3. Offer emergency daycare so residents don’t miss work due to child care.
  4. Utilize existing railroad to provide transportation to/from work in CBD.
  5. Organize micro-finance startups for residents to open new businesses in the area.


Louisiana Commercial Realty LLC, New Orleans LA picture for Cap Rate page

Money is made in commercial real estate by having the vision to create value where none existed before. Since commercial property prices are not transparent like stocks quoted at the bottom of your screen TV, the person who accurately determines value is the one who comes out ahead. Smart commercial real estate investors use a tool called the Capitalization Rate, or Cap Rate, and this article shares the basics and how you can use it to your advantage.

Whether you are investing in stocks or bonds or real estate or certificates of deposit, you do so to realize a greater value in the future, which is determined by two inputs: cash flow and appreciation. With stocks, you might get a dividend and hopefully capital gain, and with CD's you get income and no gain- just your principal back, and with bonds you get interest, or cash flow, and principal back at maturity and maybe a gain or loss if the value of the bond trades higher or lower before maturity. With commercial real estate, you also get rental income and maybe appreciation when you sell.

The smart way to value all of these investments is to calculate the present value of the cash flows. That is, what you would pay today for the future income generated by the investment. If you expect to receive $100 one year from now, how much would you pay for that investment today? First, you have to know your opportunity cost, or how much interest you would earn on your next best opportunity.

Let's say you could earn 3% in a CD for one year, then comparing that to an alternative investment for one year that would pay $100, you would divide the $100 by one plus the interest rate (1 +3%), or 1.03, which is the same as $100/1.03 which equals $97.08. Therefore, you would pay $97.08 today for $100 in one year. 

To value commercial real estate, you use a variation of the same principal. You start with the calculation of the Net Operating Income, which is Gross Income less Operating Expenses, including vacancy and credit losses but not depreciation. You determine value for commercial real estate by dividing the Net Operating Income by the Cap Rate, which can vary by region and by category of real estate, and below is a chart showing the history of average Cap Rates.

The chart shows Cap Rates average 5.4 percent. The way you use this is the following: divide your Net Operating Income by the Cap Rate, and the result is the value. Let's say you have a commercial property that produces $1,000,000 in Net Operating Income, and you then divide that by the Cap Rate: ($1,000,000/5.4%=$18,518,518). Therefore, you would pay $18,518,518 for the property. This assumes no increase in value due to appreciation, but you use the same strategy to calculate an additional appreciation (as an investor though, you don't pay other people for appreciation which you create).  A small change in Cap Rate makes a big difference in value, so this tool is important in valuing commercial real estate.

For more information on valuing commercial real estate, you can get workshops on Commercial Real Estate Financial Analysis at CCIM.

One of the first challenges in opening a business is to find the right location, and the most likely concerns about the location are traffic count, visibility, access and nearby consumer spending patterns. However, one thing that should be high on your to-do list should be to check out the zoning and permitted uses. If you are considering opening a restaurant on Magazine Street, read this first.

zoning permitted uses table, New Orleans LA

For example, let's say you want to open a restaurant on Magazine Street in New Orleans; should be a no-brainer, right? There are lots of restaurants already on Magazine Street and the affluent residents have a propensity to dine out often, making it a perfect location. Almost the entire Magazine Street is zoned by New Orleans Planning Department as HU-B1, shown in orange on the map above. This zoning category allows restaurants as a permitted use. Everything is a go, right? Not so fast.

Overlay Districts

Magazine Street Permitted Conditional Uses HU-B1, New Orleans LA

If you thoroughly research the zoning, you will find permitted uses for each zoning category, as shown in the table above; however, Magazine Street has two "Overlay Districts", which are additional restrictions to a permitted use that require special controls in certain areas of New Orleans that have a special character. One overlay is called CPC Character Preservation Corridor Design Overlay District, and the other is called Magazine Street Use Restriction Overlay District.

The most restrictive is the Magazine Street Overlay which requires approval for a conditional use for any standard restaurant, subject to the New Orleans Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance section 18.20, which requires:

  1. For outdoor areas: show how you will control alcoholic beverage consumption on-premises.
  2. Provide exterior security cameras.
  3. Submit a summary of the location of places of worship, educational facilities, and parks and playgrounds within three-hundred (300) feet.
  4. Submit a noise abatement plan, to be reviewed by the Director of Safety and Permits, and all other relevant City agencies.
  5. The holding bar, an area of a restaurant where alcoholic beverages are prepared and served at the bar, can be no larger than 15% of the floor area, or 300 square feet.
  6. Hours of operation should be:
    1. Sunday thru Wednesday: from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
    2. Thursday thru Saturday: from 6:00 am to 12:00 am (midnight).

Approval For Conditional Use Process

Getting approval for a conditional use requires a city council vote plus a detailed 50-100 page report and approval by the planning department, plus a public meeting of neighborhood homeowners within 300 feet. And once approved, an ordinance must be drafted by the city attorney, then a mandatory 21 day waiting period, then the mayor has to sign the ordinance. Then you have to submit drawings and plans to the New Orleans Planning Department who has to approve the plans and then the Clerk of Court records the plans at the Office of Conveyance. Then you can apply for the required building permits. One drawback is that the city planning commission only meets every two weeks and the city council only meets every two weeks, and each has a different schedule. The result is that the conditional use approval process usually takes about 6 months, and that is if there are no hiccups.

Developments like this can be done, and often this barrier to entry will discourage many. The end result can be a lack of competition. Restauranteurs and developers just need to factor in the lost time and opportunity cost, along with additional interest expense on funding, to determine if projects are feasible and how the zoning can affect the rate of return on your investment.

Starting a business in a new location often means you need to make some changes in the layout so the space is efficient for your business, so you will need two things for a successful project: first, a good contractor and, second, a building permit from the City. This article details the steps in obtaining a permit and why some can be issued quickly and others may take years.

Building Permit ABC's

new orleans building permit

A building permit is meant to protect the City, neighbors and the neighborhood by ensuring compliance with building codes. Just ask Joe Bruno. You need a permit for any repair that changes the structure or use, but there are different requirements for minor changes versus changes over 50% of the assessed value. The only times you do not need a permit involves simple repairs, such as:

  1. Repairing flooring. 
  2. Removing aluminum siding.
  3. Interior painting.
  4. Roofing or gutters
  5. Fences

How To Obtain Your Building Permit

Building permits are issued by the Department of Safety & Permits at City Hall, and while the application can be filed online, your contractor has to make the application.

Here is the information you will need to file for a building permit:

  1. Municipal address of the property
  2. Market value of work to be done (even if you’re doing the work yourself)
  3. Owner’s name, address and telephone number
  4. Architect / Contractor name, address and telephone number (where applicable)
  5. Recorded Act of Sale, if the property has recently changed ownership
  6. Detailed description of work to be performed
  7. Plot plan reflecting all dimensions of the lot and all structures, setbacks to property lines and the location and dimensions of off-street parking spaces. If you are building an addition the square footage of the existing structure and the proposed addition are also required.
  8. Complete plans, stamped with live seals from a Louisiana licensed Architect or Civil Engineer, are required for all new construction, additions, and structural renovations.
  9. Previous/current and proposed use of the structure
  10. Number of floors or levels in the structure
  11. Certificate of Appropriateness, if the property is within a local historic district or a designated landmark
  12. Benchmark Certificate for all new construction or projects where work exceeds 50% of the value of the existing building
  13. Copy of a current Certificate of Registration for your contractor as well as the company name and license number.
  14. Check or money order payable to the City of New Orleans.

That is just for a Building Permit. These are the other permits you will need:

  1. Electrical: if you replace any electrical fixture other than changing light bulbs.
  2. Mechanical: Any repair of the air conditioning system, gas lines or elevators.
  3. Plumbing: Any water pipes replaced or remove any plumbing fixture. Only an Orleans Parish master plumber may apply for this permit.

If you remove paint for a building, first you must notify the Building Division. The penalty for renovating before getting a permit is a fine of twice the building permit price of around $1,000, plus the normal fee.

You may also need approval from the Historic Districts Landmark Commission, The Vieux Carre Commission. If the renovation exceeds 50% of the value of the structure, here are the estimated costs for some of the items needed just to file a permit:

  1. Plot plan showing the lot and dimensions- $2,500 to $5,000
  2. Architectural plans- $10,000 to $25,000
  3. Benchmark certificate-a survey within the last 6 months. $2,000 to $5,000
  4. Foundation drawings-stamped by an architect or engineer. $2,500 to $5,000
  5. Contract for renovation stating the value. Free provided by contractor.

Keep Your Permit In Mind When Negotiating Your Lease

Permits for simple building renovations can take a few weeks but renovations valued at over 50% of the assessed value can take months and even years. Here is one example where a future tenant signed a lease and started the process November 3, 2021 and received the Certificate of Occupancy 18 months later on March 21, 2023. The moral of the story is: when you are negotiating a lease, make sure your lease payments to the landlord start when you receive your certificate of occupancy.

For more information on finding the perfect space for a new location, see our blog at

percent loans denied by race in 2018

African Americans in the New Orleans/Metairie area were denied as much as 85% more loans when compared to white applicants in the same income bracket, according to research by commercial broker Louisiana Commercial Realty. Data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau show that 24,571 loans for New Orleans home mortgages were made totaling $5.3 billion, but African Americans were denied loans totaling $303 million, or approximately 25% of applications, compared to a denial rate of 12% for white applicants.

Reasons For Loan Denial

There are many reasons for loan denial. For home purchase applications, lenders cite low collateral as the most common denial reason. For refinance applications, lenders cite the debt-to-income ratio, insufficient cash, unverifiable information, and incomplete applications as the most common denial reasons. However, these common reasons would not fully explain why the denial rate was higher across the board for any income bracket, even those with income above the median average. Louisiana Commercial Realty researched the data as part of their efforts to revitalize New Orleans East, and commercial broker Robert Hand explains:

"My firm has focused on bringing business to New Orleans East for the last 10 years, so we were curious as to why people were constantly unable to obtain financing to start new businesses even though entrepreneurs had great ideas and the businesses were feasible. When we examined the mortgage numbers, we found that at every level of income, African Americans were denied a much higher percent of loans than whites in New Orleans and Metairie, and also denied loans at a higher rate than the national average."

The study examined 5 income brackets relative to the median income in the New Orleans and Metairie area:

Results show, even in the income bracket 100% to 119% of the New Orleans average, that denial rates were 24% for African Americans, but only 13% for whites. Percentage-wise, that's an 85% difference and totals $303 million. Since the average loan application was $155,000, that would have denied an additional 1,954 home purchases.

Where Mortgage Information Comes From

The mortgage data is available from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, which was established in 2010 under the Dodd-Frank Act and is an independent bureau within the Federal Reserve System, with a $500 million budget financed by up to 12% of Federal Reserve revenues. The Bureau collects the data with the power enabled by the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, enacted by Congress in 1975 and implemented by Regulation C which requires financial institutions to maintain, report, and publicly disclose loan-level information about mortgages. These data help show whether lenders are serving the housing needs of their communities and designed to shed light on lending patterns that could be discriminatory.

For more information on the New Orleans commercial real estate market, read our other articles:

What Businesses Will Thrive In New Orleans East

Tax Incentives Will Revitalize New Orleans East



Most successful retailers looking to start a business have an uncanny instinct for a good location because nearby residents will make their business flourish. But there is a new wave of retailers that back up their gut instinct with the latest technology and utilize a scientific approach with hard data to determine the perfect location for a new business. This article explores how they do it.

Using Multiple Demographics

Let’s look at how the owner of a simple business like a laundromat determined what location would be best for them. The business owner first researched who a typical customer is for a laundromat: someone who rents rather than owns a home and has a minimum wage income. We utilized the CCIM Site To Do Business to map all the neighborhoods in New Orleans and identify both criteria: over 60% of the households rent rather than own, and have an income between $20,000 and $35,000. The map shows how the search identified the large areas shown in blue and narrowed the areas down into Block Groups, which are usually between 600 and 3,000 people. Block Groups are submarkets of Census Tracts which are submarkets of Zip Codes, and are used to pinpoint a more precise retail location.

Don't Forget About The Future

We can also use the data to compare a short list of locations to determine current population density and population growth in the future. Great locations pull from nearby residents with a propensity to buy your goods; however, having a dense population can make up for a lack of demand. Population growth should be a key factor in site selection, and the data is readily available.

Consumer Spending Data

ESRI is a research firm that collects data on consumer spending which can show not only spending in various categories but can also drill down into specific items that may be triggers for a business. Old school site selection was as simple as locating near a McDonald's because they spent the money to research the best locations. So just be near a McDonald's. Today, a small business can get the same insightful data from ESRI demographics and make decisions just like big corporations.

The map easily shows the annual coin-op spending per household by block groups with the darker circles spending the most per household. Also depicted is the block group total spending with the larger circles budgeting over $120,000,000 annually.


The best retail locations are not always the wealthiest areas. Dollar General opened 18,000 stores growing to 30 billion in revenues with locations in modest income areas. Get to know your customers and what they need, then develop your own criteria for who your best customer is. Look for areas that have a dense population that meet that criteria but also are growing. There is a lot of data available which can reduce your risk in selecting the perfect location for your business, and much of it can be obtained for free. Just ask a commercial real estate broker with the CCIM designation and access to the ESRI data to help.

For more information on starting a business, read our blog on "What To Know Before Signing a Lease".

Recently Bed Bath & Beyond announced bankruptcy and are closing all their stores. We will miss the 20% off coupons, but you had to go. Going out of business is a normal part of a free enterprise system that rewards creativity, financial sophistication and the ability to listen to your customers. The penalty for free market failure is death and Bed Bath & Beyond was fatally mismanaged. They took on mountains of debt but the stake through the heart was ignoring the obvious shift in how their customers wanted to do business. While BBY was sitting on their hands, Amazon was inventing one-button shopping and prime delivery, Walmart developed a website that sold products they did not have to inventory and Target ramped up same day delivery. Customers voted with their dollars and BBY has to go.

How Nature's Laws Apply To Business

Businesses in a capitalistic, free market economy within a democratic political system can thrive and produce amazing goods and services because of the "invisible hand", coined by Adam Smith, which states an individual's self-interest causes them to work harder and be more creative and produce a better product at a lower cost so that they reap the profits. A modicum of greed really is good. Consumers benefit and the interests of society are advanced.

Failure Stops The Misallocation of Resources

schlitz, New Orleans LA

But what happens to those businesses that can't adapt to new demands by consumers, that can't evolve and can't adopt new technology?

Like the wildebeests who are unable to outrun the lion, they must die to strengthen the species. We should cheer on their death and wish for fast failures which provide more time for success.

Failures stop the destruction of scarce resources and allow the lifeblood of any business, cash-flow, to be redeployed to a higher and better use. Failure and death stops the misallocation of time and money.

It can happen to big businesses and small. For example, in 1902, Schlitz was the largest selling beer, but couldn't stay big enough to stop an acquisition by Stroh and later Pabst.

eastern airlines, New Orleans LA

Eastern was once one of the big four airlines but ran itself into the ground financially by paying 17% to borrow money and was crushed by labor disputes. It was liquidated in 1991.

Local Brands We Fondly Miss

We feel sad for the businesses no longer here but are still part of our history and fond memories, whether the business was gobbled up because it could not grow to crush its competition, or whether it fell by the wayside because it could not keep up with its customers. There are many examples of both:

time saver stores, New Orleans LA

TimeSaver stores were ubiquitous, but most of their profits were from gas and cigarettes and in the 1980's when the economy changed and gas price margins shrank, the name disappeared when they failed to diversify.

Seafood City once owned the crawfish market and their jingle was on every New Orleanian's lips. Although the commercials were hokey, they were the best word-of-mouth advertising any business would crave. The big store at 1826 North Broad closed in 1994.

HOLMES, New Orleans LA

The list of local brands no longer around extends to Ponchartrain Beach, McKenzie's, Kreegers, Kolbs, K&B, D.H. Holmes, Krauss and Gus Mayer. They were all great businesses. They just could not evolve and adapt. They got old and sick. Then they died. We miss them fondly, but we now vote with our dollars for their successors and competitors who serve us better.


For more information on economics and commercial real estate, pick from over 150 articles on our blog at Louisiana Commercial Realty.


This blog reviews the sale trends the last 3 years in the 4 major sectors of New Orleans commercial real estate, with an explanation of why some sector prices have remained flat while other sectors have seen price increases.

Industrial Sales

prices of industrial sales

The number of industrial listings for sale has declined the last 3 years from 106 totaling 3.5 million square feet to 54 totaling 1.4 million square feet. There has been an average of 3 sales per month at $70/SF on the market for 316 days and 30,000 SF in size. Prices defied the law of economics since supply declined 50% but average sale prices have not increased. The reason is that while square footage declined, so did demand which went to areas outside New Orleans, missing out on the nationwide explosion in warehouse space driven by Amazon and the ecommerce industry.

Office Sales

sale prices of office sector in new orleans

The number of office listings for sale has declined the last 3 years from 135 totaling 1.2 million square feet for sale to 103 totaling 1.1 million square feet, but ranging as low as 700,000 square feet to a high of 1.47 million square feet. There have been an average of 7 sales per month at $133/SF and on the market for 282 days. The average sale size was 10,600 square feet.

Retail Sales

Retail sale listings declined from 174 totaling 1.9 million square feet to 134 listings totaling 1.1 million square feet. The average size was 10,000 SF, on the market 286 days and sold only 6% below the list price. There have been an average of 7 sale transactions per month at $167/SF, but prices have ranged from $47/SF to $200/SF, with an October 2022 outlier peaking with 7 transactions averaging $674/SF. 

Shopping Center Sales

Only 25% of shopping center sale prices are reported, so substituting the list price, the average price was $123/SF for the 17 shopping centers total sold the last 3 years. Listings are scarce, with a monthly high of 15 on the market to a low count of 7 listings available monthly  during the summer of 2022. Total square footage averaged 280,000 with the average size shopping center at 26,000 square feet and taking an average of 449 days to sell. 

There is no training from LREC or NOMAR on how to use technology to comply with email requirements, but here is how to have your required broker name, city & state and license jurisdiction automatically added to the bottom of every email.

For Microsoft Outlook:

email signature


1. Go to File.

2. Then select Options.











3. Then select Mail.

4. Then Signatures.



5. Then under the Email Signature tab select the New button.

6. Type in the name for your New Signature.




edit signature


7. Highlight Select Signature To Edit.

8. Type in signature information under Edit Signature box.

9. Click OK then OK.




Now every email you send will automatically add in the required information.

For IPhone:

  1. Settings
  2. Mail, Contacts, Calendar
  3. Signature
  4. Select Per Account
  5. Type in your information
  6. Select top left button "Mail" then "Back", and your information is saved.

From the LREC Rules and Regulations:

All advertising must contain:

All emails must include on the first or last page:

All website advertising must include on every page:


ccim logoThe Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation is the premier recognition earned by the top 10 % of commercial real estate agents. With 13,000 members in 55 chapters, both in the United States and in 30 countries, the organization provides training in the most complex strategies of commercial real estate. The organization is the PhD of real estate, taking several years to complete and culminating in a 6 hour final exam on every aspect of commercial real estate.

CCIM recently interviewed Louisiana Commercial Realty on the state of the New Orleans commercial market in 2023:


The New Orleans/Louisiana area has seen its share of difficulties in the past few decades—from natural disasters to broader economic troubles. What is the state of the commercial real estate market in early 2023?

Louisiana Commercial Realty broker Robert Hand:

Actually, the New Orleans commercial real estate market has been evolving since the 1970’s. When the oil economy was strong back in the 60’s and 70’s, there were lots of new jobs in the oil industry which created demand for office space over the next decade. In the 1980's, downtown New Orleans saw vibrant new construction of Class A office towers and towns near the Gulf of Mexico witnessed the explosion of industrial space. Our biggest building was One Shell Square, a 51 story, 700 foot tall, office tower.

one shell square

Then the oil industry started regionalizing and New Orleans downsized while Houston upsized. There hasn’t been a large office tower built since then in New Orleans and even today we have high vacancy rates in Class A office towers. The smart thing city leaders did in the 1980’s was build a large convention center so we were able to compete with tourism based economies like Las Vegas. Basically, we swapped $150,000 petroleum engineers for $35,000 waiters and waitresses, but today we are one of the smaller markets that can feed, board and entertain 25,000 dentists having a national convention. Even though the tourism market has ebbed and flowed, we have the nation’s best restaurants and the perfect work force for tourism, so the hotel and restaurant market has been vibrant despite the Covid hiccup.


