By Neil Nisperos, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 01/23/15, 8:53 PM PST |

RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> The head of one of Southern California’s largest development companies predicted local economic growth in the coming year in a keynote speech in front of hundreds of real estate brokers at the Goldy S. Lewis Community Center in Rancho Cucamonga on Friday.

Randall Lewis, executive vice president of the Lewis Group of Cos., at his State of the Inland Empire speech for the West End Real Estate Professionals Breakfast Meeting, said the Inland Empire economy has turned the corner.

“We’re entering a period which should be steady growth but not explosive growth,” Lewis said. “The next three or four years will mean steady, good times, maybe not as much in the boom era, but it will protect us against big downturns.”

In his review of 2014, Lewis said home sales were good at the beginning of the year, though it slowed down in the last three or four months, despite excellent interest rates and loan programs.

Construction and land costs rose, though good parcels of land have been acquired by developers over the past year, he said. There was stronger investment at the beginning of the year, which slowed down.

Apartments, he said, are a bright spot of the real estate industry. Occupancy and rents remained very strong for properties, he said.

Retail sales saw continued disruption in the marketplace thanks to the growth of online shopping, Lewis said.

“It definitely continues to put pressure on businesses where you can purchase things on the Internet, versus the businesses where you can’t, yet people continue to seek entertaining environments where they can enjoy the shopping, eating, dining and entertaining experience,” said attendee Brad Umansky, president of the Rancho Cucamonga-based commercial real estate brokerage firm Progressive Real Estate Partners. “(Online sales have) definitely bit into the retail market, but I think we’ve seen most of the bite. I think 70 percent of retailers are looking at more stores next year. I think that’s a pretty positive sign (brick and mortar) retail is here to stay.”

The industrial real estate market, which includes logistics facilities, remains extremely strong, Lewis said, with more new buildings and more jobs coming to the area.

“Industrial will continue to remain strong because of all the attributes our area has with transportation and people,” Umansky said. “Tetail, especially in the restaurant and service sector, will continue to strengthen.”

Lewis said land sales to builders were strong in the first part of 2014, with his company entitling new projects such as the Park Place community in Ontario, a Stater Bros. in Redlands, and the Enclave Apartments in Rancho Cucamonga.

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