Katrina fuels rush for commercial real estate

Southern U.S. markets prepare for influx

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The demand for commercial real estate space has spiked in regions surrounding the Hurricane Katrina disaster zone, providing additional stimulus to major commercial market sectors that already were experiencing growth, according to the National Association of Realtors' Commercial Real Estate Spotlight. David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, said key industries in the affected zone must rebuild or relocate to survive. "Over the last week, we've been hearing about rapid absorption of commercial inventories in nearby areas that survived widespread hurricane damage. In addition, the need has extended geographically to other areas with increased demand for space in adjacent states," he said. "The greatest demand appears to be in the industrial, multifamily and office markets, but the long-term impact from Hurricane Katrina is uncertain as displaced tenants rethink their future." With operations shifting away from New Orleans, at least for the short term, markets like Houston, Dallas-Fort Wo...