You’ve handled deals in all major sectors of commercial real estate: Office leasing, Shopping Center, Apartment and Hotel sales, Industrial sales and Retail leasing. What’s the key to staying flexible and agile enough to be active in industrial, retail, multifamily, and so on?

Louisiana Commercial Realty broker Robert Hand:

You have to be an expert at what drives each market and know what your clients want. You have to be creative. We negotiated one of the largest office leases a while back but the tenant wasn’t an office user. They were a hotel. We figured out how to market 3 floors of vacant office space in a soft market to a hotel franchisee. And last year, one of my competitors, SRSA, figured out how to transition a boring shopping center’s vacant Sears store into a major hospital in a $50 million dollar investment.


Your firm emphasizes its use of new technology and data as a way to gain a competitive edge. How important is it for your business to stay on the cutting edge of tech?

Louisiana Commercial Realty broker Robert Hand:

It is vital and I wish we would have caught on to it earlier. There is lots of technology out there for the real estate industry. Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon have it but not mom and pop businesses in small towns. That’s where CCIM can help. We can bring well-thought out analysis to small and mid-sized businesses so they make smarter real estate decisions, using the same technology that the big businesses have.


We heard about a property you handle in New Orleans. How did you leverage technology to help you in this transaction and what insights did you and your clients gain?

Louisiana Commercial Realty broker Robert Hand:

Every marketing plan and marketing presentation I do now has CCIM's demographic data jam-packed in it, and clients love the technology because it gives them valuable information they cannot find anywhere else. We can show them what businesses would be successful at any address. That is vital information and many property owners do not know that data exists and do not have access to it. But as a CCIM, we have access to the data that can help client sand tenants make smart real estate decisions.

We had one listing in New Orleans East, which is an unloved area of New Orleans, but there are 30,000 residents within 5 minutes and 60,000 residents within a 10 minute drive time. We used the CCIM database of consumer spending produced by research firm ESRI to show the property owner and also potential tenants that residents spend $20 million annually on food but food businesses only sell $14 million, so $6 million is purchased outside the area by residents. There's more: $5 million is spent on sporting goods by residents but there is no sporting goods store. There's more: $3.7 million is spent on jewelry but there is no jewelry store. From that demographic insight, we know what potential tenants to target and businesses know what the market share would be and can more accurately forecast sales.


With such a broad scope of work across property sectors and a long successful resume in the industry, what would be your advice to other CRE pros looking to grow their business this year?

Louisiana Commercial Realty broker Robert Hand:

Be an expert and help your clients by educating them on the market and how to make smart real estate decisions.


On a personal note, your bio mentions a gig you had selling dictionaries door-to-door to pay your way through college. What lessons did you learn back then that you still use today? What would you tell young folks curious about commercial real estate to prepare them for a career in this field?

Louisiana Commercial Realty broker Robert Hand:

Selling dictionaries door-to-door paid for my college but required long hours and taught us to work smart. We all wanted to get that award for working 100 hours a week. I got the award but after a week, I wanted to work smarter so I tried using referrals. I would ask my prospect if they knew the neighbor across the street. They would always say yes but we don’t talk much. I would share the names of the families I had sold to. I would say, well the Smiths across the street bought the full dictionary set, the Thomases next door bought the educational set, the Joneses at the corner bought the book on new math, and soon they got the idea that they might be missing out. Today, you can target certain industries and use media like LinkedIn to connect with people you can help. You have to work smarter. (more…)

Whether you rent office space in a Class A office tower, warehouse space to store inventory or retail space for your coffee shop, your lease probably includes terms that are not good for you but that you agreed to anyway. This article exposes common lease mistakes and explains that unless your lease language is clear on every detail, even small mistakes can be very costly.

CPI 1914 TO 2022

 Leases Tied To The Consumer Price Index

Your think inflation is high? We have been there before. The history of linking rent payments to inflation became strategic in the days of 1970’s high inflation when the OPEC oil embargo caused oil prices to skyrocket. Higher oil prices combined with the wage-price spiral to produce a surprising jump in inflation from 3.2% in 1972 to 11% in 1974. This caused landlords to realize that rental income did not retain its purchasing power, which is the economic theory that a dollar in the future should buy the same amount of goods as it does today. Today it is common practice for leases to include consumer price index (CPI) language to protect landlords, but the problem is that there are four consumer price indices and there are different ways to calculate each. Even sophisticated tenants and landlords depend on experts to advise them in lease negotiations.

Will The Real CPI Please Stand Up?

inflation and prices

Here is an example of the lease language used by $2.6 billion market cap Regus PLC  in 3,000 locations:

If this agreement is for a term of more than 12 months, the Provider will increase the monthly office fee on each anniversary of the start date. This increase will be by the local Consumer Price Index or such other broadly equivalent index where a consumer price index is not available locally.

This Regus lease language leaves lots of room for dispute because the consumer price index has several ways of being calculated. The CPI index is produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, under the United States Department of Labor and the four types of consumer price indices are:

All Urban Consumers (Current)-Consists of all urban households in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and in urban places of 2,500 inhabitants or more. Nonfarm consumers living in rural areas within MSAs are included, but the index excludes rural nonmetropolitan consumers and the military and the institutional population.

Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (Current)-Consists of clerical workers, sales workers, protective and other service workers, laborers, or construction workers. More than one-half of the consumer income has to be earned from these occupations, and at least one of the members must be employed for 37 weeks or more in an eligible occupation.

All Urban Consumers (Chained)-The urban consumer population is deemed by many as a better measure of the general public because 90% of the country’s population lives in urban areas. Using chained CPI means the rate at which Social Security benefits tick up would be slower, because it reflects substitutions consumers would make in response to rising prices of certain items. It utilizes a basket of goods and services that are measured changes from month to month; much like a daisy chain. If the cost of a certain form of transportation goes up, people might switch to another kind and this kind of “substitution” is part of what is factored into chained CPI.

Average Price Data– Calculated for specific items such as, household fuel, motor fuel, and food items.  Average prices are best used to measure the price level in a particular month, not to measure price change over time.

The most common CPI Index is the All Urban Consumers Index, but it has two methods used to calculate the numbers: one uses a base period 1982-1984 as 100, and the other method uses a base period of 1967 as 100. Most leases make the mistake of not being clear about which index is used. In addition, the data can be seasonally adjusted or not seasonally adjusted (which is released faster).

consumer price index


Make Your Lease Clear On How The CPI Is Calculated

Here is another example; this language for a medical property that makes the CPI data source very clear:

Consumer Price Index: It is further understood and agreed by and between Lessor and Lessee that, commencing with the first day of the second year of lease, the monthly rental as set forth above will be adjusted upwards at the beginning of the second lease year, and every year thereafter until expiration or termination of the lease using the all urban consumers (CPl-U) United States City Average, All Items, (1967=100) published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor (referred to as "Consumer Price Index").

Compound Your CPI Adjustments or Add Together?

YearCPIRent Annually

Always compound if you are the landlord and never compound if you are the tenant. When adjusting for the CPI, it makes a difference if you add the inflation rate for each year rather than multiply the rate by the previous year. Assume a 5 year lease renewal where the CPI was 3% each year for the previous 5 years. Some landlords multiply 5 years times 3% to get 15% for the increase. For a large property with rent income of $100,000 annually, the adjusted rent would be $115,000; however, if the lease is written so the CPI is compounded, meaning each new year is applied toward the previous year’s CPI, the result is rent of $115,927 in year 5. Your lease renewal should spell out how the CPI is calculated.

How CPI Affects Property Value

cpi adds property value

Our economy today is driven by a different wage/price spiral, due to Covid shortages because almost all of our goods are made in China so when they stopped manufacturing, the shortage caused inflation. Inflation hurts landlords and savers. Most leases build in a fixed rate adjustment in addition to a CPI adjustment because the challenge for landlords is that the CPI since 2000 has averaged 2.5% and 2.4% since 2010. Even 3.6% CPI increase the last 5 years doesn’t keep up with skyrocketing medical care increases.

One strategy that benefits landlords is to include lease language stating the rent adjusts based on the CPI or a fixed rate, whichever is higher. The 30 year table shows how a 4 percent increase versus a 3 percent increase in net rents annually can increase the value of property by 10 times the initial year lease income. Your lease should include language with adjustments based on the CPI but also compared to a fixed rate, whichever is higher. This example in the table shows, assuming current rent income of $100,000, if the higher CPI or a fixed rate difference was just 1 percent, that at an 8% cap rate adds $1,020,168 more market value to the property over a 30 year lifetime.


In conclusion, make sure your lease language details how your rent is adjusted. You can design your table data at the Bureau of Labor website and, if you need help, their phone number is shown on the data release. If you call the number on the press release, the analyst who produced the CPI report will answer any questions. If your property is in outlier data cities such as Detroit, Houston or New Orleans, you can even produce a local Consumer Price Index. Remember to make sure your lease is clear about what CPI is used, how it is calculated and whether you compound your rate, which is why many tenants and landlords hire an expert to advise them. Remember, lease mistakes can be costly.

Read our nationally published articles:

Using Technology To Make Better Real Estate Decisions

The days are long gone when you can just put up a sign and wait for phone calls to sell or find tenants for commercial property in Louisiana. This article dives into LACDB, Loopnet and CREXI to determine the best database that agents utilize to find tenants and buyers, and why the database with the lowest Louisiana members has the most listings.

pie channels success in commercial property

Finding Tenants For Your Commercial Property

The pie chart above shows the 6 common ways, called marketing channels, that agents can sell or lease commercial property, and the highest estimate is that 55% of prospects are found using commercial databases. In Louisiana there are 3 commercial databases, each having its own reach and costs ranging from $1,000 to $30,000 annually. Here is a deep dive into each database and its strengths.



LACDB Database Provides Market Statistics

The Louisiana Commercial Database ( reaches 1,500 commercial agent members in Louisiana who post 8,539 listings, with 4,007 properties for sale and 4,532 for lease. The database also has 314 commercial listings in Mississippi, with 187 for sale and 127 for lease. There are free email blasts to promote properties to agents, limited to one daily but unlimited blasts to clients. LACDB uses Catylist as their software provider plus you have access to a national database called Commercial Exchange which gives you wider distribution. Costs for subscribing to the database are $720 annually and agents can add SiteLink to have their listings automatically populate their website for an additional $800 annually. Agents do not have to be a member of the National Association of Realtors before they can subscribe to the database which reaches mostly Louisiana and Mississippi agents and brokers because subscriptions are the least expensive. LACDB offers market statistics showing the average sale or lease price and days on the market in each of the major categories: office, industrial, retail, shopping centers, hospitality and multi-family.



MCREX Database Provides Market Statistics

Mississippi Commercial Real Estate Exchange has 106 members who are commercial real estate agents and brokers, with 1,284 listings divided into 680 for sale and 604 for lease. The cost is $720 annually, up from $600, to subscribe to the database which allows you to post listings but it is owned by the Mississippi Association of Realtors, so membership in the National Association of Realtors and Mississippi Association of Realtors is required, increasing the cost an additional $454 annually.



Loopnet Has 368 Spaces For Lease In Louisiana has 1,100,000 properties listed by 300,000 commercial agents nationwide. The marketplace gets 11,000,000 unique visitors monthly. For its massive size, only has 656 listings for sale and 368 for lease in Louisiana, and in Mississippi has 788 for lease and 726 for lease.

This database brings in tenants and investors both locally and nationwide because Loopnet was purchased by CoStar recently, giving it national exposure; however, not everyone can see a listing on Loopnet. Agents can post listings without paying to be a Loopnet subscriber, but those listings are marked as Basic which are not shown to anyone except paid CoStar subscribers and very few agents subscribe to CoStar because they require everyone licensed under a Broker name to pay. It gets very expensive and just not feasible for most listings.

Loopnet offers 4 platforms: Basic (free), Silver ($5,000 annually for 4 listings and 10 listings for $8,400 annually), Gold ($8,400 annually for 4 listings), Platinum ($14,000 annually for 4 listings) and Diamond ($30,000 annually for 7 listings). The Diamond level offers:



CREXI Database Has Almost 10,000 Listings In Louisiana & Mississippi has 1 million commercial real estate agent subscribers but an average 2 million buyers, brokers, and tenants each month exploring over $2 trillion of property value nationwide. Crexi has 2,367 properties in Mississippi for sale and 1,212 for lease, and 2,771 for sale in Louisiana and 3,587 for sale. Crexi Pro cost $4,800 annually for unlimited listings.


The Highest Number Of Listings Are Posted By The Database With The Fewest Agents

In utilizing a database to reach tenants and commercial agents directly, not all databases are the same. Most local agents who can bring tenants and buyers to a listing subscribe to since it is the most affordable. LACDB only reaches 1,500 agents so, in the chart above, their agent count column is barely visible when compared to the other databases; however, those are the local agents who often have qualified tenants and buyers as their clients and are seriously looking for property in Louisiana and Mississippi.

CREXI is a fairly new database but already has almost as many Louisiana and Mississippi listings as LACDB plus provides a national reach with 1,000,000 agents and investors as subscribers. Loopnet recently merged with CoStar and anything other than a Basic listing gets Louisiana and Mississippi property in front of prospective tenants and buyers nationally. If your property is above average in size, you may not find tenants or buyers easily because the Louisiana/Mississippi economy no longer drives large companies to the area. If you need to reach larger markets such as Houston, Dallas, Nashville or Miami, the Crexi database is for you.


There are 22,544 real estate agent stories in the naked city. This is one of them. We've virtually hired James Franciscus to narrate the story and give insight to the Louisiana real estate industry, ranging from what city has the most agents to how long have most agents been licensed and how was the industry affected by Covid.

How Many Years Have You Been An Agent

map issuance year

The oldest living Louisiana real estate agent was licensed in 1950, and only 37 joined during the next 20 years. Licensing then took off, doubled in 1970, then tripled by 1971, just in time for the nastiest recession ever from 1973 to 1975 when OPEC made oil prices increase four-fold, unemployment rose from 4% to 9%, and mortgage rates rose from 7% to 18% the next 8 years.

mortgage rates since 1970

Covid Was Good For Real Estate Licensing

The first case of Covid was January 20, 2020, in Washington state, but real estate licensing in Louisiana skyrocketed by 6700 people, or 30 percent, during the next two years. Covid was good to real estate agent licensing. The Louisiana Real Estate Commission received $1.7 million from license fees, plus if you wanted to post your listings you had to join the National Association of Realtors, which Louisiana agents paid $1.3 million, and if you wanted to post commercial listings, you had to pay $720 to LACDB or MLS listing fees of $1,270 which included $59 to lobby politicians.

50 Agents in California Licensed in Louisiana

Louisiana real estate agents live all over the U.S., with 50 real estate agents in California to 138 agents in Florida, totaling 1,403 Louisiana licensed agents that do not live in Louisiana.

map agents by city rev

Louisiana Real Estate License Types

The 16,185 Louisiana licensees the Real Estate Commission calls salespeople are managed by 2,815 brokers in 238 branches. There are still 81 time share developers with Louisiana real estate licenses.

pie license type

Over 50 percent of Louisiana real estate licensees live in 3 cities: New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Metairie.

pie city agent count shadow bevel both 1.2

Last But Not Least: Which Firm Is The Biggest?

Latter & Blum is the biggest, of course. Real estate companies are called Supervisors by the Real Estate Commission, and Latter & Blum controls 7.8 percent of the market. The top 2 percent of real estate companies control 50 percent of the market.

pie top 10 supervisors3


front 5501 crowder

Louisiana Commercial Realty was recently hired to bring a business to the vacating Family Dollar Store at 5501 Crowder Boulevard in New Orleans East, having worked for the last decade to promote and revitalize the area. Commercial broker Robert Hand explains:

"This property is the least expensive 14,000 square foot, good-looking, retail building anywhere from MSY airport to Slidell. The rent is only $12 per square foot for a stand alone structure, plus it offers 70,000 square feet of paved parking. There is opportunity for the right business, and we have utilized the latest technology to research what businesses will do well in this location."

Opening a Business Is An Expensive Gamble

The retail area on Crowder has lots of new tenants including Planet Fitness, Pizza Hut, Dollar General, Subway, Little Caesars, and the largest church in the South: Franklin Avenue Baptist Church. One of the criteria that businesses look for before they invest millions in opening a new location is population: businesses need to know if the neighborhood has enough spending power to make it feasible. Louisiana Commercial Realty provides businesses with that research, including how much nearby residents spend on goods the business sells.

Long gone are the days where a business opened up and hoped they would have customers, because it is very expensive to open a business. There are costs of lease payments, advertising, setting up inventory, plus permits and construction to convert the space into a layout that works. These costs can add up to millions, which makes it a big risk to open a business.

Louisiana Commercial Realty reduces the normal risk in a business trying to revitalize an area by providing a Retail Marketplace Profile, which uses the latest technology to determine consumer spending and retail sales, which determines the supply and demand, and allows a business to look for gaps in spending by consumers (demand) and sales by existing retailers (supply). From that data a business can determine the Leakage Factor which presents a snapshot of retail opportunity.

Retail Marketplace Profile Reduces Risk

Retail Marketplace Profile

The Leakage Factor is a measure of the relationship between supply and demand that ranges from +100 (total leakage of dollars) to -100 (total surplus). A positive value represents 'leakage' which means consumers are spending money on goods and services but not within the target area, resulting in dollars flowing outside the area.  A negative value represents a surplus of retail sales, which means consumers are drawn in from outside the trade area. Leakage presents an opportunity for a business to capture those dollars flowing outside the trade area, and the Retail Gap column in the table shows the difference between demand and supply which can be an estimate of annual sales for a business in this location.

When Louisiana Commercial Realty did the research they found within a 5 minute drive time for 5501 Crowder, that general merchandise stores sell $20 million annually but there is $35 million spent by consumers. That $15 million gap provides an opportunity for that type of business to operate from 5501 Crowder. Within a 10 minute drive time there is enough demand to support a fine jewelry store since $3.7 million is spent annually, and $10 million spent outside the area on sporting goods and musical instruments. The data show that these businesses located at 5501 Crowder will be very successful:

successful businesses identified in new orleans east

For more information on the Retail MarketPlace data, view the Methodology Statement.

Demographics Only Tell Half The Story

When we analyze demographics, usually we identify 3 areas within a 3, 5 and 10 mile radius from the target site, but this does not work in New Orleans because we have Lake Ponchartrain to the north and the Mississippi River to the south which biases that data. Instead, we utilize drive times, which is the time it takes to drive those distances. In the 5, 10 and 15 minute drive time map, the 5 minute drive time covers between the Industrial Canal and I-610 and above Almonaster Boulevard to the south. The 10 minute drive time extends into Gentilly Terrace to the west and Michoud to the east. The 15 minute drive time extends to include the French Quarter and Veterans Boulevard to Causeway.

income profile table


Within a 5 minute drive time, the 2022 New Orleans East population of 28,139 has an average household income of $53,864 and a median age of 32. In addition, 31% of households had income over $50,000 and 87% of the 11,914 housing units are occupied with 46% of households owning homes.

pie income


the wildebeest must die

The beauty of a free market economy is that you can own a business, grow it and benefit from your work because capitalism allows ownership of property, but it's not like that in other countries. Some still remember how government in Cuba took over property overnight, from homes to casinos, that was never recovered. China and Russia have similar histories, but there is a downside of having a free market economy: owning a business does not guarantee it will survive.

Businesses Must Adapt

Recently, Covid brought misery to many businesses in our New Orleans tourism-based economy, but it also forced businesses to adapt, learning more about what their customers wanted and thinking outside the box to find a way to stay in business. For every restaurant that closed, there was another who treated staff like family who helped them keep the doors open. For example, the Winn-Dixie on Veterans blocked off part of their parking lot, not for customers, but for employees to get gas.

Restaurants learned to schedule work time according to when employees could promise to show up and work. Some restaurants shed paying for delivery since Uber took away profits, and developed their own delivery service. Other restaurants learned to prepare meals and have containers that kept foods hot during delivery. So the creative businesses must adapt to survive but the unimaginative, set-in-their-ways business fail, and fail they must so not to allocate resources inefficiently. And so was the Esplanade Mall in Kenner, Louisiana.

