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Signs of Utah's economic health are plentiful in the state's commercial real estate markets, described Wednesday as "amazing" and "magnificent."
In fact, as experts on property devoted to retail, offices, apartments and warehouses gathered in Salt Lake City to review 2015, their comments bordered on euphoric.
Last year "will be remembered as possibly one of the most robust since the prolonged economic recession, and certainly one of the best across all market sectors along the Wasatch Front," said Jason England, Utah president of NAIOP, representing brokers, developers, owners and investors in commercial real estate.
Investors poured more than $1.8 billion into buying commercial properties in Utah in 2015, the third straight year that number climbed above its prior high.
Total transactions might have been higher still, many brokers said, if Utah had more top-dollar properties for sale.
Much of that investment cash is coming from outside the state as national real-estate trusts, pension funds and other large portfolio managers seek to spread their bets and seek bargains outside larger, more expensive metro markets.
The commercial real-estate industry's current star multifamily housing added 4,100 apartments to Utah's inventory last year as many young adults and retirees opt for renting and urban living instead of buying single-family suburban houses. Even with that added supply, vacancy rates remain low and rents continue to inch upward.
"It was another impressive year on many fronts," said Brock Zylstra, a multifamily-housing expert with the brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap. Multifamily housing markets haven't seen a comparable a two-year stretch, he added, since the 1990s.
Utah's largest real-estate investment deal in 2015 was, in fact, in the multifamily sector: the $56 million sale of The Crossing at Daybreak, a 315-unit apartment complex in South Jordan.
Real estate's retail sector also is doing well. Asking rates on shopping spaces fed by demand from home-grown and national chains of retailers, grocers and restaurants seeking to expand are at an all-time high.
Improvements are underway at several regional shopping centers and new malls are planned in Riverton, Spanish Fork and Lehi.
Contrary to some predictions, brick-and-mortar shopping outlets are doing well alongside expanding e-commerce. That has put industrial buildings devoted to order-fulfillment, warehousing and distribution in high demand, thanks to Utah's location.
The state added a record-breaking 2.9 million square feet of industrial space in 2015 and had 1.6 million under construction, large portions of it in Salt Lake City's northwest quadrant.
At the same time, millions of square feet of new office space are also going up in Utah, fueled by job growth and large employers relocating to the state. Key hot spots downtown Salt Lake City, southwest Salt Lake County and the so-called Silicon Slopes along the Salt Lake-Utah County border are developing at a historic pace.
Lease rates for high-end offices, meanwhile, topped $30 per square foot for the first time in some locales, including Salt Lake City's downtown business core.