"Exciting" is a word Steve Center uses often in describing the North County coastal commercial real estate scene.
"It's a very exciting, dynamic market," said Center, senior managing director and office manager at Cushman & Wakefield's regional headquarters in University City. "We're seeing companies come from Orange County and look at opportunities in North County. We're also seeing companies go from Del Mar Heights, for example, which is very high rent and a class-A market, move north as well. So that's an exciting dynamic.
"In North County, there still are sites to develop, so it attracts developers," he said. "Years ago, it was a relief valve for UTC and Del Mar Heights, but now it's really coming into its own. So I think if you're looking at North County with the same lens as we saw in the last cycle, you're not seeing the opportunity."
Center said the approximately 160 employees in the firm's three San Diego region offices are helping large and small companies alike make the most of the improved economy.
Specialists in class-C properties have been called in to help out as the market matures, he said.
"The fundamentals look good for 2014," he added. "Vacancies have dropped, and net absorption has plugged along. That's really improving the environment for the more eastern portion of Carlsbad. With projects like the Caruso Affiliated retail development contemplated for the strawberry fields off Cannon Road, that's an indirect indicator that this market has matured.
"The developments Caruso has done -- the Grove in L.A. and Americana at Brand in Glendale -- are spectacular," Center said. "They are so well-executed. And a firm like that doesn't develop that quality of real estate in a place that doesn't justify without a demographic and a level of household wealth.
"So those kinds of things really tell me Carlsbad is a different kind of place than it was in every cycle before. I think it's got a bright future, and that's really exciting," Center said.
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