A turnaround in commercial real estate?

Talk of an impending recession aside, can a recovery in commercial real estate be far behind if a Center City law firm that for the past few years has been touting its distressed real estate practice announces that it has established a new  “real estate recovery group?”

This is what Ballard Spahr has done, and it is premised on the idea that commercial real estate is poised for an upturn.

They might be in a position to know. Ballard and other law firms have been doing substantial business in recent years helping to broker transactions involving commercial buildings in some degree of financial distress. The firm says this specialty accounts for a significant share of its overall real estate practice. Now , the chair of the Ballard’s real estate department, Michael Sklaroff, says Ballard is trying to position itself for a recovery.

“We are now seeing transactions that we have not seen in the last three and half years, and lenders are beginning to lend,” he said.

Partner Dominic De Simone, who will lead the new practice group with David Barksdale, a partner based in Los Angeles, said signs of recovery are very uneven and occurring only in discreet segments – New York is one, Washington, D.C. another. The difference is that money has been in greater supply and more traditional, straightforward transactions – deals that don’t necessarily involve complex workouts – are taking place.

There are plenty of conflicting indicators out there on whether another recession looms. Ballard’s announcement can be added to the list.