One CCIM uses his expertise to aid in Katrina devastation.
A year ago, Quentin D. Dastugue, CCIM, chief executive
officer of Property One in New Orleans
was featured in Commercial Investment Real Estate’s CCIM Spotlight for his
efforts helping to rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina. Dastugue and his
partners continue to persevere through the slow process of rebuilding. Commercial
Investment Real Estate asked Dastugue to share what has been happening with his
Gulf region properties since last year.
Click on this link to read Dastugue’s Spotlight feature.
CIRE: What is the rebuilding status? Are you still cleaning
up? Have you been able to move tenants back into properties?
: Rebuilding is slow but moving forward. The
government has started a program called The Road Home, which pays homeowners
for their losses. Once they get money, they then will figure out if they want
to rebuild or not.
We still are cleaning up the French Quarter, Uptown, and the
central business district. Some areas still are desolate, but a lot of
businesses were able to move back into their spaces after six to eight months.
Office and industrial had the highest return rate, only about 20 percent didn’t
come back. Retail still is extremely sporadic.
CIRE: What has happened with temporary space users? What
will happen once they vacate?
: Some temporary space users still are in place, but
they are all winding down. The Federal Emergency Management Agency didn’t take
too much space and still is present in Baton
Rouge, La. While we
handle the leasing for the building, U.S. Agencies is the company that owns the
building FEMA rents from. They will be moving in, although we are not sure how
much space they will use. At the moment, I am not aware of anyone moving out. Baton Rouge, Lafayette,
La., and the CBD of New Orleans all
are tight and have healthy occupancy rates. However, if there is more space
being put out, then that will create a negative effect on the market.
CIRE: What were some of the challenges you encountered while
rebuilding? How were you able to work through them?
: [Seemingly] easy things such as getting utilities
turned on, building inspections, and government approvals take hours and days
instead of minutes.
CIRE: Are you still working out of a temporary office?
: No, I have been back in my office since the end of
CIRE: Using your past experience as a state representative,
how were you able to help with the rebuilding effort?
: Understanding how the system works, I was able to
help my friends in public office get through the red tape a little quicker.
Using my expertise and familiarity with the system, I helped them get their
inspections done, meters approved, and utilities turned on.
CIRE: Do you find that more real estate pros are heading to
the Gulf region to lend a hand and share their expertise?
: While some people within the region left to pursue
different opportunities, real estate professionals from other areas have not
really come to help do business here. I have made new business relationships
with brokers who already had tenants here, and I would welcome the help of
anyone who was willing to lend a hand.
CIRE: Where do you think the Gulf region real estate market
is headed? What were the first and what will be the last properties to come
back? What still needs to happen in the market and how can people help?
: The region is definitely in for a boom economy in
the next three to five years. Money from the Road Home program, grant money,
and construction money will help with rebuilding. Currently, levees, highways,
and bridges are in the process of rebuilding.
properties, office was first to come back because the existing companies needed
to get back to work. Retail will most likely be the last. At the moment, the
worst hit areas have zero retail.
In order to
help with the rebuilding, everybody just needs to put their heads down and get
to work. On the inside, people can help by cleaning up and restarting
businesses or starting businesses for the first time. As for people not in the
area, sending volunteers and money always helps.
CIRE: What’s next for you? Do you plan on branching out to
other markets rather than your current location?
: I plan to stay in Louisiana. I have been doing a lot of
developing, and I continue to manage commercial and residential condos. I can’t
talk about any new projects yet, but one that I am working on is with the
Episcopal Church. We have teamed up to help build 100 single-family homes in
the central city to help out those families still in need after the devastation
of Hurricane Katrina.