Commercial Real Estate, Capital, Insurance, Leasing & Management

GrowthSpotter: Innovation and communication will shape the post-COVID office building

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With demand for new office space at historic lows, developers and landlords are turning to technology and innovative design to lure employers back to the workplace.

Upgraded air filtration systems, touchless doors and bathroom fixtures and UV antiviral lighting are just a few of the features Patrinely Group is building into the new Hewlett Packard Enterprises headquarters in Houston as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. CEO Robert Fields told a panel at the National Association of Real Estate Editors 2020 Conference this is the cost of doing business after COVID.

Yvonne Baker, managing partner for Franklin Street in Orlando, told GrowthSpotter that while some markets are rebounding, she doesn’t expect to see any new spec office construction in Central Florida in the near future.

“In real estate there’s always winners and losers,” Baker said. “Texas is a big winner in this thing. A lot of companies are moving from California and New York to these other markets like Houston and Austin.”

Some Orlando users are returning to the office. Baker said Franklin Street is now back in its office at 20 N. Orange Ave., and she just signed a lease for 3,400 square feet in the same building.

But several large office users are canceling their leases. “Liberty Mutual is giving back 100,000 square feet. And Disney had one building in Celebration is was leasing. It was 100,000 square feet, and they’re giving it back,” she said. “When you have huge pockets like that, you can’t justify building a new building.”

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