The state of real estate according to Lunsford

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, IN - The demand for real estate, whether manufacturing, warehouse, office or retail is growing in Delaware County, according to Mike Lunsford, real estate developer and broker at Coldwell Banker Lunsford.

 And Lunsford and his partners, Mutual Bank, Whitinger & Co.,and  IN Title Co.offered some projections about an ending recession and new deals, whether they be a new downtown hotel, a pending development at the old Borg Warner facility on Kilgore Avenue or even a reported of a John Deere plant in eastern Indiana.

 "We are cautiously optimistic," said Lunsford, talking to money and real estate interests during a state of commercial real estate lunch Wednesday at Ball State University Alumni Center.

 The report filled with 2011 data and 2012 projections pointed to a strong first quarter in real estate locally besides some new deals that will bring more jobs and a better economy to Middletown that has seen its historic Chevrolet plant turn to a gravel lot and that Borg Warner plant that empty shell.

 Local realtors and money lenders know that Muncie does not have the market of Indianapolis, the Nestles Bunny and Hoosier Park race track of Anderson or even a large General Motors plant like outside Fort Wayne along the Interstate 69 corridor. It even has no string of warehouses like Wal-Mart or Dollar General in Grant County.

 So the hustle with real estate revolves around McGalliard Road, Ball State University and that suburb and newly reorganized town of Yorktown.

 Jim Kouns, veteran real estate broker, led the discussion with both summary and outlook of last year and the coming months.

 Manufacturing and warehouse activity has increased to the point there's a shortage of available industrial development land. Mid-West Metal Products just took up an empty corner of the southside Industrial Centre for its new headquarters and warehouse and a new shell building is filling out the Airpark Industrial Center. Park One has some land although Mursix recently moved to a vacant building there taking up the rest of available building space.

 Office and retail also has seen increased activity although development has been slow in downtown Muncie as more office operations go virtual, meaning less need for offices. 

  And multi-family housing is booming especially around BSU with that new 216 unit apartment building on McGalliard Road at Oakwood Avenue, 1700 Bethel, and Kensington Apartments.

  There's plenty of speculation about what will happen when BSU tears down LaFollette Hall complex, and where those 1,900 students will go, James Gierhart, who gave a housing update, hoped students would flock to private housing, saying they preferred a house over an apartment, with new apartments and even dorms resembling private homes fully connected online with washer, dryers and central heating and cooling.

  Jay Allardt, who runs American United Appraisal Co., offered some basic real estate economics and where the money goes along with census figures pointing to where everybody sees the growth, Yorktown.

 Yorktown grew from 10,812 people in 1980, according to the U.S. Census to 14,102 in 2010, and that does not count the new Yorktown that is the entire Mount Pleasant Township. That new government has been spending money on new sewers, a new sports park and other development to keep its crown jewel, Park One industrial center, and the Brevini Wind operation as the hallmark of recent development.

 Mike Hicks, that BSU economist who always predicts gloom with rising gasoline prices, offered an end to the recession and suggested a smaller footprint in the community given overall population is not rising. Growth continues to come around Indianapolis and point west, as Hicks agreed with real estate, appraisal and bank interests. 

 But as Lunsford said, negotiations for a Borg Warner development, a possible 120 room hotel downtown and other industrial interests inquiring about Delaware County,  the economy is promising in 2012 just like the upcoming national election.