Esplanade Mall Was Sick Long Before It Died

esplanade mall

Esplanade Mall was sick long before it died. Mall owners failed to see a sea of change in demographics after Katrina. Back then, if you needed a roof repaired on your house, you couldn't get it done for months and months. There were not enough roofers to do the work.

Thank goodness we had help from Texas contractors who had the employees willing to do the work. I had contractors asking me to help them lease 20,000 square foot warehouses so they could have space for storage of roofing materials and for 20 roofers to sleep. "That's against code", I reminded them, but it was a clear example of what was happening.

Some of the workers who repaired your roof after Katrina were from Honduras who came here for a better life. They ended up living in Kenner which was the only place you could buy a house for $125,000. Kenner was affordable for the minimum wage residents we had. Thirty years later, we are still struggling to have enough affordable apartments for the minimum wage restaurant workers that drive our tourism economy.

The Job Of Mall Owners Is To Get Successful Tenants

dead stores

The Esplanade Mall was 20 years old by that time but there was a demographic shift of residents in Kenner, and the Esplanade Mall owners failed to see it and adapt. Anchor tenants then were DH Holmes, Godchaux's, Mervyn's and Macy's a year later. Over the next decade, Macy's, Mervyn's and Godchaux's filed bankruptcy, Holmes was bought out, and the Mall owners failed to see the change in consumer spending and buying power of nearby residents.

Mall owners should have brought in tenants that offered goods and services that residents wanted. But rather than research what people would buy, they brought in tenants that sold what they wanted to sell. The result is that Esplanade Mall had to die.

New Owner Brings New Life

This month the Esplanade Mall was purchased by Eddie Ni who has 20 years' experience with Windfall Group in Cleveland, Ohio, developing over 6 million square feet of commercial property. Eddie will convert Esplanade Mall into 800 apartments and new retailers. asked Louisiana Commercial Realty broker Robert Hand about the $10 million purchase price financed by a $5.2 million loan from the seller:

"The good news for Kenner is that somebody has confidence enough to loan the money for this to happen," Hand said. "And ironically, the only person that had confidence is the person that didn't want the property anymore".


3401 west esplanade office and retail building

This is a story about property and people but also protecting the income of a retiring couple. In 2010, Louisiana Commercial Realty was asked by a residential agent to help find a buyer for a 2 story commercial retail and office property in Metairie, near Lakeside Shopping Center. We marketed the property and advertised heavily, selling the property for $830,000. Then we helped the new owner lease two vacant spaces, one space to a nail salon and the other to a dentist. Recently, that new owner sold the building for $1.5 million to a working couple investing their retirement savings in hopes of having rental income that would last their lifetime.  The income would come from the nail salon and dentist who are still paying rent to this 3rd owner, but missing is the now vacant 2nd floor space, so the retirement income is $82,000 less than expected. The owner reached out to Louisiana Commercial Realty, finding us online and looking to benefit from our higher level of services to property owners. Here is how we started working on the project.

Step 1-Leasing Office Space

floor plan

The first step in leasing office space is to put thought into the property to determine what the competitive advantage is. This means determining the strength of the property, which sometimes could be location but also could be the layout of the floor space, or parking, or proximity to highways, or humidity and temperature control, but not price-don't make price the only thing that is attractive.

Looking at this vacant space floor plan, the 13 offices are unusual in today's hyper-cyber work force. Long gone are the private offices because in demand today are open working areas where teams can collaborate and bosses can take a big conference room, put in 3 picnic tables, and have 20 employees working in the space previously for one. So this private office layout is antiquated, but there are industries that still prefer privacy. These 13 offices allow for 7 senior workers and 6 support staff, which is preferred by: attorneys, accountants, insurance and financial advisors. In this 1st step, we prepare a 10 page Marketing Plan which identifies these target markets, how we are going to reach them, and how we can reduce the normal 6 months time of lost rental income.

Take the first target market: attorneys, who we believe don't read their emails, so we snail-mail them a letter. There are 2,300 attorneys in New Orleans so we culled the list down to 600 for those with 7 or less partners and mailed each a letter and followed up with a phone call to let them know the space is available. We execute the same process for all four target markets. We don't know any other commercial real estate firm in the state that offers this accelerated process to their clients.

Step 2-What Is The Competition

There are 201 spaces for lease in Metairie that compete for tenants for this vacant space, and the map shows there are 12 properties near Causeway and West Esplanade, three pockets of 4 vacant properties near Veterans and I-10 and 2 available properties on West Napoleon.

listed for lease


Step 3-How To Price Vacant Space For Lease

A decision on pricing must include an analysis of the market which is every nearby property that a tenant might consider when shopping for commercial property. The most difficult thing for owners to do is put themself in the tenant's shoes. Everyone thinks their kid is the smartest. As advisors, we provide valuable information to help our clients make better decisions, so in step 3 we survey the market and determine every single property that someone might also consider, then condense that data into something easily understandable. The result is a chart of the frequency of rent rates:

Frequency of Rent Rates

The data show that the lowest rents bundle at $15.80 to $16.60 per square foot, the middle group is around $19 per square foot and the top of the range is $23 to $24 per square foot.

Step 4-What Is The Metairie Lease Market

In the Metairie Office market, as of December 2022, there are 255 properties totaling 957,000 square feet for sale at $149 per square foot and for lease at $20.22 per square foot and have been on the market an average of 250 days.


market statistics metairie


Of the 255 properties, 243 are for lease totaling 884,000 square feet and only 12 are for sale. The month of December saw 8 of those 243 spaces leased at a 5 percent discount or $19 per square foot.

Days On The Market Table

Step 5-Commercial Databases

You can reach tenants 90% of the time as they search online for space for lease, and get in their search results on page 1 using these 3 main commercial databases:


The Louisiana Commercial Database ( reaches 1,500 commercial agent members in Louisiana who have posted 8,539 listings, divided into 4,007 properties for sale and 4,532 for lease. The database also has 314 commercial listings in Mississippi, with 187 for sale and 127 for lease. Costs for subscribing to the database are $700 annually and agents must pay approximately $450 annually to join the local Association of Realtors before they can subscribe to the database. This database reaches Louisiana and Mississippi agents and brokers because subscriptions are the least expensive.

Loopnet has 1,100,000 properties listed by 300,000 commercial agents nationwide. The marketplace gets 11,000,000 unique visitors monthly. For its massive size, only has 656 listings for sale and 981 for lease in Louisiana, but this database brings in tenants and investors both locally and nationwide. Loopnet offers subscribers just 10 listings for $8,400 annually and promises subscribers page 1 search results for a diamond subscription of $30,000 annually, making it out of reach for most local agents.

CREXI has 1 million commercial real estate agent subscribers but an average 2 million buyers, brokers, and tenants each month exploring over $2 trillion of property value nationwide. Crexi has 2,561 for sale in Louisiana and 3,126 for lease. Crexi Pro cost $2,700 annually.

Step 6-Execute The Plan

Our 5 core marketing tools, called “channels”, work in a cohesive fashion to bring maximum exposure to commercial property. For example, office tenants reach us about 90% of the time through internet searches so our marketing process drives that traffic to our Louisiana Commercial Realty website, plus commercial databases such as LoopNet, CoStar, Crexi and LACDB. The databases promote your listed space for lease, which gets the space in front of qualified prospects and entices them to ask for more information.

Normally we get your space in front of 4,000 to 5,000 office prospects. We capture the contact information of prospective tenants and follow up. Our direct targeting of prospects in addition to our affiliations with thousands of CCIM and SIOR members, who are the top commercial agents nationwide, tend to shorten the marketing period and deliver results more quickly, saving time and restoring income that normally is lost.

marketing channels

We provide regular reports showing the activity, which brings accountability to the marketing process. Property owners will know how many people are searching for property in this market and, of those, how many have inquired about their property and, of those, how many have reviewed the marketing presentation and toured the space. We update clients whenever the property needs to be toured and we always accompany prospective tenants.


logo ICSC

ICSC Is Where Shopping Center Owners and Tenants Meet

ICSC is the premier organization for shopping center owners and real estate professionals, with over 70,000 members in 100 countries, so  Louisiana Commercial Realty is excited to promote New Orleans at their Dallas conference this week and encourage national companies to bring their business to the Big Easy.

ICSC Conference  Over 2,000 shopping center owners, big and small, attend the Texas oriented conference where property owners and prospective tenants are able to connect and discuss doing business together. Almost every city in Texas and these well-known companies are represented:


Adaptive Reuse

Adaptive Reuse

Since New Orleans is over 300 years old, Louisiana Commercial Realty zeroed in on the "Adaptive Reuse" session, where developers shared their secrets to getting old properties back into commerce. Wildcat Management explained how they were able to buy a historic building from the city for $1 and move it brick by brick to a impoverished neighborhood and put the property back into commerce and make the project feasible. Every developer shared that none of their projects would have been feasible without tax incentives and help from local economic development.

Louisiana Commercial Realty first put Adaptive Reuse into action several years ago with three projects in New Orleans.

Grocers Always Adapt

Kroger, represented by Rita Williams, Director of Economic Development, shared how grocers are integrating technology into future plans. RFID's are dead because artificial intelligence can now analyze a shopping cart full of items and determine a price of an item by the shape of its box. Grocers all shared they are working to be nimble and always adapt. For example, Kroger is testing a social hour with a wine bar and local music in concert. The hope is to attract shoppers to the store for events they enjoy, and they will end up buying groceries. One challenge to adapting is how to reinvent at 120,000 square foot store.

Finding Solutions To Labor Woes


Kroger explained that labor is still costly and hard to keep, but what employers are learning is how to be flexible, such as asking workers what schedule can they commit to working, and offering tuition reimbursement. Online sales are up 10% at Kroger, but Amazon has exploded with online visit growth 10 times that of Kroger.





It took over two years for Louisiana Commercial Realty to finally sell 18 acres of land in Covington, but there were some big obstacles to overcome including a wetlands determination, city council resistance, lawsuits between family owners and even a breach of an agreement by the city to provide utilities. The $2.2 million sale of the Privette land site at highway 25 and 190 was one of the largest parcels sold that was zoned as Regional Commercial and allowed a wide variety of commercial uses including medical clinics, multi-family, hotels, nursing homes and drive-thru restaurants.

Originally Covington Airport

The 18 acres comes with an interesting history, having been part of a 100 acre site owned by Richard Privette and his brother in the early 1900’s and was originally Covington’s first airport. The brothers built an airplane powered by a model T engine and flew it successfully in the 1930’s until it was destroyed by hitting a stump on the land where the Taco Bell now stands.

Grandpaw Privette's Model T Engine Airplane

Grandpaw Privette's Model T engine airplane

While the average time it takes to sell vacant commercial land in Covington is 12 months, Robert Hand, a broker with Louisiana Commercial Realty, explains why it took almost 3 years to secure a buyer:

“We started by creating a marketing plan that included advertising the land to developers locally but also nationally. We stressed the strengths of the site, which were the size and demographics. Of the 122 vacant properties for sale, only 6 were this large and zoned for apartment development. We got the property in front of thousands of potential buyers and had the land under contract within six months, but that buyer was not able to secure financing, and after tying up the property for 18 months, they terminated the purchase. The silver cloud is that because we draft our own purchase agreements, we were able to get the buyer to pay $100,000 to our client for time extensions, and they were able to keep that money even though that sale fell through. We then re-marketed the property and were able to bring in two more offers within 8 months.”

The airport is long gone, and the land now is scattered with fast food restaurants, apartments and grocery store shopping centers, as a result of a growing Covington population. One of the common ways to measure population growth is by traffic counts, and the data show the intersection of highway 190 and 25 sees approximately 22,000 cars per day which is the highest count of any highway that feeds from Interstate 12.

Drilling Down Into Demographics

Developers looking for potential sites will closely analyze population trends and this makes Covington an attractive location for retail and multi-family development. According to ESRI, a demographic research firm, the Covington population within a 5 to 10 minute drive time of the site is projected to exceed 14,500 in 2023, with 5,434 households that average $58,000 household income.

Covington 5-10 Minute Drive Time Demographics

covington demographics

Since developing a large parcel of land can include apartments, retail stores and shopping centers, with a total investment between $25 and $50 million, buyers first examine population trends to make sure their development is feasible. Broker Hand explains:

“We use the latest technology to determine what developments are feasible by examining consumer spending patterns; for example, within a 5 minute drive time of the site, the population spends more than average on gluten-free labels, asthma and arthritis drugs, contact lenses, and visits the ear, nose and throat doctor or their gastroenterologist more often than others in St. Tammany Parish. We discovered that health care spending was a major expense, with an average $39,000 annually spent on nursing home care, which was not only higher than the parish average but also higher than the national average. That research allowed us to target those markets as buyers.”

Where Do Nearby Residents Spend Their Money?

Where Do Nearby Residents Spend Their Money?

Tapestry Analysis Helps Buyers Reduce Risk

In addition to income, age and population trends, the latest technology allows buyers to understand the lifestyle of the nearby population, which in turn helps visualize what businesses are feasible to serve the existing population and therefore might be the most successful. This technology, called Tapestry Analysis, breaks down the entire U.S. population into 62 categories, depending on leisure activities, spending, interests and a person’s goals and desires. The 3 most common tapestry groups for this site are Soccer Moms, Family Foundations and Salt of the Earth.

Tapestry Groups

Tapestry Groups

Soccer Moms is defined as an affluent, family-oriented market with a country flavor. Residents are partial to new housing away from the bustle of the city but close enough to commute to professional job centers. Life in this suburban wilderness offsets the hectic pace of two working parents with growing children. They favor time-saving devices, like banking online or housekeeping services, and family-oriented pursuits.

What Is A Soccer Mom?

What Is A Soccer Mom?


In summary, gone are the days of just putting a sign up to sell commercial property. Today, buyers can use sophisticated technology to determine consumer spending which determines what businesses will succeed, allowing them to be more confident about investing their $50 million.

After a two year search for the perfect location, the owner of Sukho Thai restaurant finally found a permanent home, with some help from commercial real estate broker Louisiana Commercial Realty who researched potential locations and provided data on which neighborhoods spent the most money dining out.  Broker Robert Hand with Louisiana Commercial Realty explains how they got started, “We helped Sukho Thai in the past when they wanted to expand to the French Quarter and we negotiated the acquisition of the 2200 Elysian Fields location which has been very successful, so they asked us to help them purchase a building rather than continue to rent space at their Magazine location.”

Sukho Thai Pivots During Covid

While many restaurants closed due to Covid and everyone struggled with finding employees, Sukho Thai pivoted and focused on take-out and delivery. During Covid, their revenues actually increased, with take-out and delivery increasing more than in-house dining decreased. They even adapted delivery to in-house since Uber Eats, DoorDash and Waitr costs were shared by the restaurant and almost eliminated any profit.

The Search For The Perfect Location

The search for a permanent home initially included every building listed for sale on Magazine Street and even a few unlisted buildings that Louisiana Commercial Realty knew could be a good fit. After flushing out those possibilities, which took about a year, the search expanded to the Lakeview area with a few possibilities on Harrison Avenue. Negotiations with property owners hit a dead end, so Louisiana Commercial Realty widened the search to Harahan and then to the Kenner area, which showed as having a population that spends less money on dining out annually per family but offers a larger population, so the total spending numbers are attractive for a restaurant. The table below is one example of the research, showing the Williams Boulevard target site as having the lowest household income but has the highest total spending at dinner and lunch due to the higher total population.

Comparison of Total Spending on Dining Outtable comparing locations showing spending dining out

Louisiana Commercial Realty also provides a "Restaurant Market Potential Report" that includes what restaurant brand residents visit most often, how much they spend, and how that compares to a national average. The table below shows an analysis of Sukho Thai's current Magazine Street location. Broker Hand says, "The data available to restaurants today is spectacular. We can not only tell the total spending on dining out, we can discover how many adults visit a restaurant, how much the average family spends per visit, how often they visit, and the brand of restaurant they visit most often, and we can zero in on any 1, 3, 5 and 10 mile radius or drive times for any location."

Drilling Down In The Data

The data show that at this location, 2,111 adults, which are only 11 percent of the population with one mile, spent $101 to $200 per visit, which was the highest spent at a family restaurant. Also, within the last 6 months, we know that the most popular type of restaurant served pizza. This is measured by the Market Potential Index (MPI) which tells the relative likelihood of the adults in the specified trade area to exhibit certain purchasing patterns compared to the United States.  An MPI of 100 represents the U.S. average, so a score of 154 tells us that a pizza type restaurant in this location is visited 54 percent more than average.

Dining Out Spending-Detail Analysis

Mississippi Commercial Realty, a Hattiesburg based commercial real estate brokerage firm, announced the sale of the 60,000-square-foot River Ridge Shopping Center in Picayune, Mississippi, to Rouses Markets, which is the fastest growing family-owned grocer in the United States. The Picayune store will be the first venture for Rouses north of the Gulf Coast in Mississippi and adds to Rouses’ 64 stores stretching from Lafayette to Orange Beach, Alabama. The new Rouses Market store will occupy the 36,000 square feet within the property that was previously home to a Winn Dixie grocery store.

The new location was made possible because Winn Dixie closed their Picayune store and the space has been vacant for years. That’s when the shopping center owner, who was unsuccessful in leasing the space, hired Mississippi Commercial Realty to find a tenant. Commercial real estate broker Robert Hand, with Mississippi Commercial Realty, explained how they do things differently: “Gone are the days of just putting a sign up. In this market, the data show the average time to sell or lease commercial property is twelve months, so we offer a more aggressive marketing strategy that tends to shorten that lost time. We use the latest technology to identify the most qualified buyers and tenants. For example, with the Picayune property, our research showed consumer spending within a 15-minute drive time was $56 million in the ‘Food at Home’ category (See Table)”.

Retail Demand Table by Mississippi Commercial Realty

How Much Do People Spend On Food Within 15 Minutes Drive Time?

Hand explains, “So we reached out to all the grocers and made sure they knew the vacant space would make a feasible location. Within three to six months after starting, we were able to get two offers to buy the shopping center and also two offers to rent all the remaining space.”

Initially, Rouses was interested in just leasing the vacant space, but when they looked at the value they would create by occupying the vacant space, they realized owning the entire shopping center was a smarter business decision. Rouses plans to make significant improvements to the entire shopping center and expects customers will also enjoy the services of the other stores: Subway, Century 21, CVS Pharmacy, Mississippi Home Care, Ciao King Restaurant and Nail Expressions.

New Orleanians always ask why we can’t get businesses to move here. The answer is that people don't move here. Businesses follow population but population comes first. If you want to revitalize areas such as New Orleans East, you need more people to move there and New Orleans businesses to stop leaving. The numbers are backed up by solid research from The Data Center in their publication: New Orleans Population Shifts.

population change, New Orleans LA - New Orleans Businesses page

People Have Been Leaving New Orleans Since 1980

New Orleans has over 150,000 fewer residents than in 2000 and remains at less than 80% of its pre-Katrina population. Jefferson Parish’s population is relatively stagnant, gaining 8,229 residents this past decade but remains just under 15,000 shy of its pre-Katrina total. St. Tammany Parish continues to boom, adding 30,830 residents this last decade after gaining 42,472 between 2000 and 2010.

We need a plan to grow New Orleans. It’s easy to do. We built a tourism economy based on people coming to visit to enjoy our music and food and fun but we aren’t doing what is needed to get them to stay. We just need to do what other cities are doing to attract people and take positive action. If you look at Atlanta, Austin, Houston and Nashville, they are focusing on taxes, crime and education and the results are jobs and population explosion which leads to business growth.

For more information on what businesses are feasible for the new New Orleans, read our article: What Businesses Will Thrive In New Orleans.

CPI CHART for Critical Inflation Theory page

A few weeks ago the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced inflation rose 7.9 percent from February 2021 to February 2022, the highest increase since January 1982. That was the month Dwayne Wade, Pete Buttigieg, Kate Middleton and the Commodore 64, an 8-bit home computer, were born, and the year Michael Jackson released "Thriller", Epcot opened and the movie ET made its debut. Unemployment in 1982 was 9.7 percent, the prime rate was 17 percent and Ronald Reagan was president. It was 40 years ago, so today's high inflation period is more of an outlier than a persistent trend. In this article, Louisiana Commercial Realty looks at the components of inflation and how the way you quote it can be misleading.

