Written by Sara S. Patterson | March/April 2017
Like The Wild, Wild West TV show in the 1960s, the legalization of marijuana appears slightly surreal. Its momentum and increasing public acceptance in the U.S. is loaded with contradictions from one state to the next and from one municipality to another.Its legalization directly affects the commercial real estate industry, particularly through the rapid price escalation per square foot in the industrial and retail sectors. For example, several warehouses in the cultivation zone of California that would have sold in the range of $30 to $40 psf have jumped as high as $142 psf following the green light from voters in November 2016, according to Joseph W. Brady, CCIM, SIOR, president of the Bradco Companies in Victorville, Calif.
“If commercial real estate transactions are done through the right channels and done correctly, it’s a new opportunity like a tax law change,” says Carl G. Russell, CCIM, SIOR, industrial specialist and senior broker at Pearce Real Estate/George J. Smith Realtors in Milford, Conn. “I suggest CCIMs go after those opportunities by finding out the business people who are involved and see if they are interested in expanding and using your facilities.”
The momentum to legalize cannabis is marching across the nation with heaviest geographic concentration in western states. So far, 28 states and the District of Columbia permit use of medical cannabis, while voters in seven states and the District of Columbia have approved the recreational use of pot.
“The toothpaste is out of the tube, and it will be hard to force it back,” says Brett Harris, CEO of Phoenix Holdings in Denver. “We believe in the momentum and have experienced how the new revenue is helping fill state coffers again.”
Still the uncertainty about whether the federal government will follow the states’ lead lends risk to commercial real estate ventures involving medicinal and recreational marijuana businesses.
Leader of the Pack
Carmen R. Austin, MBA, CCIM has been a practicing commercial real estate broker since 2001. She is a graduate of the Louisiana State University (LSU) E.J Ourso College of Business and the LSU Flores Masters of Business Administration (MBA) Program with a specialization in Entrepreneurship and Real Estate Finance. Her experience includes past employment as Regional Director of Leasing at Commercial Properties Realty Trust, the for-profit arm of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. Carmen is a graduate of the Jay W. Levine Leadership Development Academy, Class of 2011, and served as the 2010 President of the Louisiana CCIM Chapter. She currently serves on the National CCIM Institute Board of Directors and the CCIM Institute Education Foundation Board of Directors.
Carmen’s affiliations include Louisiana REALTORS, Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors Commercial Investment Division, International Council of Shopping Centers, Commercial Real Estate Women,Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute, National Association of REALTORS, and Urban Land Institute. She is also an active volunteer on the Board of Directors for the Baton Rouge Gallery, LSU MBA Alumni Association, Junior Achievement of Baton Rouge, and the Junior League of Baton Rouge.
Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate is a member of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce (BRAC); the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce; the Baton Rouge Better Business Bureau; the Louisiana Commercial Data Base (LACDB); and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Several agents, on an individual basis, are members of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors® (SIOR), the Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute (CCIM); the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR); and the Greater Baton Rouge Association of REALTORS® Commercial Investment Division (CID).