Where in the World is Ryan Schwalbe? - August 2023
Carmen Sandiego isn't the only one who goes on a walkabout every once in a while!
On a whim, two months ago, Ryan decided to buy a plane ticket and research the commercial real estate market of a far-flung place to learn how other folks do business and bring back any nuggets of wisdom to the Alaska market and his clients.
As a result, the second week of August, he hopped on a plane, and after a layover in Frankfurt, he touched down in Riga, Latvia.
While there, he talked to lawyers, bankers, Latvian hockey federation members, and even a former prime minister of Latvia.
A couple of takeaways:
Unlike Alaska, there are buildings dating back to the 1500s, specifically in the "Old Town" of Riga, defined by the city's walls during Swedish, German, and Russian rule.
The city has a history of large (for Alaska standards) apartment buildings with ground-floor retail components. We know it as mixed-use multi-family; however, they call them "profit houses."
There is a large concentration and volume of beautiful Art Deco buildings.
Like Alaska, Riga, Latvia's capital and largest city, has experienced a population decline in the last five to ten years due in part to working-age Latvians getting educated elsewhere in the EU and a search for greener economic pastures.
New industrial and retail construction near the airport is predominantly financed by local Latvian banks for local and EU companies.
Riga has Europe's largest market/bazaar. Fish, meat, clothes, fruits, vegetables, and more can be bought and sold in five repurposed zeppelin hangers.
And many more!
Ryan said, "All in all, I enjoyed my trip. Riga and the surrounding area are beautiful and safe, with quality infrastructure. I was lucky to meet up with some high school and college friends while I was there!
-Jeff O. (Spire Commercial Real Estate - Office Admin)