12-month percentage change, consumer price index, 1980-2022, New Orleans LA for Critical Inflation Theory page

Groups That Comprise The Consumer Price Index

Price increases for gasoline, shelter, and food were the largest contributors to the Consumer Price Index, which is how we measure inflation. The chart above shows inflation over the last 12 months and the major components that comprise the index. Here is how those components have performed:

For the month of February 2022:

For the 12 months ending February 2022:

The table below shows the components of the CPI and their performance each month from August 2021 to February 2022, plus each component's price increase for the last 12 months. Notice how each month can have a wide variety of price increases but can also have price decreases. Don't be misled when your TV news announces an inflation number for one month and extrapolates that into an annual CPI number. You cannot do the math that way.

components of consumer price index from August 2021 to February 2022, New Orleans LA


The food index increased 1.0 percent in February and the food at home index increased 1.4 percent over the month. All the major food group indexes increased in February:

  1. The food at home index rose 8.6 percent over the last 12 months, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending April 1981.
  2. The index for food away from home rose 6.8 percent over the last year, the largest 12-month increase since December 1981.
  3. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased 13.0 percent over the last year as the index for beef rose 16.2 percent.
  4. The index for full service meals rose 7.5 percent.
  5. The index for food at employee sites and schools, in contrast, declined 40.7 percent over the past 12 months, reflecting widespread free lunch programs.


Price increases for the month of February varied for these components:

For the last 12 months:

All Items Less Food and Energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 6.4 percent over the past 12 months, with all of its major component indexes rising. The shelter index rose 4.7 percent over the last 12 months, its largest 12-month increase since May 1991. Several transportation indexes showed large increases over the past year, including used cars and trucks (+41.2 percent), new vehicles (+12.4 percent), and airline fares (+12.7 percent).

For February 2022:

In Summary

Consumer Price Index 1914-2021, New Orleans LA

The Consumer Price Index is calculated as a single number but is actually 8,018 items grouped into major components which are each affected by supply and demand in their own way, resulting in some components increasing in price rapidly while at the same time others can decrease in price. Since 1914, the CPI has only been above 7.9 percent 12 percent of the time, so the inflation period we have only experienced the last 6 months will not last much longer. In the last 108 years, there have only been 7 periods when inflation was 7.9 percent or higher, with the average period lasting 26 months. These were all periods experiencing an imbalance of supply and demand due to external forces of world wars or a sudden OPEC oil embargo. The beauty of a free market economy is that these supply and demand imbalances are eventually corrected by entrepreneurs and businesses, each acting in their own best interest and motivated by ownership which provides an incentive to compete to provide the best product at the lowest price, which results in bringing prices back into equilibrium.

For more info on how inflation affects commercial real estate, read our article:
3 Common Mistakes In Every Lease

CPI CHART SINCE 1914, New Orleans LA  Real Estate Lease

Whether you rent office space, a warehouse, or a retail store, your real estate lease probably has language that ties the rent you pay to the Consumer Price Index. The idea is meant to benefit only the landlord, and helps the rental income retain its purchasing power. The problem is that there is more than one Consumer Price Index and there are different ways to calculate each, so make sure your lease agreement contains language that is very specific. One example of lease language referencing the CPI is:

example of  Real Estate Lease language referencing the CPI, New Orleans LA

Five Things Every Real Estate Lease Should Make Clear

  1. It Is Clear Where The CPI Is Published-If rent is tied to an index, what index is used and where can you find it? The above lease language spells out that the rent is adjusted by the Consumer Price Index, and tells the information is published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is found easily online.
  2. It Is Clear What Type of Consumer Price Index Is Used-There are 4 methods used to calculate the Consumer Price Index, detailed below.
  3. It Is Clear Whether The CPI Is Adjusted For Seasonal Changes-The CPI can be adjusted for changing climatic conditions, production cycles, model changeovers, holidays, and holiday sales which can cause variation in prices. For example, oranges can be purchased year-round, but prices are significantly higher in the summer months when the major sources of supply are between harvests.
  4. It Is Clear Whether The CPI Is National or Local-The CPI publishes unadjusted price indexes at the national, metropolitan area, and regional levels. So you could drill down and calculate your CPI based on your city’s MSA. This would be more meaningful if your economy is an outlier, such as Houston, Detroit, or New Orleans.
  5. It Is Clear How The Adjustment Is Applied-The CPI adjustment can applied to a lease payment monthly, quarterly, or annually, but be clear about what period of CPI is used. It is best that landlord and tenant agree the CPI is for the previous 12 months and applied to the last rent payment.

The 4 CPI Calculation Methods Explained:

CPI Databases, New Orleans LA

Method #1-All Urban Consumers (Current)-Consists of all urban households in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and in urban places of 2,500 inhabitants or more. Nonfarm consumers living in rural areas within MSAs are included, but the index excludes rural nonmetropolitan consumers and the military and institutional population.

Method #2-Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (Current)-Consists of consumer units with clerical workers, sales workers, protective and other service workers, laborers, or construction workers. More than one-half of the consumer units income has to be earned from these occupations, and at least one of the members must be employed for 37 weeks or more in an eligible occupation.

Method #3-All Urban Consumers (Chained)-The urban consumer population is deemed by many as a better representative measure of the general public because 90% of the country’s population lives in urban areas. Using chained CPI means the rate at which Social Security benefits tick up would be slower, because it reflects substitutions consumers would make in response to rising prices of certain items. Therein lies the “chained” part of the name. The metric utilizes a basket of goods and services that are measured changes from month to month; much like a daisy chain. If the cost of a certain form of transportation goes up, for example, people might switch to another kind. This kind of “substitution” is part of what is factored into chained CPI.

Method #4-Average Price Data-Calculated for specific items such as household fuel, motor fuel, and food items from prices collected for the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Average prices are best used to measure the price level in a particular month, not to measure price change over time.

Consumer Price Index-Average Price Data

How Is The CPI Calculated

In calculating the CPI, the urban portion of the United States is divided into 38 geographic areas called index areas, and the set of all goods and services purchased by consumers is divided into 211 categories called item strata. This results in 8,018 (38 × 211) combinations.

The CPI is calculated in two stages. The first stage is the calculation of basic indexes, which show the average price change of the items within each of the 8,018 CPI item-area combinations. At the second stage, aggregate indexes are produced by averaging across subsets of the 8,018 CPI item–area combinations.

Percent changes for periods other than 1 year often are expressed as annualized percentages. Annualized percent changes indicate what the change would be if the CPI continued to change at the same rate each month over a 12-month period. These are calculated using the standard formula for compound growth:

How CPI Is Calculated, New Orleans LA

What Is Included in the CPI

The CPI represents all goods and services purchased for consumption by the reference population with all expenditure items divided into more than 200 categories, arranged into eight major groups. Major groups and examples of categories in each are as follows:

  1. FOOD AND BEVERAGES (breakfast cereal, milk, coffee, chicken, wine, full service meals, snacks).
  2. HOUSING (rent of primary residence, owners’ equivalent rent, fuel oil, bedroom furniture).
  3. APPAREL (men’s shirts and sweaters, women’s dresses, jewelry).
  4. TRANSPORTATION (new vehicles, airline fares, gasoline, motor vehicle insurance).
  5. MEDICAL CARE (prescription drugs and medical supplies, physicians’ services, eyeglasses and eye care, hospital services).
  6. RECREATION (televisions, toys, pets and pet products, sports equipment, admissions).
  7. EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION (college tuition, postage, telephone services, computer software and accessories).
  8. OTHER GOODS AND SERVICES (tobacco and smoking products, haircuts and other personal services, funeral expenses).

What The February 2022 CPI Tells Us

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, under the Department of Labor, releases the latest Consumer Price Index numbers, using the All Urban Consumers Index which increased 0.8 percent  in February 2022, but this was for only one month. The seasonally adjusted CPI number for the last 12 months increased 7.9 percent, due mostly to an unadjusted 38 percent increase in gas and a 41 percent increase in used car prices.

Some categories increased prices dramatically the last month while other category price increases were small, which is why the CPI can be misleading. The categories of gas and fuel oil increased the most; however, the categories of medical care and food away from home increased only slightly and electricity and used car prices actually fell. These numbers are only for one month, and a commercial real estate lease should use the annual number. The all items index rose 7.9 percent for the 12 months ending February 2022, but the index for all items less food and energy rose 6.4 percent. The food index rose 7.9 percent while medical care prices only rose 2.4 percent.

CPI TABLE FEBRIARY 2022, New Orleans LA for  Real Estate Lease page

How Much Difference Can 1 Percent Make

Inflation is not what it used to be. In the 1980s the CPI approached 20% and the greatest economist alive said it was going to 25 percent. It went to 2 percent. Our economy today has been driven by a different wage/price spiral over the last 40 years, resulting in low inflation which helps borrowers but hurts landlords and savers. Building in a CPI adjustment can still make a difference in a long term real estate lease, as shown in the table below which compares a 1 percent CPI to a 2 percent CPI adjustment over a 25 year time frame. In the scenario below, 1 percent incremental rate increase annually results in $378,000 additional income over the 25 year span, and assuming a 10 percent Capitalization Rate, increases the market value of the property $338,000, or 26%.

How a One Percent Increase in CPI Affects Property Value, New Orleans LA for  Real Estate Lease page


In leasing any type of property, whether you are the landlord or the tenant, make sure your lease is clear about what the rent is, and what inflation adjustments apply to the rent. Even though some parties say they use a standard lease, there is no such thing. A lease is an agreement between two parties, and you should revise it to include language that works for you. As always, consult an expert.

Present Value in real estate Allows You To Compare Cash Flows, New Orleans LAPresent Value in Real Estate Allows You To Compare Cash Flows

The best single tool that you can use over and over again in a variety of situations to help you make smarter real estate decisions is a mathematical formula called Present Value. You can use present value in real estate whenever a deposit is made on the property to determine the lost income, or when a buyer agrees to pay money sometime in the future to a seller, or in terminating a lease prematurely, or in determining how rent payments might apply toward a purchase price, or in deciding whether to lease or purchase, or in figuring how much to pay for property that produces income. It works not only in real estate but also in valuing investments and anytime you need to put into current dollars a flow of money that lies in the future.

Present Value in Real Estate and Beyond, There's An App For That

Present Value is used anytime you have money paid in the future but need to know what it is worth today in order to make the right decision. Present value helps you put different scenarios of cash flows on the same playing field so that you can compare the options. Even though there are templates and apps that can do the work for you, it helps to understand the basics. The Apple Store has dozens of Present Value apps. Even the US government will give you a template to use for GSA contracts. But the best way to understand how the math tool helps is to use a simple spreadsheet.

How To Get Out Of A Lease

Let’s set up an example and work it through. One real-life example is how to get out of a lease. A lease commits the tenant to a long-term payment, in return for the predictability of having space in which to operate. Just ask the New Orleans Roly Poly sandwich shop owners, previously on Tchoupitoulas and Jefferson, why a lease commitment is important. You’ll have trouble finding them though because they did not have a long term lease and when the property owner wanted to build a Regions Bank branch, Roly Poly is no more. They shut down Roly Poly entirely, lost their income and the building was demolished by the landlord. So leases are good things to have. The commitment when obtaining a lease is that you will lease the property for several years. More often than not, you will personally guarantee the lease and the property owner will come after any personal assets if you terminate the lease prematurely.

Real Life Present Value in Real Estate

Example: Lease Buyout

Let’s examine a situation where you lease the property but want to cancel the lease. Maybe you are moving to a bigger space in Elmwood. Maybe you are moving to do more government contracts in Baton Rouge. Maybe you are closing down your business and retiring but don’t want to subject yourself to a lawsuit from the property owner who now will not have income from the lease payments to pay the bank the mortgage on the property and faces the bank coming after his personal property because you no longer can pay the rent.

Present Value is the following formula:

Real Life Lease Buyout Example present value, New Orleans LA

Don’t let the denominator throw you. The Present Value (PV) is the Future Value Payment (C) divided by the Assumed Growth (1+i) where i is the interest rate expressed as a decimal, times the number of periods money is paid (n).

Here's How To Make It Understandable

Assume you have a 5-year lease with monthly payments of $10,000 and you want to get out of the lease that started January 1, 2021. You are obligated to make 12 monthly payments totaling $120,000 per year for 5 years or a grand total of $600,000. But you don’t offer to pay the landlord the entire $600,000 now to terminate the lease because he would normally have received that in future monthly payments, and a lump sum now can be invested over the next 5 years to grow to more than $600,000. So how much is $600,000 over the next 5 years worth in current dollars as a lump sum? So our spreadsheet starts like this:

present value in real estate step 1, New Orleans LA


In the Present Value cell, enter the formula: =120,000 ÷ (1+.05) where .05 is 5% which is an assumption of the interest rate or growth rate of that money. Our (n) value equals 1. If you were earning your MBA, the professor would instruct you to use the Treasury Bill rate for n, but we are not in MBA class so in this case it is 5% which is an assumption factoring in risk to come up with an interest rate that the landlord would need to earn on your lump sum to replace the lost income you are no longer paying. So now our formula looks like this:

present value in real estate example step 2, New Orleans LA

The result shows the Present Value which is the amount of money it would take today if invested at 5% to grow to $120,000 in 12 months. Double check by multiplying the growth ($114,286 times 5%, or $5,714) and adding it back to the principal ($114,286).

To get more accurate you can compound the cash flows monthly, and assume you get all the income at the midpoint of the year, but in that case you would want to use a template. Now we have to carry this out for 5 years to determine the total amount, so our spreadsheet looks like this:

present value real estate example step 3, New Orleans LA

The only change is that in each subsequent year the present value formula adds another (1+.05) to the denominator.

All you do is add up each year’s Present Value for a total of $519,537. This is the amount in current dollars invested at 5% that grows to $600,000; therefore, this is the maximum amount a tenant would offer a landlord today to cancel a 5-year lease with payments of $10,000 per month.

warwick hotel sale, new orleans LA

In 2020 it was reported that the vacant-since-Katrina 197 room Warwick Hotel at 1315 Gravier in New Orleans sold for $8 million, but like so many commercial properties in 300 year old New Orleans, it has a fascinating history including the mysterious death of an owner, a $300 million dollar fraud, Israeli organized crime, a grisly double murder, connections to the president of Israel and also a local prominent attorney, not to mention an uncanny ability to avoid any fines for building code violations for 14 years.

Warwick Hotel:
How to Turn $1,300,000 into $8,000,000

City Hall warwick hotel map, new orleans LA

The Warwick Hotel is a 12-story, 120,000-square-foot dilapidated hotel and vacant since Katrina. It was originally constructed in 1952 but renovated in 2000 and previously under the Ramada Inn and Comfort Inn flags. The 176 room property includes 22 oversized one-bedroom suites, 8 junior suites, rooms with one king or two queen beds and handicap-accessible rooms. The hotel is closed and rooms are gutted and some have mold.

The property records date back to 1951 when it was leased to the Warwick Corporation until sold in 1997 by owners Warwick Exchange, LLC and Rosary Hartel O’Neill for $1,300,000 to Warwick Corporation with Rob Mouton as the attorney at that time helping with the purchase. Recently the attorney was changed to Marc Dorsey who is related to a prolific developer in New Orleans owning retail centers in New Orleans East and hotels downtown.

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Organized Crime Ownership

Warwick Hotel organize crime, New Orleans LA

The primary owner of Warwick was Joseph Soleimani, who also owned the Sea Club Resort in Ft. Lauderdale, but in 2013 ownership of the Warwick was transferred to Shimon Levy. Soleimani died the next year. Levy was reported by David Kidwell at the Miami Herald as having ties to Israeli organized crime and spent a year in an Israeli prison. Levy was also convicted of tax evasion. His business partner at the Sea Club was Zvika Yuz who was shot in the face as he parked his car at the hotel. Yuz was an Israeli native who lived in Miami and was instrumental in one of the largest fraud schemes in Florida history, masterminding his 36 employees who bilked 1,800 investors out of $300 million. Yuz was believed to have been connected to the “List of 11”, known as the top 11 Israeli organized crime figures. Yuz’s business partner, Shimon Levy, spent a year in prison in 1981 after he helped hide two top organized crime figures wanted in a grisly double murder in Israel.

Warwick owner Levy was granted a visa to enter the US because immigration officials were unaware of his Israeli conviction as an accessory to murder since former Israeli president Chaim Herzog ordered Levy’s records destroyed.

Shimon Levy decided to let the Warwick Hotel sit vacant for 14 years, willing to forgo millions in lost income if the hotel had been in commerce. The common belief was that the purpose of Levy owning the hotel was simply to park illicit profits from crime and drugs, not so much as to make money.

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Warwick Hotel - From $18 Million Offered
to a Sale at $8 Million

Warwick Hotel, New Orleans LA

The daily business operations for the vacant hotel were left to Yoram Moussaieff, who also operated Revolt which was affiliated with Federal Jeans, an outlet in New York with reported $15 million in blue jean sales. Yoram and I discussed putting the property back into commerce several times over several years, and he arranged a tour in 2017. The building was dilapidated with mold and stripped of any copper wiring which was common for neglected buildings after Katrina, but not so common 14 years later. After walking through each of the 12 floors with a contractor, we estimated it would take approximately $10 million to put the 197 rooms back into commerce, so our price for the property was $12 million. The owners thought it was worth $20 million, as-is. So the building sat vacant for another year.

Then the general manager called to report he had an offer for $18 million but would sell for $20 million to anyone else. The numbers just don’t work at that price, but it appeared none of the principals listed by the Secretary of State for the Warwick Corporation (Shimon Levy, Eldad Israel and Yoram Moussaieff)  had been to the property in 14 years since Katrina destroyed it, so they were unaware of a realistic value.

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Here's How a Buyer Sees the Building:
Best & Worse Case Scenario

As a commercial real estate broker in New Orleans, I regularly analyze financials to determine a property’s appropriate market price. After touring the Warwick and walking through each of the 176 rooms on the 12 floors, I prepared the best and worse case scenario below and other financials. This simple analysis gives you an insight into how a buyer approaches a valuation by working through the numbers backward. First you calculate the revenues you would generate after the project is finished. Then you back in expenses. What is left over is how much you can pay for the property now.

Financials Worst Case Scenario Warwick hotel, New Orleans LA

In the worst-case scenario, the most elastic variable is the occupancy rate. For hotels, a bad number is 60%, which we saw a lot of during the 2008 recession. Room rates for high-end hotels can average $150, but during the August hot month, even good hotels drop their rate to $100. This is a $50 drop, which is 33% and a disaster for hotels. So assuming the worst 60% occupancy but keeping the rate at $150 per night, the pro-forma revenues total $5.7 million and expenses average 60% at $2.3 million for a profit of $2.3 million annually. That values the hotel at $28 million, so you never want to have more than $20 million in an investment like that, because you have to allow for at least $8 million as compensation for putting your capital to work in this project versus something like an oil well. Hotels are so risky that recently on a different project, 5 local banks refused to loan $5 million to a buyer who had $1 million deposit on a $6 million dollar renovation loan. So buyers have to be compensated for their risk especially when financing is difficult. That makes this scenario really a break-even transaction which scares most buyers away.

financials Best Case Scenario warwick hotel, New Orleans LA

The best-case scenario is what developers hope for but never count on. What if the occupancy rate rose to 80%? They survive on a night when a convention in town, Essence Festival, Jazz Fest, Mardi Gras, or any other reason we hope to have 13 million visitors like we did before Covid. If occupancy rises above 80%, the room rate could climb to $225, then the revenues jump from $5.7 to $11.5 million and the net operating income approximates $4.6 million, valuing the business at $57 million. A well-run hotel can be very profitable, but there are very few who can run one well, which is why no bank wants to loan money to buy one.

how tariffs work

Every college business student learns tariffs are bad for economies that believe in free markets and competition and textbooks are filled with charts showing how tariffs suck money out of consumers’ pockets.

At first glance, imposing tariffs or quotas seems to be the perfect solution to get American industries back on track to prosperity, but the reality is that tariffs steal money out of consumers’ pockets by increasing prices, stifling creativity, rewarding inefficiencies and destroying the competitive drive that allows a free market economy to deliver cheaper, smarter and innovative products to you. If you skipped college or avoided a business degree, you missed the most basic economics course that explains why tariffs and quotas work in communist countries but never work in a free market economy. This article refreshes you on Econ 101 and explains why tariffs in America cost you over $70 billion every year.

