I'm in the camp that would argue that things are looking up as much as ever across the South.
I don't see the office market, over the long term, being independent of other megatrends. Macroeconomic factors and other forces are pulling the nation toward the South as its future core. Just look at any of the raw data, even in the 2001-2003 post-boom period. Housing starts, immigration, migration, age demographics, and prices all strongly favor the continued emergence of the South. Its only a matter of time.
I'll also go as far as to engage in a little regionalism, since I spent many years in the gloomy Northeast. I'd say that that the South is in the process of being the driving culture in steering the nation toward its future.
In terms of corporate culture, just look at Walmart in consumer retail, Dell in computers, and Lowe's (or Home Depot- pick your winner) in home improvement, or even Krispy Kreme in donuts. All the substance of economic transformation is coming from the region. This is not by accident.
Charlotte has become home for 2 of the 4 largest US banks. As for the regional banks, from end to end of the South, they are incredibly strong. They are a key engine in financing the strong regional growth.
You can check out many sectors only to find that the trend of winners vs. losers favors the region. Airlines, for instance. (UAL = old-world union culture out of the Midwest = Big Loser)
Sure, the NYTimes likes to ignore the NYC sleeze and bash the culture of Worldcom and Enron, so conveniently linkable to Bush republicanism. But I would argue that story was really about too many "imported" Ivy League educated MBAs from the northeast coming down and making ties with the Wall Street IB crowd to cash in on their "entitlement" to make their first $5M without breaking a sweat.
OK, so this is a HIW board. So I'll feed you some of today's local HIW news while I'm at it... HIW landed State Farm for a lease at GlenLake. IMHO, GlenLake is a fantastic strategic property for the future. Also, GlaxoSmithKline renewed some their space that sits up on the corner of RTP. Gee, I wonder if GSK, the world's #4 drug company, is using it for a call center. That's all we do here in the South! LOL!
Outstanding post rgt_stff! Goes a long way to counter those who dismiss on the facile argument about "barriers to entry".
While land and permitting are easier in the south, so they were in California in the 50's and 60's (I was there). It could be argued that this helped to fuel their growth. Now that they are burocracized, politically correct, in hock, and tied down in regulations, we'll see what their growth is going forward. Ditto the Northeast, and to some extent maybe even Atlanta which comes the closest to emulating a large northern city.