- March 1, 2014: Vol. 26, Number 3

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Tier 1.5 cities: The gap between first- and second-tier cities has enlarged to the point where a new category is warranted

by John Portman IV

As an active participant in the real estate development and investment business for more than 60 years, we have observed and participated in numerous megatrends in the United States. These have been varied — from the large-scale urban mixed-use growth of the 1960s and 1970s, to the institutional investor diversification into equity real estate of the 1980s, to the globalization of U.S. real estate equity sources during the 1980s and 1990s, to the growing global investment focus on primary (Tier 1.0) U.S. markets during the 1990s and 2000s.

Now, we are witnessing and benefiting from another emerging trend (call it the trend of the 2010s). It is the increased focus of most institutional participants on what we have been referring to as Tier 1.5 and Tier 2.0 markets. Allow me to explain.

From an institutional real estate viewpoint, the difference between first-tier cities (1.0) and second-tier cities (2.0) appear to be enlarging to the point where a new category is just

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