Price is the Intersection of Supply and Demand

Price is the Intersection of Supply and Demand

The price of a good is the intersection, or equilibrium, of the demand and the supply.

The chart above illustrates the interaction between increased quantity and increased prices for buyers (demand curve) and suppliers (supply curve). The supply curve always rises since as prices increase, providers of goods want to sell more, and the demand curve always declines, since as prices rise, consumers always want to buy less. The intersection of supply and demand tells us the long term equilibrium of price and quantity.

Tariffs & Quotas

A tariff is a tax on imports, paid to the government.

Domestic producers are exempt from the tariff. A quota is a limit on the quantity allowed to be imported. The result of both is an increase in the price of the good, from the market price to the new tariff price. American manufacturers get to charge the new price, but manufacturers overseas receive the market price but pay the tariff to the US government. The government gains area “D” in the chart below (the revenue from the tariff); however, American consumers pay the higher price measured by areas A+B+C+D. Even if the government passes along to consumers the revenue from the tariff, the loss to consumers is still area B+D.

A tariff is a tax on imports, paid to the government

Tariffs and quotas are BAD public policy. Tariffs undermine competitive discipline which forces industries to always reduce cost and increase efficiency, driving creativity and invention. Protectionism has a narcotic effect, allowing sick industries to avoid facing up to their problems. These 3 reports explain in detail how our responses in the past only made things worse:

  1. The Effect Of Quotas On The US Steel Industry: Congressional Budget Office’s 95 page report
  2. Policy Responses To The Steel Crises: Organization For Economic Cooperation and Development Report
  3. Effects Of US Trade Protections For Autos and Steel: Brookings Industry Report.

What Can We Learn from 1950s Steel Industry Tariffs?

America has many precedents that teach us tariffs are bad policy, and the most obvious is the steel industry, promoted over the last 4 years as an example that tariffs would help. Going back 70 years, the steel industry was an oligopoly, with just a few manufacturers and little competition, allowing the industry to raise prices 9% annually in the late 1940s (twice the rate of wholesale prices). In the early 1950s, steel prices increased 4.8% annually at a time when the wholesale price index was falling. In the late 1950s, steel prices increased 7.1% annually, three times wholesale prices. In 1969, quotas were imposed and steel prices increased 14 times greater than they had in the previous 9 years, during a time of recession that caused 25% of industry capacity to be idle. The result was a lag in technology. American steel companies failed to introduce the oxygen process and continuous casting which put them at a disadvantage. Their oligopolistic pricing policy kept American companies from competing in the world market and eventually allowed imports to erode their market by producing a better product at a lower price. We can learn from history that tariffs are as un-American as you can get.

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, lessor or lessee, you need to take action now to keep your business alive in the future and stop events from affecting your lease. First, read your lease. Lock yourself in your bathroom for an hour and don't come out until you finish reading your lease. Twice. No need to call your attorney. Keep them out of it. Tenants, call your landlord. Landlords, call your tenant. Communicate what you want and work out a plan of action.

5 Things To Do Now To Prevent The Virus From Affecting Your Lease, New Orleans LA

Self-Isolate With Your Lease

All leases include language that describes what happens if there is a fire and the time period the landlord has to make repairs. Typically the lease will state " If the Premises or the Building is damaged by fire or other casualty and rendered unsuitable for use...." then goes on to state the landlord makes repairs, usually allowing a 180-day period, and if the landlord cannot make the building inhabitable, the Landlord or Tenant may cancel the lease. Tenants might have a reasonable position that a state-mandated self-isolation renders the space unsuitable. Nobody is going to end up in court over this because it will take years to decide, so the landlord and tenant have to work something out.

The language used, especially if a force majeure is mentioned, could go a long way in affecting your lease. This usually takes effect when there is an unpredictable disaster or Act of God. We saw it during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This usually allows the landlord to cancel the lease. Big deal. Why cancel a lease when the market doesn't have anyone else lining up to lease your space? Maybe for years.

If You Are A Landlord


If your tenant can't pay the rent, your risk is that they will go out of business. Realize you won't have anyone else to rent to, and it may take you several years to get the space leased back up.  Reduce the tenant's rent for a portion or all of the term left on the lease. The usual forms of rent reduction are to reduce the base rent, operating expenses, or both.


In this case, the landlord can defer a portion of the tenant's rent but would require them to repay the rent deferred at a later time, either in a lump sum or by increasing subsequent payments. A variation of rent deferral could be to cap or set a base year to operating expenses for a short or extended period of time. Landlords with large retail tenants are asking for a March and April financial statement to show revenues were reduced.


If a tenant is significantly past due on rent payments, a landlord may agree to forgive a certain amount of the past due rent if the tenant remains current thereafter. Rather than abating past due rent, a landlord may agree to convert the past due rent into a loan payable over time. The tenant would, however, continue to pay the current rent.


If the landlord holds a deposit, this amount could be credited against the tenant's current obligations.


Bringing in a new tenant (for part of or all of the rented space) could reduce or eliminate the rent obligations while replacing revenue for the landlord.

If You Are A Tenant


What are the basics of your lease? Is the language used affecting your lease? Review your lease to see if your rent is simply base rent or it includes pass-through expenses. How much are these expenses and are they set to increase?
When does your lease end? What constitutes a default of the lease? What tools are available to the landlord in such a case (penalties, eviction, interest, etc.)?


Does your landlord hold a security deposit? Speak to your insurance agent to see what coverages you have.


Arrange a meeting with your landlord and be prepared with data to have an open conversation to identify a solution or combination of solutions.

Different Strokes For Different Folks


Retail will see a bifurcated reaction to this economic downturn. Storefronts selling consumer staples - like Walmart, CVS, and grocery stores-will thrive, while dine-in restaurants, for example, could remain closed for the foreseeable future.


Unsurprisingly, hospitality has been decimated by the national response to the pandemic. CCIM Institute Chief Economist K.C. Conway recommends those in the sector ask themselves some basic questions. “For those that own hospitality assets and invest in that space, you need to step back and reflect on what brought you to that property type. Why? Where were you going into this particular period? The market had near record revenues per available room, average daily occupancy, and rental rates. … Whether I'm a hospitality REIT, hotel owner, or I've got properties, I want to negotiate with my lenders for some debt restructuring.”


The office leasing market is likely to suffer in the short-term due to COVID-19 as layoffs diminish tenants' overall need for space and, in many cases, set aside expansion plans they may have had. In addition, tenants who remain in the market for additional space will have a difficult time touring properties. Office workers' pushback against the open office environment is likely to accelerate, as illness is more easily transmitted in an open environment. Many employers already had recognized that in a competition to attract and retain top talent, squeezing workers into increasingly tight spaces was not a sustainable strategy. Now, an emphasis on social distancing and good health practices - continuing in some fashion even after the crisis has passed - may help reverse the densification trend, with less shared space and fewer workers per leased square foot.


Similarly, the multifamily sector could see significant upheavals as unemployment rises. Businesses that are closed employ people who now will struggle to pay rent. It's a similar situation to retail, only in this case the tenant is an individual or family who lost its source of income. Tellingly, Freddie Mac announced a nationwide relief plan for current multifamily borrowers and residents.


Industrial, meanwhile, is in a two-pronged situation similar to the retail sector. Grocery and medical items, for instance, are flying off the shelves, so properties in this supply chain are humming along. But other industrial sectors could be in store for tough times, depending on what areas of the national economy slow or stop.

Free Lease Review

We can help. We are offering a free lease review and, if needed, help to negotiate your lease so that landlords keep their tenants and tenants keep their business going. Having a commercial real estate broker who is a trained professional negotiator can help you execute your plan and save time and money, while lifting a burden off your shoulders. Knowing what events—present and future— affecting your lease is critical.

For Additional Information On Leases, Read Our Articles:

Why Negotiating Is Like A Tennis Match

The Office Lease Market

Want Expert Opinions?

Download the Colliers economist's report, The Coronavirus, the End of the Cycle and US Commercial Property Markets: Early Thoughts.

negotiating and leasing commercial real estate is like a good tennis matchBuying, selling and leasing commercial real estate requires lots of different skills, including knowledge of financing, zoning, supply and demand, income statements, and demographics but the most valuable skill is good negotiating. What makes a good negotiator? It is helping all parties involved, who bring to the table different and opposing objectives, agree on the one objective of buying, selling or leasing a property with terms that they may not like but to which they can agree. A good negotiator embraces conflict and works through it, discovering the motivations of each party and helping them achieve goals they may not have initially thought important.

Leasing Commercial Real Estate: Good Negotiating Is Always A Short Volley In A Tennis Match

Negotiating has an ebb and flow, a rhythm that is similar to a tennis match. If you make it too short, both parties didn't give their best, but if you make it too long, both parties tire out and make stupid mistakes. Negotiations always have several terms that both parties have to take into account. There is an offer, then a counter-offer and negotiations should never go past the counter-offer. There has to be some agreement at the 2nd change in terms, even if you have to reduce the number of issues under negotiation. This is where a good negotiator can add value to any transaction, by working with each party to identify issues that are minor and those that are deal-breakers. Negotiators need to understand why certain terms are important to people and help them understand the concept that if they can't get one thing they want, maybe they can get a different thing that will also help them.

Leasing Commercial Real Estate: The Hard Part Of Negotiating Is Not Walking Away

the hard part in negotiating leasing commercial real estate successfully

Any negotiation eventually has conflict, because there are always various interests involved, called stakeholders, that have their own objectives which can often oppose other stakeholder's interests:

The Buyer or Tenant-the buyer and tenant want the property as cheaply as possible and more. Sometimes the buyer wants a long inspection period or time to arrange financing. The tenant sometimes wants the landlord to build out the space and always wants several months of free rent.

The Seller or Landlord-both want as much money as possible with little initial investment. The seller doesn't want to make any repairs on the property being sold, and the landlord doesn't want to give free rent or spend money building out space that may be unusable should the tenant leave in the middle of the night, skipping on the rent.

The Government-whether the property falls under the jurisdiction of a city planning department, city council, mayor, or just the neighborhood association, each group wants to represent its constituents and get credit for any progress. The mayor wants a press conference, city planning wants all zoning laws complied with, and the neighborhood association wants services for their members even if it doesn't make good financial sense.

The 4 Strategies Good Negotiators Utilize

negotiating leasing commercial real estate sometimes depends on little things

The easy thing to do when a conflict of interest arises is to walk away. It is the most comfortable and normal reaction for many. But a good negotiator doesn't take conflict personally, stays calm and utilizes 4 strategies, especially when it involves leasing a commercial real estate property:

  1. Takes all stakeholder's interests into account and works behind the scene to address all concerns while reminding those with opposing goals of the benefit of achieving the main goal, which is to put the real estate back into commerce. Sellers and landlords need to understand what buyers and tenants are worried about. Buyers and tenants often have no idea of the complications sellers and landlords are up against. Good negotiators help all parties reach common ground.
  2. Identifies and separates the big issues and lets the other party have things that don't matter. In any commercial property negotiation, there are a wide variety of contingencies, including inspection and closing period, financing, deposit, occupancy and closing costs and price. The average person can only grasp 3 of these in any one situation, so a good negotiator will determine which 3 have the highest priority and methodically works to get an agreement on the big issues first.
  3. Solves problems with creativity. For example, if a tenant wants 3 months of free rent, the landlord could offer one month up front and 2 months at the end of the lease. That way if the tenant doesn't stay the entire term of the lease, the landlord has taken less risk. Or if a buyer is unable to obtain financing, the seller could increase the deposit and finance part of the transaction. What if the buyer wants an extraordinarily long inspection period? If the buyer eventually cancels, then the seller may have missed other buyers while the property was under contract. In economics, this is called opportunity cost, and this increased risk can be offset by a deposit that becomes non-refundable, or an additional non-refundable deposit to purchase more due diligence time.
  4. Keeps communications from getting personal. It is never a good idea for buyers and sellers, or landlords and tenants, to meet initially and conduct negotiations. Personalities always get in the way and people say things they shouldn't and statements get taken the wrong way. A good negotiator keeps all parties logical and rational, identifies the major issues and keeps all parties focused on the benefits to them of a successful transaction.

For more information on negotiation, read our article The Insanity of Inspection Renegotiation and our reality article on Successfully Negotiating the Largest Class A Office Lease.

commercial investment, New Orleans LAYou can run the numbers to calculate gains or losses from various scenarios, but there is nothing like a visual depiction of risk/reward tradeoffs, especially when it comes to risk in commercial real estate. The hard part is transitioning numbers to something you can see that displays probability and the risk involved with adopting various strategies that may or may not result in a gain.

 Visualize commercial real estate risk, New Orleans LA

Making decisions in commercial real estate often involves more than just calculating a capitalization rate or net present value, because there is always a component of unknown risk. In the office leasing sector, risk is created by local market factors, such as supply and demand for space, asking and effective rents, and absorption rate. Other factors contributing to risk in commercial real estate are the specifics of the situation. Learning how to quantify and illustrate such risks to clients is a challenge, especially in small or mid-size markets where office demand can still be somewhat stagnant.

This article discusses how to quantify the risk of a real-life decision: Should an office tenant write a check for $1.5 million to accept a lease buyout offer, or continue to market a sublease for 56,542 square feet of class A downtown office tower space in New Orleans?

The Dilemma When There Is Risk In Commerical Real Estate

As a byproduct of a merger between two large oil companies, a decision was made to relocate 250 employees from New Orleans to Houston, leaving 75,000 sf -- four full floors of fully furnished class A office space -- vacant with an obligation to pay rent at $18.25 psf for 54 more months.

The situation is compounded by two issues: The space represents the largest contiguous class A office space in New Orleans, and with only 54 months left on the lease, it is not feasible for the lessee to offer any build-out allowance. This means the sublease space cannot compete with market-rate space.

The lessor has presented an offer to take back 56,000 sf -- three full floors -- for a lump sum payment of $1,500,000 rather than the current obligation of $1,022,000 per year. The decision for the tenant is whether to pay the $1.5 million and gain the difference or try to sublease the space to produce a greater income. The dilemma is how to analyze this risk in commercial real estate.

Market Factors

The New Orleans class A office tower market is approximately 9,000,000 sf, with 1,000,000 sf currently available for lease. Building occupancy rates range from 73 percent to 97 percent and 2013 absorption was 133,000 sf, or 13 percent of available lease space. Asking rents range from $16.50 to $21.00 psf, including build-out payments ranging from $10 to $30 psf. In competing buildings, 15,000 sf of sublease space is available at $15.00 psf and 90,000 sf was just renewed at $12.50 psf.

The Decision-Making Process When There Is Risk In Commercial Real Estate

At first glance, the answer appears to be a no-brainer: Accept the offer to pay a lump sum of $1,500,000 rather than pay $1,022,000 annually for 54 months, equal to $4,599,000. However, calculating the numbers on subleasing the space at the average asking rate of $18.50 psf produces a profit of $63,609 for the remaining period. (See Table 1.)

leasing profits commercial real estate, New Orleans LA


Such numbers are compelling to clients wishing to make the most of a difficult decision. However, just because the market rate is $18.50 psf, we can’t assume that we can immediately lease the entire space at that price. Instead, the analysis should focus on the risk of not paying the $1,500,000 and trying to sublease the space. What price do we need to sublease the space for and how long can we take before we are worse off than just paying the $1,500,000? How do we show a client that risk visually?

Thus, the critical data are how long will it take to sublease the space and at what price. If the current market lease rate is higher than the current obligation net of build-out allowance, the space would command a payment to the lessee rather than a $1,500,000 payment from the lessee. But, like many markets, the New Orleans market has a wide variance, with some class A office tower downtown space subleased at a low of $12.50 psf and listed space quoted up to $21.00 psf.


sublease rate scenarios, New Orleans LA

Analyze the Risk in Commercial Real Estate

The best way to analyze the decision is to first examine the worst, average, and best outcomes, as shown in Table 2, which compares the income from a range of lease prices psf compared to various periods remaining on the lease. The three price levels are the actual low, middle, and high rates for class A office tower space in downtown New Orleans.

Each combination of time remaining and assumed sublease price should be compared to the net savings from the buyout offer of $1,500,000. The current obligation is for a lease payment for 54 remaining months at $18.25 psf on 56,542 sf, for a total of $4,643,511. The buyout offer requires a one-time payment of $1,500,000, which is a savings of $3,143,511. ($4,643,511 minus $1,500,000 paid).

If the lessee could sublease the space for $12.50 psf, the space would have to be subleased almost immediately in order to reap more income than the proposed offer. At $15.00 psf, the space would have to be subleased within 12 months, or have 42 months remaining in which to earn enough income. At $18.25 per square foot, the space would have to be subleased within 18 months, in order to have 36 months remaining to produce the same savings.

The Boxing Decision

The information in the table can best aid the decision-making process by illustrating it in chart form, with the dotted line depicting the savings from the proposed offer to buy out the lease.

Chart 1 shows that any situation above the dotted line represents a better alternative than the proposed offer, and any situation below the dotted line represents a worse scenario.

lease rate comparisons, New Orleans LA risk in commercial real estate

Going one step further to incorporate risk into the analysis produces a more-reliable decision. We might have a higher confidence level that the space will sublease around the $15.00 psf level, but we still don't know how long it will take to get it subleased. Of the 133,000 sf leased last year in New Orleans, the subject space represents 42 percent of that supply. Of the 133,000 sf, only three leases were 17,000-sf full floors. So the decision compares a finite cost of $1,500,000 against several likely outcomes.

Risk In Commerical Real Estate

Risk in Commercial Real Estate—The Conclusion

Chart 2 further incorporates risk in commercial real estate by comparing the area in a blue box of all possible outcomes above the known savings (which is a better outcome) to a red box of all possible outcomes below the known savings (which is a worse outcome). Since the blue box is smaller than the red box, it is less risky to pay $1,500,000 to terminate the 56,542-sf lease than it is to try to lease the space for more income. By visualizing not only the numbers but the risk of all likely scenarios, you can make complicated decisions easier.

This article was written by broker Robert Hand and is a reprint from the August 2014 national publication Commercial Investment Real Estate, published by CCIM, an organization of the top commercial real estate brokers in the world with a membership of 13,000 in 30 countries.

Read the original publication at CCIM Archive CIRE magazine.

new orleans Commercial Real Estate Developments with government help

New Orleans commercial real estate developments don't happen without government help which ranges from New Market Tax Credits, Community Block Grants, Tax Exempt Financing, to Digital Media Tax Credit, Bonus Depreciation, and Tax Abatements.

For example, one of the largest developments in New Orleans was a $70 million, 550-unit apartment and retail complex near the Superdome. Here is how the project was financed: New Market Tax Credits provide $4.9 million and Enterprise Zone Rebates provide $806,000, leaving loans from Goldman Sachs providing $55 million and equity of $8.4 million from the developers.

New Orleans Commercial Real Estate Developments: New Market Tax Credits

The most common financing vehicle was New Market Tax Credits which was established by Congress in 2000 to spur new or increased investments into operating businesses and real estate projects located in low-income communities. The New Market Tax Credits Program attracts investment capital to low-income communities by permitting individual and corporate investors to receive a tax credit against their Federal income tax return in exchange for making equity investments in specialized financial institutions called Community Development Entities (CDEs). The credit totals 39 percent of the original investment amount and is claimed over a period of seven years (five percent for each of the first three years, and six percent for each of the remaining four years). The investment in the CDE cannot be redeemed before the end of the seven-year period.

Click HERE for the IRS Publication on New Market Tax Credits

Internal Revenue Service Advice

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published a Notice providing guidance with respect to how certain Targeted Populations of individuals may be treated as Low-Income Communities eligible for investments by Community Development Entities (CDEs) under the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program. As indicated in the Notice, certain individuals in the Hurricane Katrina Gulf Opportunity Zone, as such term is defined in the Gulf Opportunity (GO) Zone Act of 2005 (Pub. L. 109- 135), are deemed to be a Targeted Population provided that the individuals were displaced from their principal residences as a result of Hurricane Katrina and/or lost their principal sources of employment as a result of Hurricane Katrina. A business that serves these individuals may be a qualified active low-income community business to the extent that:

  1. The business is financed by a special set-aside of NMTC allocations that were made available to CDEs with a significant mission of recovery and redevelopment of the GO Zone, pursuant to the GO Zone Act of 2005.
  2. The business is located in a population census tract in the GO Zone that contains one or more areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as flooded, having sustained extensive damage, or having sustained catastrophic damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
  3. The business is located in a census tract with a median family income that does not exceed 200% of the applicable median family income.
New Orleans Commercial Real Estate in sanlin, new orleans LA

Since New Orleans is almost 300 years old, there is plenty of history behind almost every commercial real estate property, and 426 Canal Street is a prime example of this New Orleans Commercial Real Estate with such a fascinating history that locals refer to it by name rather than the address.

