It is the middle of April; the temperature is 35 degrees and it is snowing in Omaha which seems an appropriate start to the second quarter of 2020. The past 60 days have included heart breaking sadness and recognition of heroes once taken for granted. The emotions of the experience will take time to define but will include an enduring pride in the “get it done” spirit of those I have had contact with.
At Metonic/Apogee we have learned new words including “COVID-robe,” which is the standard attire for those only seen from the waist up; my COVID-robe includes rotating days of baseball caps and my closet of new hoodies. We also coined “COVID-cation” for the employees of other companies who may be taking advantage of the remote working experience.
I have my own Zoom account and those I speak with are grateful for the 40-minute time limit. We are getting better with each video chat while realizing the random unscheduled meeting may be interrupted by the kid home from school or dog that is happy to have its family around all day every day.
Through it all, our real estate portfolio is performing admirably and our management teams have been terrific.
- Our office portfolio is well occupied, and more than 90% of April rents were collected in the first 10 days of the month. With the exception of Omaha, each of our office locations is shelter in place as mandated by local authorities; nonetheless we are communicating with our office management and brokerage teams weekly. This week we agreed to business terms on a 10,000 square foot lease with a very well-known local brand in Indianapolis.
- The apartment managers have done an amazing job ramping up video tours for new applicants. As a result, our leasing has barely missed a beat. We initiated a Grubhub promotion to encourage our residents to stay at home and support local businesses, but also to renew their leases early. Rent collections at the residential properties are off their norm by a small amount and we expect them to catch up through the balance of the month.
- The retail tenants in our centers have been hit the hardest even as our grocery anchor has a packed parking lot. The spirit of entrepreneurship is amazing. The small business community has been quick to apply for assistance through the SBA and their banks. Many of our businesses are required to be closed by local order or they are operating under very strict occupancy guidelines. This month we entered into a partnership with our restaurant tenants that allowed a delivery of meals to first responders who were very grateful. We are working with our business clients in partnership of our collective situation. We are hoping for a return to a new form of normal early in the summer.
In the past month I have been introduced to a host of new friends, most of whom I have never met in person. The list includes tenants in our buildings, contractors that do work for us, loan servicers, and first responders grateful for a meal we sent their way. In the midst of the chaos that surrounds us, Metonic and our partners are providing essential service to our customers and caring for our real estate for our investors and we will be ready for whatever comes next and happy to see the snow melt!