Cincinnati commercial real estate expecting boom in 2014

University of Cincinnati researchers believe they have a knew method to light commercial buildings.

As financial institutions and lenders begin to loosen loan standards, commercial real estate spending is expected to pick up in Greater Cincinnati.

According to, the Mortgage Bankers Association predicted the value of commercial and multifamily mortgages would increase to $254 billion this year, which would be an 11 percent jump from 2012.

The Cincinnati commercial real estate sector is still well below the robust levels seen in 2006, but it has improved greatly from the pits seen in 2009.

"The market's recovering, not great, but it's recovering," said Nicholas Lingenfelter, WesBanco Bank's vice president of commercial real estate lending in Mason, Ohio. "That's the big thing."

One sector progressing rapidly due to more generous loan standards is multifamily developments. Panelists at the Greater Cincinnati chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women stated that lending in the area had been toughest for speculative developments, land purchases and office space.

With small and midsize businesses finally finding it easier to acquire loans, Lingenfelter believes the retail sector will be the next area of strength for the city. He said retail development should demonstrate the economic standings of individual neighborhoods and communities.

Lori Schaeper, vice president at Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati, told that she expects her company's commercial real estate portfolio to grow a great deal throughout 2014.
Schaeper noted that low vacancy rates alongside high demand are fueling action in the apartment market. Schaeper also said that Fifth Third Bank has altered its underwriting standards, meaning that the company is trying to safeguard itself to ensure borrowers can fulfill their promises.

Lightbulb goes off for Cincinnati researchers

Anton Harfmann and Jason Heikenfeld, two researchers at the University of Cincinnati, recently presented a research paper on technology they have labeled "SmartLight."

The innovation – for which Harfmann and Heikenfeld are currently looking for funding – could makes waves in the commercial real estate sector, as it works to light commercial buildings by storing sunlight and distributing it through the darkest corners of a commercial building throughout the day.

"The SmartLight technology would be groundbreaking. It would be game changing," said Harfmann, an associate professor in Cincinnati's School of Architecture and Interior Design. "It would change the way buildings are designed and renovated. It would change the way we would use energy and deal with the reality of the sun. It has all sorts of benefits and implications that I don't think we've even begun to touch."

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