This property has been known by three names: the Friedricks Building in the late 1800's, and the Sanlin Building, or the Morris Cigali Building more recently.

The historic Sanlin Building has a footprint of approximately 49,661 square feet with 130,000 square feet of improvements. Zoning is CBD-3 which allows a height of 85 feet. The property is located adjacent to Harrah’s Casino and near Canal Place Shopping Center, which just announced that retailer tenant Tiffany is taking a large block of space.

The property dates back to the 1840s when African-American clothing merchants Julien Colvis and Joseph Dumas purchased lots and constructed buildings in the block with the expertise of architects Sidle and Stewart. Then in 1850, Colvis purchased 426 Canal from Louis Bararin. Architect James Freret added a 5th floor and the current façade after 1880. The façade has been thought of as historically significant and the building is considered an example of African-American entrepreneurism, which prevented any changes to the outside of the building over a decade ago.

This property is zoned CBD-3 which allows any use permitted in CBD-1 except hotels. Since the zoning does not allow a hotel as a permitted use but as a conditional use, any hotel development must have city council approval and a review by the city planning department in an official site plan review. This requires architectural drawings to be submitted which can easily cost $50,000 to $150,000-a hefty up front expense when no guarantee exist that a project can proceed. Current zoning only allows hotels as a conditional use in a certain area bounded by Canal, Crozat, Iberville and North Peters, as shown in the map below.

Source:, New Orleans Preservation Society Archives.

copyright 2013.

New Orleans East Hospital, New Orleans LA, Commerical Property Tax Incentives

New Orleans is attracting a new industry of media companies, including movie companies and software developers, mostly due to superior tax incentives offered to businesses to relocate to the Big Easy. For example, there is a 25% tax credit for digital media expenditures. That is a dollar-for-dollar tax credit. There is a 50% bonus depreciation and tax exempt financing at a 2% interest rate. There is a tax credit for live performances up to 25% of expenditures. There is a tax credit of 30% which can also be sold on movie expenditures. There is a 39% federal plus a 25% state New Market Tax Credit for development in low-income areas. There is a 25% tax credit for Sound Recording expenditures. Here are the 14 major incentives and a summary of benefits all in one list.

Louisiana Offers 14 Major Business Tax Incentives

  1.  The Digital Media Incentive provides a tax credit of 25% of qualified production expenditures for state-certified digital interactive productions in Louisiana and 35% tax credit for payroll expenditures for Louisiana residents.
    • 25% tax credit for digital interactive media expenditures made in Louisiana.
    • 35% tax credit on payroll expenditures for Louisiana residents. No annual cap on tax credits. The tax credit can be sold or applied against Louisiana income taxes.
  2. Economic Development Award Program assists publicly owned infrastructure for industrial or business development projects that promote targeted industry economic development and that require state assistance for basic infrastructure development.
    • Provides a minimum of $50,000 for publicly owned infrastructure for industrial or business development projects.
  3. The Enterprise Zone (EZ) program is a jobs incentive program that provides Louisiana income and franchise tax credits to a business hiring at least 35% of net new jobs from one of four targeted groups. EZs are areas with high unemployment, low income or a high percentage of residents receiving some form of public assistance. A business must create permanent net new jobs at the EZ site. A business is not required to be located in an EZ. A business does not have to invest money, only create additional jobs.
    • Provides a one-time $2,500 credit per new job.
    • Rebates 4% sales/use tax on materials, machinery, furniture or equipment....OR
    • 1.5% Refundable Investment Tax Credit can be earned.
  4. The Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005 (GO Zone) provides federal and state tax incentives for business development in parishes most affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
    • 50% Bonus Depreciation Qualified property in the Louisiana GO Zone is eligible for an additional one-time, up-front 50% bonus depreciation.
    • Tax Exempt Bonds In lieu of using bonus depreciation on investments, most developments in the Louisiana GO Zone qualify for tax exempt bond finance.(subject to availability of bond capacity). Interest rates on GO Zone bonds can be expected to save a borrower 1.5% to 2.5% a year.
  5. The Industrial Tax Exemption (ITE) Program provides property tax abatement for up to 10 years on a manufacturer's new investment and annual capitalized additions. This exemption applies to all improvements to the land, buildings, machinery, equipment and any other property that is part of the manufacturing process.
  6. The Live Performance Tax Credit program offers a fully transferable tax incentives credit that can be sold or applied against Louisiana tax liability. Tax credits received for infrastructure cannot exceed $10 million per project and are also subject to a $60 million annual cap. There is no annual cap on the production credits. The tax credit value increases with higher levels of certified expenditures, as outlined below:
    • 10% of the base investment for expenditures between $100,000 and $300,000.
    • 20% of the base investment for expenditures between $300,000 and $1 million.
    • 25% of the base investment for expenditures over $1 million. In addition to the baseline tax credits for live performance production and infrastructure, the producer may also qualify for additional incentives, including:
      • 10% additional tax credit for payroll of Louisiana residents.
      • Transportation tax credit offered for shipping of live performance-related property.
      • Opportunities for collaboration with Louisiana's top educational institutions.
  7. Mentor-Protégé Tax Credit program enhances Louisiana's business environment for new construction companies. This program provides technical and economic benefits to Louisiana-based contractors who will create and/or retain jobs for Louisiana citizens, expand the state's economy and increase available quality jobs. With the Mentor-Protégé Tax Credit program Act of 2007, mentor firms can receive Louisiana income or franchise tax credits of up to $50,000 per year by making technical assistance available to a protégé firm.
  8. The Modernization Tax Credit program provides a 5% refundable state tax credit for manufacturers making capital investments to modernize or upgrade existing facilities in Louisiana. Provides a one-time 5% refundable state tax credit on capital expenditures taken over a five-year period (1% per year for five years) for manufacturers making qualified capital investments of at least $5 million.
  9.  The Motion Picture Industry Development Tax Credit provides a 30% tax credit on qualified motion picture expenditures. Payroll expenditures for Louisiana residents qualify for an additional 5% tax incentives credit (35% effective total credit rate).
    • Production incentives fully transferable tax credit of 30% on in-state expenditures related to the production of a motion picture.
    • An additional 5% tax credit for Louisiana payroll expenditures.
    • A production company has several ways to use a tax credit:
    • Tax credits can be applied against any Louisiana income tax liabilities.
    • Production companies can also claim a direct refund for 85% of the face value of the tax credit from the Louisiana Department of Revenue.
    • Tax credits can be transferred or sold by a production company to a third party.
  10.  The New Markets Tax Credit program encourages investment in urban and rural low-income areas to help finance community development projects, stimulate economic growth and create jobs. Private-sector investors receive credit against federal income taxes. The program allows individual and corporate taxpayers to receive a credit against federal income taxes for making qualified equity investments in Community Development Entities, or CDEs. Credits can be obtained every year the investment is held, for up to seven years of the credit period. Equity investments in low- to moderate-income areas may qualify for a 39% federal tax credit available through a special federal allocation for the Louisiana Gulf Opportunity Zone.
    • Qualifying projects may leverage the federal program through an additional 25% state tax credit (64% total credit).
    • May be used as equity for debt financing.
  11. The Quality Jobs (QJ) program provides a cash rebate to companies that create well-paid jobs and promote economic development.
    • Provides 5% or 6% cash rebate of annual gross payroll for new direct jobs for up to 10 years. Allows for 4% sales/use tax rebate on capital expenditures. OR 1.5% investment tax credit for qualified expenses.
  12. The Research and Development Tax Credit encourages existing businesses with operating facilities in Louisiana to establish or continue research and development activities within the state.
    • Louisiana taxpayers who incur research and development expenses may be able to receive credits against state income and corporate franchise taxes.
    • Taxpayers who employ fewer than 50 Louisiana residents can receive a credit up to 40% of the apportioned amount of their expenditures.
    • Taxpayers who receive certain federal grants can receive a credit up to 40% of the receipts received.
    • Taxpayers who claim the federal income tax credit for research activities can receive a credit up to 20% of their apportioned increase in research activities or 25% of their apportioned federal credit, depending on the number of Louisiana resident employees.
  13. The Restoration Tax Abatement (RTA) program provides five-year property tax abatement for the expansion, restoration, improvement and development of existing commercial structures and owner-occupied residences.
    • Grants a five-year deferred assessment of the ad valorem property taxes assessed on renovations and improvements.
    • Taxes based on assessed valuation of property prior to beginning of improvements.
    • Equipment that becomes an integral part of that structure can qualify for this exemption.
    • The program does not exempt the acquisition cost of the structure.
  14. The Sound Recording Investor Tax Credit program rebates a 25% refundable tax credit for qualified production expenditures for state-certified sound recording projects.The program is subject to a cap of $3 million in tax credits each calendar year. Projects qualifying for the tax credits after the annual cap has been reached will automatically be placed in the queue to receive tax credits in the next calendar year.

The Proof Is In The Pudding

Several leading technology companies have taken advantage of the tax incentives and have come to Louisiana, such as:


On August 15, 2011, Gameloft announced it would open a game development studio in New Orleans and deliver at least one new game title developed entirely at the studio in its first year. Employment will grow to nearly 150 jobs at the New Orleans studio in the next few years, with pay averaging more than $60,000, plus benefits. Electronic Arts ea In 2012, the Electronic Arts moved into the newly-constructed 94,000-square-foot Louisiana Digital Media Center on the LSU main campus. EA now employs nearly 500 workers during the school year. In addition to the LSU students who serve in part-time positions at the center, EA has had success recruiting others in the Baton Rouge area to test children's games and casual games more popular with adult women. Game testers at the center in Baton Rouge coordinate work on a daily basis with studios across the globe, including facilities in Stockholm, London and Bucharest.

Electronic Arts

electronic arts

In 2012, Electronic Arts moved into the newly-constructed 94,000-square-foot Louisiana Digital Media Center on the LSU main campus. EA now employs nearly 500 workers during the school year. In addition to the LSU students who serve in part-time positions at the center, EA has had success recruiting others in the Baton Rouge area to test children's games and casual games more popular with adult women. Game testers at the center in Baton Rouge coordinate work on a daily basis with studios across the globe, including facilities in Stockholm, London and Bucharest.



"This public-private partnership with LED, IBM and LSU is a powerful example of the triangulation between industry, government and academia that elevates the state's role as a national leader in economic development," said LSU College of Engineering Dean Richard Koubek. "LSU's College of Engineering is committed to developing a mutually beneficial partnership with IBM and LED that stimulates economic growth and helps to meet the workforce development needs of the state." In addition to long-term workforce solutions, LED offered the company a $17 million grant to reimburse relocation, recruitment and internal training costs; a $5.5 million incentive equivalent to the state's Quality Jobs program for a portion of the IBM center's employment over 10 years; a $5 million grant to offset facility operating costs over 10 years; and the recruitment, screening and training services of LED FastStart®. LED offered a $30.5 million performance-based grant consisting of state, local and federal funding to build an eight-floor office building as part of a new, mixed-use urban development on Baton Rouge's riverfront. In addition to new Class A office space and 600 dedicated parking spaces, the development would include an 11-floor residential tower and a private recreational terrace joining the buildings above a multilevel parking garage. Leveraging resources of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Louisiana secured BRAF’s commitment to build and manage the $55 million total project through its affiliates, the Wilbur Marvin Foundation and Commercial Properties Realty Trust.

General Electric

General Electric

In February of 2012, Brackett Denniston, GE senior vice president and general counsel, joined state and local leaders to announce the creation of the GE Capital IT Center of Excellence in New Orleans. “We took our time to select a location for this important center,” said Denniston. “We looked all over the country but, after much consideration, New Orleans rose to the top of our list.” The center will be home to 300 high-quality technology jobs and serve as a major resource for GE Capital employees across the nation. Executives announced GE Capital will occupy 60,000 square feet of office space in the New Orleans Central Business District.

DXC Technology

DXC Technology, Tax Incentives
DXC Technology leased 3 floors in the Freeport McMoran Class A office tower for their 300 software developers.

DXC hired 300 people during 2018, ramping up to 2,000 jobs over five years with an annual payroll exceeding $133 million by 2025. The LSU Economics & Policy Research Group estimates the DXC Technology project will translate to $64.3 million in new Louisiana taxes, $868.4 million in new Louisiana earnings and total economic output of $3.2 billion from 2018 through 2025.

If you rent space for your business, your lease probably has a clause that makes your rent increase as inflation increases, so be ready to automatically pay a lot more in rent. This article explains how inflation in your lease language is calculated and how to know ahead of time how your rent could increase.

CPI Annual Percentage Change 1913-2021 and rent inflation

The Terms To Know

Your lease should have a detailed explanation of how your rent increases with inflation, and lease language always includes these trigger words:

  1. Term-this is the initial length of time you have control of the space you rent. Usually, landlords want an initial term of 3 to 5 years. Some tenants choose to negotiate for a one year term initially, which is a bad idea because you should have a lease that gives you control of the space as long as you think your business will survive. Stable tenants such as Walgreens or CVS who expect to be in the space for a long time often lock in terms of 30 years.
  2. Option Periods-this is the length of time you have control of the space after your initial term ends. You can choose to exercise your option and renew your lease, or not.
  3. Rent Adjustments- this is how much your rent increases, and is usually tied to inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index, which is calculated by the Bureau of Labor and is actually 8,000 different items tracked but condensed into one number.
  4. Rent Adjustment Period- here is where hiring an expert can save you money by negotiating your lease fine points. Your lease should be specific in how the base rent is adjusted for inflation, how that is calculated and when the adjustment starts. Common lease language might state, "Your rent adjusts for the CPI every year on the first day of the year, based on the change over the previous 12 months".

Annual Adjustments Are Costly

For example, let's say your initial lease term is 5 years and your rent for 10,000 square feet is $20 per square foot per year, adjusted annually for the CPI. Those annual rent adjustments total $45,000, even though the CPI the last 5 years only ranged from 1.2% to last year's high of 4.7%, as shown in the table and chart below. Had you negotiated for a 5 year initial term with a CPI adjustment at the end of the 5 years, rather than annual adjustments, you would have saved $45,000.

rent inflation Annually, Adjusted For CPI

How To Forecast The Consumer Price Index: The Producer Price Index

Producer Price Index, 12 Month Change, Not Seasonally Adjusted, From 2011-2022

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the change in prices paid by consumers for goods and services, and most leases should use the CPI All Urban Consumer group which represents about 93 percent of the total U.S. population. It is based on the expenditures of almost all residents of urban or metropolitan areas, including professionals, the self -employed, the poor, the unemployed, and retired people, as well as urban wage earners and clerical workers. Prices are collected each month in 75 urban areas across the country from about 6,000 homes and approximately 22,000 retail establishments (department stores, supermarkets, hospitals, filling stations, and other types of stores and service establishments).

Before these items are purchased by consumers, they are produced by manufacturers, and their change in price is tracked by the Producer Price Index, which includes over 100,000 items. The Producer Price Index (PPI) measures the average change over time in the selling prices received by domestic producers for their output, and you can use the PPI to forecast the CPI and your increase in rent.

The Latest News Is Alarming

The Bureau of Labor just announced the Producer Price Index increased 11.0 percent from April 2021 to April 2022. The Index is comprised of both goods and services, with producer prices for goods increasing more at 16.3 percent, while prices for services increased 8.1 percent, as shown in the chart below.

Producer Price Index for Final demand components, 12-month percent change, not seasonally adjusted, April 2022

Not all categories increased prices the same, however. Producer prices of goods can be further subcategorized into Foods, Energy and Other, with each component incurring a wide range of price increases. Energy prices topped the list, with gasoline and auto prices increasing 50% over the last 12 months.

Producer Price Index for final demand components, 12-month percent change, not seasonally adjusted, April 2022

The food category can be further subcategorized: vegetables increased 45% but meats increased only 5%. Health and Beauty items only increased 1.4% while securities brokerage and portfolio management prices declined.

Producer Price Index for final demand components, 12-month percent change, not seasonally adjusted, April 2022

The energy category can also be subdivided, as in the chart below showing jet fuel prices increasing 127% and diesel prices increasing 86%, while electric power prices only increased 10%.

Producer Price Index for final demand components, 12-month percent change, not seasonally adjusted, April 2022

In the Other category, Goods Less Food and Energy, the largest price increase was in the Industrial Chemicals subcategory with price increases of 22% while pharmaceuticals only increased 1.6%.

Producer Price Index for final demand components, 12-month percent change, not seasonally adjusted, April 2022


In summary, follow these subcategories of the Producer Price Index to give you an idea of where the Consumer Price Index is going and use this information to negotiate better lease terms for your business. Remember, a lease is an agreement between you and your landlord and can always be amended if you have accurate information and facts to show how it is in the landlord's and tenant's best interest.

For more information on how inflation affects commercial leases, read our articles:

advertising on social media can burn money

OK, Boomer. If you advertise your business name to 845,000 people, would you think one or two people might call you? Not especially, and this article explores why. If you own a business, you have to leverage social media to promote your business and let people know how you can help them; however, not all businesses are helped by advertising on social media. Recently, Louisiana Commerical Realty spent $11,000 to test an advertising campaign using several media channels: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and the business publication CityBusiness, and the results were surprising.

The Lingo of Advertising on Social Media

First, you will need to know the terminology of social media advertising:

  1. Impressions: how many times the ad was shown, no matter if it was 5 times in the same news story, or at the very bottom of the article.
  2. Unique Clicks: how many times the ad was clicked on for more information by a unique person. Remember, one person can click on ad several times, but that only counts as one unique person.
  3. Total Clicks: total number of times an ad was clicked, without regard to one person with multiple clicks.
  4. Cost Per Click: Total cost for that ad divided by the number of clicks, without regard to one person with multiple clicks.
  5. Click Thru Rate: Clicks divided by impressions. Determines popularity of ads when the click thru rate is compared to several ads in the same media.

The Results

advertising on social media comparison

The chart above compares four different media channels and two variables: the amount spent on an ad and how many unique people clicked on the ad for more information which takes them to a website where we can engage visitors and promote our business so they can call or email us. If the orange line in the chart crosses at the top of the blue column, that means for every $1 spent, we get one unique person that clicks on the ad and then visits the website. Results show Google was the most productive and CityBusiness was a bust, delivering only 178 unique clicks for $4,000 spent. What the numbers don't show is that 178 CityBusiness readers might be more valuable than 4,500 Googlers.

cost per click of advertising on social media

Since different ad campaigns had different budgets, we compared the 'Click Thru Rate' of each in order to reduce the bias of spending more on one media than the other. The chart below shows Google and LinkedIn were tops in visitors who were the most responsive to our ad. But notice even the highest ‘Click Thru Rate’ was Google's 1.07%. That means money spent to reach the other 98.93% was wasted. To be effective, advertising has to either reach lots of people, or a smaller number of very valuable people. The chart also compares the 'Cost Per Click' which was 90 cents for Facebook and Google but $22 for CityBusiness. If your business is trying to connect with local people interested in business, then $22 each may be a bargain.

keywords for advertising commercial property on social media

The most valuable test is the 'Keyword Search' which shows what words Googlers search for that causes them to click on the ad and drives traffic to your website. The surprise is that a small change in wording can drive almost 5 times more traffic to your website. For example, using 'commercial real estate for lease' rather than 'office space for lease' as the search keyword generates a 26% Click Thru Rate versus 5.78%. Of the 74 keywords we tested, only 2 had a Click Thru Rate over 10% and only 14 of 74 scored over 5%.

Does Advertising on Social Media Work?

After spending $11,000 on advertising that displayed 845,000 ads that got the attention of 1,762 people but generated zero emails and zero phone calls, the conclusion is that advertising in social media doesn't work for every type of business, but you don't know until you try it. Run a test first to find out what works best for your business.

