[Source: Brian Louis, Bloomberg] — Drive up to the Peaks Corporate Park in north Scottsdale, Arizona, and the only person you’ll encounter at the luxury office complex is a security guard. The development was planned to offer executive suites with views of the McDowell mountains, neighbors such as General Electric Co. and a location just minutes away from Jack Nicklaus’s Desert Mountain golf courses. Plans to lure tenants haven’t materialized and today the complex in this city next to Phoenix is empty, the entrance blocked by a traffic barricade.
Delinquencies in the Phoenix area on loans backed by office, industrial, retail and apartment properties have risen more than five-fold since March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Phoenix region has the second-worst U.S. delinquency rate, behind Detroit’s 10 percent. In Phoenix, the economic recovery looks a lot like a recession. “A commercial recovery in markets that are heavily dependent on construction will be slow, which means the overall recovery will lag the nation as a whole,” said Susan Wachter, a real estate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in Philadelphia. “These are more volatile markets and getting back to normal could take years.”
Phoenix and other southern and western cities such as Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas grew because they offered an affordable lifestyle to middle-class Americans, said Edward Glaeser, an economics professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That growth has slowed. The Phoenix area’s population is forecast to increase 1.6 percent in 2009 from 2008 and 1.8 percent in 2010, according to a forecast by Scottsdale, Arizona-based real estate and economic consulting firm Elliott D. Pollack & Co. That’s the slowest growth since at least 1990. Employment may fall 6 percent in 2009 and another 1 percent in 2010, according to the firm.
The real estate crisis has brought economic growth to an end. Arizona had the highest unemployment rate since 1983 in July at 9.2 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate fell to 9.1 percent in August. Single- family building permits in metropolitan Phoenix may fall to 5,973 this year, down 81 percent from 2007, according to a consensus forecast of real estate and consulting firms and universities compiled by Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. “The economy in Phoenix is in tatters right now,” said Matthew Anderson, a partner at Foresight Analytics LLC in Oakland, California. “It’s now really hit the skids.” [Note: Read the full article at Recession rising like Phoenix with area delinquencies surging.]