Interview with Capstak Influencer Doug Roberts

Thursday, January 19th 2017

Doug Roberts is responsible for development of office, industrial and retail as the Nevada and Arizona partner of Panattoni Development.

Just as important, Doug develops strong communities through his unflagging commitment to charitable organizations and professional associations.

After earning a sociology degree from Iowa State, Doug worked with children in the nonprofit sector before joining Panattoni in 1995. Newport Beach-based Panattoni has developed industrial, office and flex facilities in 278 cities located in 29 states and nine countries.

Doug’s recent projects include the 770,000-square-foot build-to-suit for Petco in Reno, a 120,000-square-foot BTS for Scientific Games in Las Vegas and a significant portfolio of speculative developments in the region.

He’s the 2016 president of the NAIOP chapter in Northern Nevada and an active member of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors, Nevada Development Authority, Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, Commercial Real Estate Women and CCIM.

Doug also serves as a founding board member of the Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation, which helps families with children battling pediatric cancer, and he is a past president of Reno Central Rotary.

And if that’s not enough, he’s a pretty fair guitar and bass player with pickup rock-and-roll and country groups around town.

Doug Roberts answers the five questions we always wanted to ask him:

1. What projects do you currently have underway in the markets you oversee?

In Northern Nevada, we have two major parks under development.  The North Valleys Commerce Center is a four-building project located near Lemmon and U.S. 395 in north Reno.  Currently, we have two buildings standing; a 707,000-square-foot speculative building that is one third leased and a 423,000-square-foot build-to-suit for Mary’s Gone Crackers that will be completed in the next few weeks.  In addition, we have plans developed for a 352,000-square-foot building, and we can build around a 200,000-square-foot building in the near future.  In south Reno, we have the South Valley Commerce Center under construction with completion scheduled for January of 2017.  There are two buildings at SVCC; one is 180,000 square feet and the other building is 209,000 square feet.  Activity has been good at both parks and in general, throughout the greater Reno-Sparks area.

In Southern Nevada, we have three speculative projects and one build-to-suit underway.  Our speculative projects include a 454,000-square-foot project called Henderson Freeways Crossing in Henderson, a 482,000-square-foot building in a multi-building park called South 15 Airport Park near the Henderson airport, and the Southwest Corporate campus along the 215 Beltway in Southwest Clark County.  The latter is part of the former IGT corporate campus we purchased in the latter part of 2016.  Our BTS is a 68,000-square-foot building for a company called 3G in the airport submarket.

2. What factors are you watching closely to gauge future market demand?

Generally, it is mainly centered on several key variables that I follow, including the overall vacancy rate in the market, the amount of product being constructed and the net and gross absorption on a quarterly basis. Somewhat more subjective is the amount of activity we are seeing from tenants looking for space.  Some submarkets are more in demand than others, which could impact what projects we pursue and why.  On the overall economy, I watch the usual metrics such as GDP growth, but our focus is generally to listen to the real estate brokerage community as they have a good sense of the activity of tenants locally and throughout the country.  Northern Nevada is a distribution powerhouse, and we are in the hunt for most West Coast requirements. So see our share of tenants who are also looking in California, Arizona or Salt Lake City.

3. Are there any challenges, either immediately or on the horizon, that the development sector needs to overcome? If so, how should they be addressed?

Rising costs and a lack of land to develop are likely the main issues we face.  There is not a shortage of capital seeking opportunities, but the projects need to make economic sense.  The underwriting is getting more difficult, and rents haven’t being rising to keep up with rising costs.

4. How does the national and international reach of Panattoni impact your work in Nevada?

Mainly it provides a sense of the overall economy’s health as we can see trends and gauge if one area of the country is hotter than others.  For example, Houston has seen a dip since the oil price drop while Southern California continues to see great activity.  Additionally, we can compare notes on market trends such as higher clear heights inside bigger buildings, check with other partners to see if they have done business with a particular company and in general, get feedback from other professionals on how we approaching a project, etc.

5. What drives your personal community involvement efforts?

My wife and I have felt very fortunate in our lives. In particular, we love the fact that we live in such a giving community.  We have taken it upon ourselves to seek opportunities to give back to this great community as well as in Southern Nevada. We believe in the mantra that says, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

By Capstak