The Swartz Report: A Totality Awesome Trip with My Daughter

Don SwartzPost written by Donald Swartz, President and Principal at Swartz + Associates, Inc. | Lover of Chiefs, Royals and golf | Avid “Cruiser” | Poker Enthusiast


As you may know from reading previous postings, August marked my third (and most likely, final) drive back to college with my daughter. This year provided a bonus not witnessed in almost 100 years. The lunar eclipse occurred the day we made our trek back east to PA and leaving Kansas City on a Monday coincided with the viewing.

This was going to be tricky as Kansas City was on the edge of “totality” but staying here would have put us several hours behind schedule. However, after reviewing several maps and discovering the path would intersect with Interstate 70 around Columbia, MO, I was ultimately able to convince my daughter we could leave for school AND catch the eclipse.

Stopping at a rest area on I-70 in Wright City, MO, we were in the path of totality and were hoping the rain and clouds we left in Kansas City would not follow us east. Boy, were we in for a show. The sky was perfect; the area wasn’t crowded (possibly 100 or so at the rest area) and we were treated to an awe inspiring, life altering spectacle.

I’ve rarely been so moved by the moon and stars, but this was truly amazing. Our total time watching the partial and then total eclipse at the rest area reached almost 90 minutes – those minutes together will never be forgotten. I’m confident those of you fortunate enough to witness the event will agree – it was incredible.

Our second awe inspiring event occurred a few hours before reaching our final destination. We chose to take a slight detour off the PA turnpike and head to Shanksville, PA and visit the Memorial for Flight 93.

The sky was as blue and cloudless as September 11, 200, and I was trying to envision the sight of a commercial airplane plummeting to its demise – the heroic passengers saving untold lives by not allowing the hijacked aircraft to reach its intended destination.  Reflective and somber indeed but actually helpful in providing perspective to an incoming Senior trying to figure out what her future holds.

Not quite the road trip of previous years, but I believe it was more meaningful than all of the other previous drives combined.

Moving on. Here’s the latest on the property tax front…

I recently read an article in National Real Estate Investor entitled The Top 10 Cites with the Highest Commercial Property Taxes.

Counties and other assessing jurisdictions are taking advantage of the improved economy to adjust their real estate valuations accordingly and, as a result, values in many jurisdictions have now surpassed the pre-crash (2008) values.

What is most interesting to me is how real estate values are continually climbing in the retail sector, in spite of the fact over 1,000 retail stores have closed within the past 18 months. Additionally, publicly held, retail operations are being punished in the marketplace.  Here is a quick glance at a few retailers:

Company Current Price 52 Week High % Decline
Target  $                       59.50  $                    79.30 24.97%
Costco  $                     161.00  $                 183.00 12.02%
Simon  $                     161.00  $                 215.00 25.12%
GGP  $                       21.65  $                    28.90 25.09%
Kroger  $                       21.37  $                    36.44 41.36%
AMC  $                       15.93  $                    35.65 55.32%

Ultimately, something’s going to have to give, but with economic constraints on the jurisdictions, I don’t see real estate valuations in the property tax world dropping anytime soon. Stay tuned…

As always, I appreciate your continued interest in my posts. If you would like assistance in the review of your property tax valuations or the valuation of machinery and equipment, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (913) 766-8761or .

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