After 42 years, the Society of Industrial Realtors is about to change its name.
Willis C. Blakeslee, a founding partner of Penta Pacific Properties of Norwalk and 1985 president of the Southern California chapter of the society, says the organization's new name will be formally approved in November during a convention of the National Assn. of Realtors. The society is an affiliate of the realtors' group.
The new name will be Society of Industrial and Office Realtors, and it reflects members' growing interest in offices.
No, they're not giving up leasing and selling industrial properties for office space. The rail-served, simple, box-shaped industrial building is more popular than ever, according to Blakeslee and Charles E. Crookall, a principal of La Mirada-based Crookall, Shirley & Co. and chairman of the Society's 1985 Southern California annual Fall Summit Conference Sept. 27-28 in Newport Beach and Oct. 11-12 in Los Angeles.
With the high cost of land in California, many manufacturing plants have moved elsewhere, but there is great demand for warehousing and distribution space, they said.
"There was an emphasis on high-tech," Crookall noted, "but now we're getting calls from a lot of developers interested in industrial uses in such areas as Cerritos, Santa Fe Springs and La Mirada.
"The users we've talked to are wondering where to set up their distribution plants. A lot of these (users) are from Pacific Rim companies. They need a close-in location. They can't go out to Barstow for their warehousing operations."
High-tech projects--also known as research-and-development facilities or industrial buildings that have been jazzed up with landscaping, better parking and some offices--have generally slipped in popularity, Crookall and Blakeslee said, although there are still some hot spots of activity.
These projects account for some of the industrial real estate brokers' expanded interest in offices. Not long ago, at one of the society's annual fall seminars, the "new, high-tech trend" was subject to much discussion with slide after slide shown of R&D space, as it is called.
High Vacancy Rate
Now, Blakeslee conceded, "some of those R&D buildings won't be on the plus-side of the ledger until the 1990s. Vacancies eat up the economic value of a building."
Crookall said he had heard that there are 24 million square feet of vacant office space in the Los Angeles Basin. That includes R&D space.
However, this figure should be put into perspective. As Crookall pointed out, "You can be on a street corner in Houston and see the vacant office space, but you can't see it if you stand on a corner in Los Angeles."
The reason: The Los Angeles basin is so large, and the 24 million square feet of vacant space is not concentrated in one place. "And while the Irvine office market appears soft, the Westside looks fairly strong," he said.
'Just Plain Hot'
In Irvine, with 9 million square feet of office space in inventory and "three more million coming on, we might ask where the users are going to come from," he went on. Yet, he termed the Long Beach office market "just plain hot."
"Not a year goes by that some segment isn't sick, but it comes back," Blakeslee observed. "The Newport Beach office market will be successful," Crookall added. "It will just take time."
Despite the peaks and valleys, industrial real estate brokers generally have been getting increasingly higher revenues from office-type sales and leases, Crookall said, "and that's why SIR has embraced the office field."
Another reason for the society's name change was suggested by Blakeslee. "Our chapter is in the throes of expanding its membership to include office experts," he said. The chapter, the largest of the 1,800-member Chicago-based organization, has 120 members. (The American Industrial Real Estate Assn., strictly a Southern California group, has about 600 members.)
Until now, Crookall explained, "there has been no national, professional organization like the society, which offers its members designations through the National Assn. of Realtors, for office brokers."
Referring to the Society's high designation, continuing education and ethical standards, Blakeslee said, "The high-caliber office broker, a good businessman, did not have an organization, and ours is a perfect fit."