BILL RODEWALD

Senior VP & Regional Manager, Harsch Investment Properties

In what ways has your organization had to “pivot” as the short-term impacts of the pandemic took hold? 

The safety of our tenants, vendors and staff has been our top priority since the start of this pandemic. We then took a look at the financial impact of the pandemic across the Harsch Investment Properties portfolio, which consists of industrial, office, retail and multifamily properties, and assessed what resources our team would need to respond to issues in each product type and for each tenant individually. For our teams across all of the Harsch offices, it has been “all hands on deck,” as we work through what we need to do to keep our tenants operating safely and prepare our properties for a shift in how the public and our tenants use these physical spaces.  We were looking forward to introducing our first speculative industrial project in Tucson at an incredible ribbon cutting event in March with the Mayor, City Council members and industry leaders, but that had to be delayed due to the pandemic. Our plan has always been to open a regional office in Tucson to serve our tenant base throughout Arizona. We moved forward with those plans despite the pandemic and it has been key to our success in retaining tenants and growing our footprint in the market. We’re now looking at filling the remaining vacancy at Tucson Airport Distribution Center with some amazing distribution tenants.

What trends are you experiencing in your own industry, across the U.S. and globally, related to expected long-term impacts of the pandemic? 

The most dramatic trend in the commercial real estate industry is the increased demand for warehouse and distribution space. The need for large functional buildings to accommodate e-commerce and last-mile users has exploded because of the pandemic and will likely have permanent implications going forward. The office and retail sectors have been negatively impacted in the short term and have required individual tenant attention and cooperation, but those sectors should improve as we move toward an end to the pandemic. 

From your business vantage point, what qualities put the Tucson region in a position to recover quicker economically and more effectively than other regions?   

Open space and attitude. There has been a documented flight from densely built and populated cities because of the pandemic, with many companies learning they can survive and thrive outside of a downtown high rise. Employees now realize that hour-long commutes on subways or on crowded freeways are avoidable. Las Vegas, Reno, Salt Lake City, Boise and Tucson should benefit from these trends. The attitude component involves what I see as an amazing team approach in Tucson involving local government, education, industry and business leaders toward smart growth and a strong economy. Harsch Investment Properties is active in many communities on the West Coast and rarely do we see the level of cooperation among local stakeholders. Sun Corridor Inc. plays a significant role in this dynamic and they will be an important part in the recovery of the region.

What are some of the attributes of Tucson that you personally enjoy?

Beyond the friends and business partners that I have met and worked with, I absolutely love the natural resources and outdoor opportunities available in and around Tucson. The food scene is another huge plus as are the wonderful hotels and resorts. The Arizona Inn seems like my second home.

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