Presented by The Small Business Development Center

Reach Customers Online with Google (Live Webinar)

If you own a small business and need to reach customers, here is a webinar that can help you. Learn how customers find your business online and how to promote your business using Search Engine Optimization and Smart Campaigns in Google Ads. Topics include:

Speaker(s): Dave Delaney- Grow With Google Presenter

Free but you must register.


January 2021 commercial real estate prices for the New Orleans/Metairie MSA  increased dramatically for the retail and multi-family lease sectors and shopping center sale sector, but prices declined in office and industrial leasing and office, retail and industrial sale sectors. Demand and supply affected each sector differently which creates opportunities for commercial real estate buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants.

Over the last 6 months, over 500,000 square feet has been eliminated from the market for sale but 900,000 square feet added for lease. This change in supply mixed with various demand curves, causes some sectors to incur increasing prices while other sectors witness declining prices. This article examines price changes for the various categories of commercial property and looks for trends and opportunities.


Lease prices for office space in the New Orleans/Metairie Metropolitan Statistical Area averaged $17.95 per square foot, an increase of 26 cents per square foot over the last 6 months with 169 properties for lease totaling 700,000 SF (20 percent) added to the market. The new supply should push lease prices much lower.

Sale prices averaged $124/SF, a decrease of $1/SF, with only 11 properties added. There was unprecedented activity in just the last month with 20 properties leased averaging $15/SF and 11 sold averaging $151/SF.


In the retail store category the last 6 months, there are 17 few properties for lease but 200,000 more square feet and 7 fewer for sale with no change in square feet. The average property is on the market 330 days and last month 15 spaces leased averaging $24/SF even though list prices were $15.82/SF, and 7 properties sold averaging $115/SF while list sale prices averaged $167/SF.

Shopping Center 

The last 6 months saw 26 more shopping center spaces for lease totaling 144,000 SF averaging $14/SF. The average lease rate increased 83 cents/SF (6 percent) and sale prices doubled from an average of $73/SF to $141/SF, due to 127,000 SF taken off the market, a 40 percent drop in supply.


The industrial market was steady with only 13 fewer properties for lease and 10 fewer for sale. Lease rates decreased 18 cents to $5.46/SF and sale prices decreased $2/SF to $35/SF. Last month there were 3 properties leased at $6.43/SF (15% above average) and 4 high valued properties sold for $51/SF, 45% above the average price.

For comparison charts of prices, see our page Louisiana Commercial Property Price Charts For 3rd Quarter

Chef Andrea Apuzzo

He has prepared culinary dishes for Queen Elizabeth, Princess Ann, President Carter, Senator Ted Kennedy, Clint Eastwood, Omar Shariff, Sophia Loren, Senator Jack Kemp, Lee Meriwether and Tommy Lasorda. He is Chef Andrea Apuzzo, owner of Andrea's restaurant and voted One of America’s Finest Restaurants & Outstanding Chefs by Chefs in America. But he is also a real estate investor.

Recently Chef Andrea hired Louisiana Commercial Realty to manage leasing for his nearby office building, which is one of the few incubator office spaces available in Metairie, Louisiana. The office building is designed for start-ups and sole proprietorships with 1 or 2 employees, and offers full service amenities and plenty of free parking.

Louisiana Commercial Cooks Up Ideas For Chef

chef andrea toast

Chef Andrea reached out to Louisiana Commercial Realty to market the office building and find the right tenants to lease several vacant offices. The offices had been vacant for a long time because another real estate firm had been unsuccessful in finding tenants.

Louisiana Commercial's broker Robert Hand explained, "Our firm negotiated the largest office lease in New Orleans, and we take pride in offering a high level of service to big and small office landlords. Size does not matter. This building is a smaller facility, but there is a real need for start-up companies to have office space with free parking in an easy-to-get-to location. So we designed a marketing plan to attract new companies and entrepreneurs who need an affordable office in a great location. In just a few days, we had interest in leasing half the available offices."

Located near Lakeside Mall, the Ridgelake Drive office building offers entrepreneurs the lowest office rates in New Orleans and Metairie, and choices of office layouts from 225 to 750 square feet. Included in the rent are all utilities as well as janitorial services and availability 24/7 without any extra charges.

Commercial broker Hand says, "If you are a small business owner you work hard, often nights and weekends. But every office tower in Metairie and downtown will charge you extra for air conditioning after hours. And it's expensive, sometimes $200 per hour. We think entrepreneurs need a break and when they have an office in Chef Andrea's building, there is no extra charge for air conditioning. It's the right thing to do."

If you want to know more about leasing office space in Chef Andrea's building, click here:

Citybusiness magazine recently reached out to Louisiana Commercial Realty broker Robert Hand, to gain insight into a new type of upscale office development in the heart of once was one of the roughest neighborhoods in New Orleans.

The high-tech, avant garde development, called "The Stables" transformed three small buildings that were historic horse carriage barns into state-of-the art office space for architects, realtors and interior designers. The development hopes to appeal to a new type of office tenant that prefers smaller, upscale office space.

Broker Robert Hand conducted in-depth research into the needs of tenants who lease new office space when he completed the largest Class A office lease in New Orleans. Hand says, "We discovered there was an underserved market of millenials moving to New Orleans because they liked the culture and were starting their own businesses. We saw new business incorporation numbers rising sharply in businesses with less than 10 employees." Hand says companies that compete for top talent need hip office layouts, which often include free break rooms, sofas and game rooms with pool tables.

Rents at The Stables are $28 per square foot, which are higher than Class A office space at $24 per square foot, but the free parking is equal to $3 per square foot, so the space is compatible financially and appeals to upscale businesses looking for a hiring advantage.

Broker Hand says, "The smaller development will appeal to higher income architecture, engineer and tech employees looking to get away from downtown parking but not keen on being outside the city. This is a project that’s common in a techie city like Austin, Texas, but not something you’d see in New Orleans." He expects similar smaller office developments to open in others areas of town such as Bywater and Uptown.

The commercial real estate market in the New Orleans/Metairie MSA has held steady throughout Covid, with prices increasing 5% in the industrial sector, 30% in the shopping center sector and unchanged in the office sector, and decreasing 6% in the retail sector. Over the last 6 months, over 1 million square feet has been taken off the market for lease and an additional 400,000 square feet is now for sale. This article examines the current average price of the various categories of commercial property and looks for trends and opportunities.


office chart

Lease prices for office space in the New Orleans/Metairie Metropolitan Statistical Area averaged $17.69 per square foot but transacted 12% less at $15.76/SF, and sale prices averaged $125 per square foot. There are 1,000 office properties for sale or lease and, of those, 867 are for lease and 133 for sale. Last month 18 office spaces were leased, which is below the average of 25 monthly for the last 2 years. and 1 office properties was sold. The average office property is on the market for 215 days.


retail chart

In the retail store category, there are 647 listings, with 473 for lease averaging 2.1 million SF at $16.17/SF but 13 transacted last month at $13.51/SF. There are 174 retail properties totaling 1.8 million SF for sale, listed at an average of $158/SF but 3 sold last month at $113/SF. The average retail listing is on the market 481 days, about 8 months longer than average.

Shopping Center 

shopping center chart

The last 6 months destroyed the shopping center market with sale prices plummeting 30% but helped lease rates which increased 30%. There are 227 shopping center spaces in the New Orleans/Metairie market with 217 for lease totaling 956,000 SF at $13.90/SF and 10 properties for sale totaling 321,000 SF at $73/SF. The lease market has dropped 800,000 SF over the last 2 years while the sale SF remains unchanged. The average shopping center space is on the market 308 days.


industrial chart

The industrial market has 269 listings totaling 6.2 million square feet, with 173 properties totaling 2.8 million SF for lease averaging $5.64/SF and 96 listings totaling 3.2 million SF averaging $37/SF and on the market 376 days. Six months ago, lease rates were 5% lower at $5.38/SF, and sale prices averaged 18% higher at $46/SF.

For historical comparison, read our article on prices dated August 2019: Commercial Real Estate Market Overview.


The latest unemployment numbers show, compared to one year ago, 32% of 389 city metropolitan areas actually had lower unemployment rates, meaning a higher percent of workers had jobs, leaving 65% with higher unemployment and 3% unchanged compared to 12 months ago.

Louisiana Ranks Worst In Unemployment for Its Size

map us cities exceeding 5.6% unemployment rate march 2020

The average unemployment rate was 4.5%, and 226 metropolitan cities had rates below average, 150 cities had rates above average and 13 cities equaled the average. The U.S. map shows only the metropolitan cities with the highest unemployment. Louisiana has 8 cities with an unemployment rate 5.6% and higher, including Monroe with the highest at 6.9%, followed by Hammond at 6.8%. Only 3 other states have that many major cities with 5.6% unemployment or higher:

Best Metropolitan Cities For Jobs

So where are the big cities with the best prospects for work? Not Texas, not California and not New York. The states with the highest number of metropolitan cities with the lowest unemployment rate and the most jobs are:

List of 389 Metropolitan Statistical Area Cities' Unemployment Rates

Metropolitan Statistical Area Unemployment Rate
Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI 2.1
Urban Honolulu, HI 2.1
Ames, IA 2.2
Idaho Falls, ID 2.4
Ann Arbor, MI 2.4
Madison, WI 2.4
Boise City, ID 2.5
Columbus, IN 2.5
Dover-Durham, NH-ME NECTA 2.5
Oklahoma City, OK 2.5
Charleston-North Charleston, SC 2.5
Champaign-Urbana, IL 2.6
Manhattan, KS 2.6
Manchester, NH NECTA 2.6
Portsmouth, NH-ME NECTA 2.6
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI 2.7
Fargo, ND-MN 2.7
Columbia, SC 2.7
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC 2.7
Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC 2.7
Burlington-South Burlington, VT NECTA 2.7
Huntsville, AL 2.8
Pocatello, ID 2.8
Twin Falls, ID 2.8
Bloomington, IL 2.8
Elkhart-Goshen, IN 2.8
Iowa City, IA 2.8
Portland-South Portland, ME NECTA 2.8
Lawton, OK 2.8
Tulsa, OK 2.8
Spartanburg, SC 2.8
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN 2.8
Appleton, WI 2.8
Oshkosh-Neenah, WI 2.8
Sheboygan, WI 2.8
Wausau, WI 2.8
Decatur, AL 2.9
Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN 2.9
Lawrence, KS 2.9
Bismarck, ND 2.9
Enid, OK 2.9
Corvallis, OR 2.9
Logan, UT-ID 2.9
Charlottesville, VA 2.9
La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN 2.9
Auburn-Opelika, AL 3
Birmingham-Hoover, AL 3
Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL 3
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN 3
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH NECTA 3
Lansing-East Lansing, MI 3
Columbia, MO 3
Staunton-Waynesboro, VA 3
Fond du Lac, WI 3
Tuscaloosa, AL 3.1
Springfield, IL 3.1
California-Lexington Park, MD 3.1
Mankato-North Mankato, MN 3.1
Sioux Falls, SD 3.1
Midland, TX 3.1
Harrisonburg, VA 3.1
Winchester, VA-WV 3.1
Lewiston, ID-WA 3.2
Carbondale-Marion, IL 3.2
Fort Wayne, IN 3.2
Kalamazoo-Portage, MI 3.2
Grand Forks, ND-MN 3.2
Florence, SC 3.2
Green Bay, WI 3.2
Dothan, AL 3.3
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO 3.3
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD 3.3
Bloomington, IN 3.3
Evansville, IN-KY 3.3
Topeka, KS 3.3
Lewiston-Auburn, ME NECTA 3.3
Trenton, NJ 3.3
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 3.3
Montgomery, AL 3.4
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 3.4
Gainesville, GA 3.4
Monroe, MI 3.4
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 3.4
Rochester, MN 3.4
Amarillo, TX 3.4
Provo-Orem, UT 3.4
Richmond, VA 3.4
Roanoke, VA 3.4
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 3.5
Danbury, CT NECTA 3.5
Wichita, KS 3.5
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 3.5
Jackson, MI 3.5
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 3.5
Knoxville, TN 3.5
Austin-Round Rock, TX 3.5
Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL 3.6
Santa Rosa, CA 3.6
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 3.6
Worcester, MA-CT NECTA 3.6
Jefferson City, MO 3.6
Billings, MT 3.6
Asheville, NC 3.6
Durham-Chapel Hill, NC 3.6
Rapid City, SD 3.6
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 3.6
New Haven, CT NECTA 3.7
Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL 3.7
Bangor, ME NECTA 3.7
Battle Creek, MI 3.7
Great Falls, MT 3.7
Ithaca, NY 3.7
Raleigh, NC 3.7
Sumter, SC 3.7
Chattanooga, TN-GA 3.7
College Station-Bryan, TX 3.7
Lubbock, TX 3.7
Eau Claire, WI 3.7
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA 3.8
Danville, IL 3.8
South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI 3.8
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD 3.8
Niles-Benton Harbor, MI 3.8
Lincoln, NE 3.8
Jackson, TN 3.8
Ogden-Clearfield, UT 3.8
Salt Lake City, UT 3.8
Cheyenne, WY 3.8
Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL 3.9
Jonesboro, AR 3.9
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 3.9
Gainesville, FL 3.9
Coeur d'Alene, ID 3.9
Peoria, IL 3.9
Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV 3.9
Springfield, MA-CT NECTA 3.9
Midland, MI 3.9
Kansas City, MO-KS 3.9
Springfield, MO 3.9
Missoula, MT 3.9
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 3.9
Bend-Redmond, OR 3.9
Cleveland, TN 3.9
Lynchburg, VA 3.9
Napa, CA 4
Boulder, CO 4
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT NECTA 4
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL 4
Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL 4
Muncie, IN 4
St. Louis, MO-IL 4
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 4
Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC 4
Wilmington, NC 4
Winston-Salem, NC 4
Eugene, OR 4
Salem, OR 4
Abilene, TX 4
San Angelo, TX 4
Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA 4
Janesville-Beloit, WI 4
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 4.1
Norwich-New London-Westerly, CT-RI NECTA 4.1
Kokomo, IN 4.1
Dubuque, IA 4.1
Leominster-Gardner, MA NECTA 4.1
Muskegon, MI 4.1
Joplin, MO 4.1
St. Joseph, MO-KS 4.1
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY 4.1
Burlington, NC 4.1
Johnson City, TN 4.1
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA 4.1
Mobile, AL 4.2
Fort Smith, AR-OK 4.2
Fort Collins, CO 4.2
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL 4.2
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 4.2
Tallahassee, FL 4.2
Athens-Clarke County, GA 4.2
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 4.2
Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC 4.2
Savannah, GA 4.2
Warner Robins, GA 4.2
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL 4.2
Kankakee, IL 4.2
Terre Haute, IN 4.2
Cedar Rapids, IA 4.2
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA 4.2
St. Cloud, MN 4.2
Kingston, NY 4.2
Gettysburg, PA 4.2
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA 4.2
Morristown, TN 4.2
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 4.2
Wichita Falls, TX 4.2
St. George, UT 4.2
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL 4.3
Jacksonville, FL 4.3
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL 4.3
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 4.3
Brunswick, GA 4.3
Flint, MI 4.3
Cape Girardeau, MO-IL 4.3
New Bern, NC 4.3
Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC 4.3
Memphis, TN-MS-AR 4.3
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 4.3
Sherman-Denison, TX 4.3
Walla Walla, WA 4.3
Morgantown, WV 4.3
Racine, WI 4.3
Gadsden, AL 4.4
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR 4.4
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL 4.4
Panama City, FL 4.4
Rome, GA 4.4
Decatur, IL 4.4
Hattiesburg, MS 4.4
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 4.4
Greensboro-High Point, NC 4.4
Greenville, NC 4.4
Columbus, OH 4.4
Lancaster, PA 4.4
State College, PA 4.4
Odessa, TX 4.4
Valdosta, GA 4.5
Michigan City-La Porte, IN 4.5
Lexington-Fayette, KY 4.5
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 4.5
Saginaw, MI 4.5
Jackson, MS 4.5
Santa Fe, NM 4.5
Goldsboro, NC 4.5
Albany, OR 4.5
Tyler, TX 4.5
Waco, TX 4.5
Olympia-Tumwater, WA 4.5
Casper, WY 4.5
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA 4.6
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 4.6
Greeley, CO 4.6
Macon-Bibb County, GA 4.6
Rockford, IL 4.6
Pittsfield, MA NECTA 4.6
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 4.6
Medford, OR 4.6
Bellingham, WA 4.6
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 4.7
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA 4.7
Hinesville, GA 4.7
Bay City, MI 4.7
Grand Island, NE 4.7
Rochester, NY 4.7
Hot Springs, AR 4.8
Columbus, GA-AL 4.8
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 4.8
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA 4.8
Clarksville, TN-KY 4.8
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL 4.9
Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL 4.9
Port St. Lucie, FL 4.9
Punta Gorda, FL 4.9
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 4.9
Duluth, MN-WI 4.9
Elmira, NY 4.9
Syracuse, NY 4.9
Jacksonville, NC 4.9
Dayton, OH 4.9
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA NECTA 4.9
Killeen-Temple, TX 4.9
Fairbanks, AK 5
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 5
Waterbury, CT NECTA 5
York-Hanover, PA 5
El Paso, TX 5
Prescott, AZ 5.1
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 5.1
Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL 5.1
Dalton, GA 5.1
Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS 5.1
Utica-Rome, NY 5.1
Grants Pass, OR 5.1
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE 5.1
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 5.1
Victoria, TX 5.1
Anchorage, AK 5.2
Tucson, AZ 5.2
Ocala, FL 5.2
Albany, GA 5.2
Owensboro, KY 5.2
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY 5.2
Lebanon, PA 5.2
Laredo, TX 5.2
Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA 5.2
Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA 5.2
New Bedford, MA NECTA 5.3
Reno, NV 5.3
Albuquerque, NM 5.3
Longview, TX 5.3
Kennewick-Richland, WA 5.3
Bowling Green, KY 5.4
Baton Rouge, LA 5.4
Toledo, OH 5.4
Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA 5.4
Texarkana, TX-AR 5.4
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 5.4
Wenatchee, WA 5.4
Colorado Springs, CO 5.5
Dover, DE 5.5
Cumberland, MD-WV 5.5
Barnstable Town, MA NECTA 5.5
Glens Falls, NY 5.5
Fayetteville, NC 5.5
Rocky Mount, NC 5.5
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA 5.6
Lake Charles, LA 5.6
New Orleans-Metairie, LA 5.6
Binghamton, NY 5.6
Akron, OH 5.6
Springfield, OH 5.6
Longview, WA 5.6
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 5.7
Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY 5.7
Houma-Thibodaux, LA 5.7
Lima, OH 5.7
Corpus Christi, TX 5.7
Salisbury, MD-DE 5.8
Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ 5.8
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ 5.8
Reading, PA 5.9
Charleston, WV 5.9
Mansfield, OH 6
Sebring, FL 6.1
Lafayette, LA 6.1
Canton-Massillon, OH 6.1
Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH 6.1
Altoona, PA 6.2
Pittsburgh, PA 6.2
Grand Junction, CO 6.3
The Villages, FL 6.3
Alexandria, LA 6.3
Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ 6.3
Shreveport-Bossier City, LA 6.4
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA 6.4
Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ 6.5
Homosassa Springs, FL 6.6
Parkersburg-Vienna, WV 6.6
Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ 6.7
Chico, CA 6.7
Carson City, NV 6.7
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV 6.7
Beckley, WV 6.7
Redding, CA 6.8
Hammond, LA 6.8
Yakima, WA 6.8
Pine Bluff, AR 6.9
Pueblo, CO 6.9
Monroe, LA 6.9
Erie, PA 6.9
Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH 7
Flagstaff, AZ 7.1
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA 7.2
Farmington, NM 7.3
Cleveland-Elyria, OH 7.3
East Stroudsburg, PA 7.4
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA 7.4
Williamsport, PA 7.4
Brownsville-Harlingen, TX 7.4
Las Cruces, NM 7.5
Watertown-Fort Drum, NY 7.5
Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX 7.5
Wheeling, WV-OH 7.6
Johnstown, PA 7.7
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA 7.9
Modesto, CA 8.3
Stockton-Lodi, CA 8.3
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 8.5
Yuba City, CA 10
Madera, CA 10.5
Fresno, CA 10.8
Ocean City, NJ 11.4
Salinas, CA 11.8
Bakersfield, CA 12
Hanford-Corcoran, CA 12.3
Merced, CA 12.9
Visalia-Porterville, CA 14.5
Yuma, AZ 14.8
El Centro, CA 20.5

For more information on jobs, Louisiana and our economic drivers, read our articles:

February 2020: Unanticipated Consequence of Reduced Affordable Housing

November 2019: New Orleans At The Top Of The Jobless List

October 2019: States Have Worse Than Average Unemployment Rates

louisiana positive covid19 cases
map of louisiana positive covid19 cases

Louisiana Coronavirus Update

3,315 positive cases with 137 deaths due to COVID19.

3.2 million:

Number of adults in Louisiana.

3,315 or 1 in 1000:

Have the virus. If you go to Home Depot today, you are around approximately 150 people. Per trip.

927 or 1 out of 3:

In the hospital that have the virus.

336 or 1 out of 3:

On ventilator that are in the hospital.

137 or 1 out of 2.5

Dead that were on the ventilator.

If you remember your statistics class in business school, the math says if you get the virus, the odds of dying is the sum of 1/3 times 1/3 times 1/2.5 or one in twenty-five.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 substantially reduced corporate taxes, from 35 percent to 21 percent. Some commentators and practitioners have voiced concerns about how the new tax law will affect demand for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), America's primary mechanism for producing new housing. According to Dawn Luke, chief operating officer with Invest Atlanta, the lowering of the corporate tax rate continues to present challenges to the market in terms of LIHTC pricing, with credit prices being lowered by as much as 16 cents on the dollar for projects in the near-term pipeline. Luke says this means that several affordable housing projects could become bottle-necked as developers scramble to find subsidy to fill this gap. In addition, this firm expects that declining demand for LIHTCs will generate 20,000 fewer low-income housing units a year, a roughly 15 percent decline.

How LIHTC Works

It's worth taking a few moments to review how the LIHTC actually works. The LIHTC program, created as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, allows developers to receive tax credits in exchange for committing to rent their units for 30 years to households earning less than 50 to 60 percent of the area's median income. Private developers apply to receive an LIHTC subsidy through their state housing authorities, and are allocated a subsidy equal to a percentage of construction and eligible soft costs. Developers awarded an allocation receive a 10-year annuity of nonrefundable tax credits that they can use to offset positive future federal income tax liability. For example, through the program, the developer of a $10 million apartment building could receive up to $1.17 million a year for 10 years. (This assumes that the developer would receive a 9 percent allocation and the project would be located in either a sufficiently low-income neighborhood or a high-rent metro area.)

Due to the rental restrictions, it is virtually impossible for LIHTC properties themselves to generate enough tax liability to claim the full value of allocated tax credits, so developers need to have either sufficient other federal income tax to offset or the income tax of a limited partner. These outside investors, usually organized through a partnership called syndication, would contribute a fixed dollar amount to the developer upon completion of the subsidized property in exchange for 99.9 percent of the equity, including allocated tax credits, of the project. The allocated tax credits themselves offer a dollar-for-dollar reduction in future tax liability, so changing the corporate tax rate does not directly reduce their statutory value.

Why After-Market Value of Tax Credits Fall

First, the recent tax cuts reduce the pool of firms with sufficient tax liability. If a business has less tax liability than it has tax credits, that business would effectively leave money on the table. The business would have to at least wait until it had enough tax liability to claim the subsidy. Several past investors in LIHTC properties, including Fannie Mae, learned firsthand how illiquid their LIHTC investment actually was after the 2008 financial crisis. With the lower corporate rate and other favorable provisions that are coming out of the new tax law, some firms that previously may have found the investment profitable may well reconsider. Even firms that expect to have large profits may now have greater uncertainty about their future taxes as they work through the 1,100-page bill. The increased risk could cause firms to value less any future reductions in their tax liability.

Depreciate Against Ordinary Income

941 canal streetThe owner of an LIHTC project, like owners of all residential buildings, gets to deduct the building’s depreciation over a 27.5-year schedule. These depreciation allowances, coupled with LIHTC rental restrictions and relatively high operation costs due to compliance with those restrictions, often result in large expected tax losses that go beyond the allocated tax credits. For example, the $10 million apartment building mentioned above would be expected to generate more than $290,000 in depreciation allowances a year that outside investors not limited by passive-loss restrictions (such as C corporations) could use to offset other taxable income. The reduction in the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent would lead to about a $626,000 decrease in outside investors’ willingness to pay developers for those deductions under reasonable assumptions. (A potential headache is that depreciation allowances are subject to recapture if the project is eventually sold for more than tax basis. This provision rarely needs to be enforced.) This represents a 5.9 percent reduction in the overall valuation of the investment, which could require additional debt on the property and perhaps make some projects no longer feasible.

At the same time, lower taxes should expand the supply of market-rate housing. Only a small fraction of low-income households occupies newly built, rent-capped homes produced under the LIHTC. Most of these households use their own earnings or HUD vouchers to pay the market rents for older, existing apartments. A recent study by Stuart Rosenthal in the American Economic Review showed that while newly constructed units are often unaffordable for most households, they eventually supply the majority of future low-income affordable housing. This "filtering down" occurs as a result of physical depreciation or shifts in style or location preferences. If lower taxes generate new market-rate construction—and thus increase the aggregate supply of housing—these lower taxes should lower rents throughout the market or increase landlord participation in HUD voucher programs.

How To Save The Affordable Housing Program

After Hurricane Katrina, the Crystal hot sauce manufacturing plant, located in a residential neighborhood near Carrollton Avenue, was demolished and new affordable apartments constructed.

The Preserve Apartments now stand where a previous industrial site once produced hot sauce. New Orleans worked with developers to change the zoning code and today the apartments are in high demand.

Eriksen and Lang suggest two changes to the LIHTC program that would increase the supply of affordable housing produced under the program without increasing tax expenditures. The first, and most immediate, would be simply to make the allocated tax credits through the LIHTC program refundable, because uncertainty about future tax liabilities reduces both the pool of otherwise eligible investors and the market value of allocated tax credits. Making this change would also give some developers at least the option of claiming the credit themselves rather being forced to partner with outside investors. The second change would allow developers to claim an actuarially equivalent subsidy over a shorter time period than the currently required 10 years. Developers and LIHTC investors are thought to have a much higher cost of capital than the federal government. In the extreme, allowing developers to claim the full value of refundable tax credits when projects are completed would give them the greatest flexibility in financing their projects.

Increasing the supply of housing affordable to low-income families could be achieved using other policies that focus on reducing other barriers to increasing housing production, like state and local zoning laws that limit the location and density of multifamily housing.

For more information on tax credits, read our articles:

Tax Incentives Can Revitalize New Orleans East

Tax Credits For Dummies

New Market Tax Credits


office market new construction vs renovation trend

Researching construction activity across 382 metropolitan markets in the United States, data show new office-construction projects were double office renovations from 2003 to 2008, but then everything changed when financing dried up for new construction projects due to the mortgage industry meltdown and collapse of financial institutions. The surprise is that this 2008 trend still affects the office market today.

Chart 1 shows the composition of office starts, comparing new office construction starts to office renovation starts. Office renovation starts include additions, alterations and conversions from one property type to another. Nationwide statistics come from Dodge Data & Analytics, formerly known as McGraw Hill Construction, which collects project-level data and identifies the type of construction including new construction, addition, alteration, and conversion. Results show that new construction has dropped from 65% to 30% of total construction and office renovation is now around 70% of all office construction.

Number of Office Construction Starts

In chart 2, the blue line represents the number of new office construction starts, and the orange line represents the number of office renovation starts. New office construction starts increased sharply from 2003 until 2005, when the number of projects leveled off. Office renovation starts increased during the same period, though at a much more modest pace, then also leveled off in 2005. New office construction starts began to drop in the first few months of the recession and fell sharply until the middle of 2010, while office renovation starts appeared to continue at a steady pace until halfway through the recession before softening a bit. Both new office construction and office renovation starts flattened out and continued at an unchanged pace throughout the early years of the recovery. New office construction starts experienced very little in the way of an uptick until 2016. Office renovation starts, on the other hand, began to rise at a fairly quick pace starting in 2015.


Office demand nationwide has been steady and is somewhat correlated to GDP but can vary widely by market. In major cities, Class A office space is in high demand, but in smaller markets, office rates are often offset by substantial free rent and tenant improvement allowances. Until financing for new construction becomes more available, new office construction will continue to decline. Eventually this will lead to higher lease rates, which will, in turn, lead to new construction. The free market system will always drive toward equilibrium, so keep on eye on lease rates which will trigger the trend change.

For more information on the office market, read our articles:

Office Market Price Report

Office Space For Lease Defies Law of Economics

Office Lease vs Sale Prices In New Orleans and Metairie

Snapshot of Industrial Market Prices 12.31.2019
Snapshot of Industrial Market Prices 12.31.2019

At year end, there are 284 industrial properties totaling 6.3 million square feet for sale and for lease, comprised of 3.3 million square feet in 193 (67%) properties for lease at $5.38 per square foot and 2.9 million square feet in 91 properties (33%) for sale averaging $45.69 PSF. The average property has been on the market 238 days.  At the beginning of the year, there was one less property listed than at the end, but the total was 5.7 million SF, so 2019 witnessed 600,000 net square feet come on the market, entirely in the leasing market.

The was no change in the square footage for sale. Asking lease rates increased from $5.28 PSF to $5.38 PSF and asking sale prices increased from $41.63 PSF to $45.69 PSF. The numbers defy traditional economics since with no additional supply, sale prices rose and lease prices also rose even though supply increased 15%. The explanation is that newer and more attractive buildings came on the market for sale and for lease, driving prices higher.

Sale Transactions

Commercial real estate agents reported 48 sale transactions in the New Orleans/Metairie MSA industrial sector during 2019, totaling $35 million and 550,000 square feet, with 13 transactions ranging from $1 million to $2.5 million, and the remaining 35 transactions below $1 million. The average price was $800,000 for a 14,000 square foot building, or $64 per square foot, and was on the market for 234 days. Sales were concentrated on the West Bank (35% of total) and in Elmwood (30% of total).

map of industrial sales in 2019
Map of Sales of Industrial Property In 2019

Lease Transactions

There were 97 completed leases totaling 800,000 SF reported in 2019, mostly in the Elmwood area and 25% in the airport area. Lease rates ranged from $3.50 PSF to $13.58 PSF. The leases averaged $7.29 PSF for an 8,000 SF building and were on the market for almost 10 months.

industrial leases
2019 Industrial Leases in New Orleans/Metairie MSA


Chart: Yellow dots show cities with highest jobless rate for September 2019
Of the 51 metropolitan areas with a 2010 Census population of 1 million or more, New Orleans-Metairie had the highest jobless rate in the US at 4.2%, much higher than the 3.3% national unemployment rate which is even lower than the 3.6% rate measured a year earlier.
While September unemployment rates compared to 12 months ago were lower in 254 of the 389 metropolitan areas, rates were higher in 104 areas, and unchanged in 31 areas.  That means 65% of the 389 cities surveyed had better jobless rates compared to a year earlier, and 35% had worse.
A lower unemployment rate does not necessarily mean more people are working because the unemployment rate is the number of unemployed divided by the civilian labor force and the civilian labor force is the sum of employed and unemployed persons. Smaller labor force numbers can occur simply because people who can't find a job have quit looking which removes them from the labor force calculation.
Employed persons are calculated as those who did any work at all for pay or worked 15 hours or more without pay in a family business or farm, plus those not working who had a job from which they were temporarily absent, whether or not paid, for such reasons as labor-management dispute, illness, or vacation.
Unemployed persons are those who were not employed, had actively looked for a job sometime in the 4-week period, and were currently available for work. People on layoff expecting recall need not be looking for work to be counted as unemployed.

Louisiana One Of Only 3 States With 5 Cities Having Unemployment Rates Above 4.5%

Metropolitan area September 2019
Unemployment Rate
Lake Charles, LA 3.70%
Baton Rouge, LA 4.20%
New Orleans-Metairie, LA 4.20%
Houma-Thibodaux, LA 4.40%
Lafayette, LA 4.50%
Shreveport-Bossier City, LA 4.90%
Alexandria, LA 5.00%
Hammond, LA 5.10%
Monroe, LA 5.10%
New Orleans is not the only city in the state with a high jobless rate. In fact, 5 cities have an unemployment rate 4.5% or higher: Lafayette, Shreveport, Alexandria, Hammond and Monroe, making Louisiana one of only 3 states (joining California and Washington) in the US with 5 or more MSA cities who are not participating in the low unemployment rate enjoyed by the rest of the nation.

How Can 65% Of The Cities Have Lower Jobless Rates But Only 14% Actually Have More People Working?

Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 56 metropolitan areas and was unchanged in the remaining 333 areas. That means only 14% of the 389 cities actually had more nonfarm people employed. Nonfarm payroll excludes farmers and self-employed, so the only way to explain that 254 cities have lower unemployment rates but at the same time only 56 cities having higher nonfarm employment is that only farmers and self-employed people went back to work over the last 12 months in 198 (254 minus 56) of the 389 MSA cities. That just doesn't pass the smell test. More on that in our next issue...

Best City To Get A Job: Lowest Unemployment Rate is Ocean City, New Jersey. Worst: Houma, Louisiana

Chart: Top 10 best and worst change in employment, last 12 months:
Ocean City, New Jersey has the lowest unemployment in the US, with 1,942, or 3.3%, jobless of the 52,439 people in the labor force. This compares to 2,222 out of work 12 months ago, so just putting 268 people to work made this city the best place to get a job. What the numbers do not show is that in August 2018, Ocean City had a labor force of 55,336, so while the unemployment rate is low, the city actually had 2,897 (55,336 minus 52,439) fewer jobs from August 2018 to September 2019. The decline in labor force means less income tax revenue, less sales tax revenue, less new businesses opening up and overall a worse standard of living. But almost everyone is working.
Houma, Louisiana shows at the bottom of the list of change in employment over the last 12 months, with a 499 drop from 4,303 to 3,804 unemployed, even though the labor force dropped 2,242 from 87,819 to 85,577. So 499 less are out of a job, but 2,242 left the work force. So the real impact to Houma is the total of 3,804 jobless plus 2,242 no longer counted, or 6,046 which is a 6.8 % of workers over the last 12 months. That's why the unemployment rate of 4.4% that is often quoted is misleading.

What's Alabama Doing Right? Has 5 Cities With Lowest Jobless Rate

Chart: Yellow dots show cities with 2.4% or less unemployment rate
Looking at momentum, Birmingham scores the largest drop in jobless rate with a 1.0% decrease to 2.3%. Jackson, Mississippi witnessed the largest unemployment rate increase at 1.1% to 4.9% during the last 12 month ending September.
In contrast to the poor job outlook for Louisiana and Mississippi, next door neighbor Alabama has 5 cities with the best unemployment rate of 2.4% or less: Auburn 2.2%, Birmingham 2.3%, Fairhope 2.2%, Decatur 2.2%, Huntsville 2.1%.
So what is Alabama doing that Mississippi and Louisiana are not? Birmingham has 10 companies employing over 3,500 workers in diversified industries, including one S&P 500 company, a bank headquarters, auto manufacturer, healthcare and insurance industry employers. Huntsville has NASA employing 6,500 and the US Army employing 35,000, and also has Boeing, Verizon, Northrup Grumman and Toyota.
In summary, the cities with the best job opportunities have several large employers who are diversified and in prosperous industries. To make that happen, cities need to offer a well educated work force, tax incentives and a pro-business government that aggressively seeks new employers.


SIOR magazine

Tariffs are bad. Tariffs are passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices which takes money from consumers and gives it to the government. Government spends the money eventually, but it is always an inefficient spender. It used to be that the Republican Party was against making government bigger and always wanted individuals to have control over their money, but things have changed. And this change is bad for business.


The SIOR Report, a magazine for the commercial real estate industry focusing on the office and industrial markets, recently interviewed Louisiana Commercial Realty broker, Robert Hand, for thoughts on how tariffs will affect the commercial real estate market.  SIOR is the most prestigious commercial real estate trade organization, established in 1939 with 3,300 of the top commercial real estate members in 685 cities and 36 countries.

TariffGate As Of Friday, October 25th

economic war on tariffs

Hand provides some background on the latest tariff news: "Tariff negotiations have been going on for almost 2 years, but on September 1st, Trump imposed a 15% tariff tax on goods purchased by Americans that were made in China. Trump imposed the tariffs on nearly all of the $550 billion in U.S. imports from China because negotiations the month before fell apart. The tariff was then delayed to take effect on December 15th with the idea that by doing so, it would not dampen the economic impact of Christmas sales because the tariff applied to cell phone, toys and computers. As of today, Trump has agreed to cancel $250 billion of tariffs if China will purchase more soybeans and grains and improve protection on intellectual property."

War On Tariffs

Broker Robert Hand is in the trenches, since his clients are looking to build warehouses to store inventory and lease office space to manage growth into a new territory, so he sees effects of tariff talk on businesses who stop expanding during the uncertainty.

Hand explains, "Tariffs steal money from consumers' pockets by causing prices to increase. Tariffs steal creativity, reward inefficiencies and destroy the competitive drive that allows a free market economy to deliver cheaper, smarter and more innovative products."

For more information on tariffs, read Hand's article, "Every Economics Textbook Teaches Us Tariffs Are Bad".


Map of Unemployment by State
The Latest Unemployment Rate of 3.5% Is Only Enjoyed By Half of the States

Not all states are enjoying the benefits of September's 3.5% national average unemployment rate; in fact, 50% of the states have worse unemployment than the average and about 25% have much worse. Only 3 states enjoyed an increase in nonfarm payroll employment: Kentucky, Idaho and Hawaii.


14 States Have The Worse Unemployment Rate

14 States Have The Worse Unemployment Rate

Alaska is suffering the highest unemployment at 6.2%, with Mississippi next in line at 5.4%. Louisiana ranks 9th from bottom at 4.3%. Michigan and Ohio also fall in this category, voting their dissatisfaction.

11 States Rank Slightly Worse Than Average

Eleven States Have Unemployment Rates Slightly Better Than Average

California is a $3 trillion dollar economy, ranked the 5th largest in the world, so it's 4% unemployment puts a drag on the national average. Pennsylvania and New York are also strategic voting states and fall in the slightly worse job category.

14 States Are Slightly Better Than Average

14 States Enjoy Unemployment 3.1% To 3.4%

Texas has no state income tax and is business friendly which helps increase population which leads to jobs. When you add in Florida, Minnesota and Wisconsin plus the middle America states, you can see why better off voters can vote Trump another 4 years.

Best States For Jobs

Vermont had the lowest unemployment rate in September 2019, at 2.2 percent. Something powerful is happening in Alabama, Colorado, and New Jersey which had the largest over-the-year unemployment rate decreases (-0.8 percentage each). 

Table Of Unemployment Rates Per State For August & September 2019

Table: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily.

What's Wrong With Mississippi?

Mississippi's unemployment rate is the 2nd worst in the nation at 5.4%, but it hasn't always been that way. It's been worse. Since 1976 when the Bureau of Labor first reports data, Mississippi only had an unemployment rate below 5% in 2 out of the 43 years: from October 2017 to August 2019.

Chart: Mississippi Unemployment Rate 1976 To 2019

Mississippi Labor Force Is Stagnate For Last 20 Years

Chart: Mississippi Labor Force 1976 to 2019

Mississippi's labor force increased steadily from 1976 at 961,115 to year 2000 at 1,252,180, then stagnated to 1,287,413 in September 2019. That's essentially zero growth in the labor force the last 20 years, even though the unemployment rate is near it's lowest level in 40 years.

Chart: US Labor Force 1976 to 2019

Compared to the national labor force which increased 72% from 1976 to 2019, Mississippi sucks hind teat at 30%. Had Mississippi kept pace with the national average, the labor force would be higher by 365,000, or 30% more workers. Mississippi just need more people moving into the state.

In summary, the unemployment rate is a misleading indicator of health. A steadily growing labor force is a better indicator since it means the population is increasing which leads to more jobs, higher production of goods and services, higher tax revenue for government spending and higher wages which leads to higher consumer spending which further drives new business formation and continues the domino effect.

Louisiana Commercial Realty

Commercial Real Estate Experts
Robert Hand, MBA, CCIM, SIOR
Licensed in Louisiana & Mississippi
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