5 Learnings on Companies, Cities and Post-Pandemic Real Estate
Forward-looking companies are not just going to cut office space. They will take location more seriously than ever, making corporate urbanism and community engagement a centerpiece of their overall strategy.
Executives who are still making bold statements today about divesting office space have been blinded by operating budget, rather than running the numbers on culture, productivity and talent wellbeing. Surely the form and function of workplace need to adapt to new behaviors. A mix of hub and spoke offerings near where talent is living, complemented with a really premium HQ environment where people connect in curated event settings becomes more obvious.
In a post COVID19, remote working reality, economic development will be tied even more to talent attraction. What I recognize across our advisory portfolio is a trend towards densification and diversification, turning office locations into mixed-use ecosystems where talent really sticks.
1. Google gets green light to build new urban quarter in Dublin
This development at Boland’s Quay “will bring new activities and people to a part of Grand Canal Dock that has remained dormant for already two decades”.
Tech giant Google has secured planning permission to transform ground floors of two of its towers at its €300m development at Boland’s Mill into a marketplace to facilitate local food and craft businesses.
Learning: Get your timing right. Public & private operate at different speeds
2. Ford Motor Mobility District in Detroit
The Ford Motor Company has released a new plan for an innovation and mobility district in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighborhood. The plan involves a multiyear development that includes the restoration of the iconic Michigan Central Station and multiple revitalized buildings that will serve as living lab environment for autonomous vehicles, drones and robotics.
Learning: Leverage universities; the ultimate agents of urban regeneration
3. A new Olympic Village
Where the 1928 Olympics took place, an exciting mixed-use innovation district is now emerging around Nike’s EMEA Headquarters. With development strategy and process management, Blossity is supporting Nike in this ambitious public-private partnership.
Activated by a new train station, this monotonous business park will transform into a transit oriented urban campus with 24/7 buzz. Various residential typologies, innovation labs, an action sports hall, swimming pool, and international school will merge in an urban landscape where physical activity is the norm. This is how hundred years after the Olympic Games, Hilversum turns into the Dutch Capital of Sport & Innovation.
Learning: Be a trusted and authentic community catalyst. That’s where GenZ wants to work
4. Want to work for Blackstone? Move to Miami
Silicon Valley is heading to Austin, Boulder, and now Miami. Blackstone’s new Tech HQ will be based in a 41,000-square-foot space in downtown Miami within a mixed-use project that includes a Brightline passenger rail station. Last month, The Related Group filed plans for an office and residential tower just west of the Brightline station, a signal that developers expect proximity to mass transit will be attractive to businesses making moves to the area.
Learning: Embrace the Rise of the Rest
5. Walmart x Common coliving
I’ve written before about how Walmart is betting on a green, car-free campus in Betonville. Now a layer of hybrid living is projected on top of that, with the New York-based #coliving group Common announced last week that it is targeting fast-growing Bentonville as one of five U.S. cities to design and build a unique live-work development. “I am bullish on cities and believe most will choose to live near others, favoring amenities, culture, and socialization,” said Brad Hargreaves, the founder and CEO of Common.
Learning: Factor in flexible housing for discerning talent
The rise of the knowledge economy will keep drawing younger talent into cities. That city offers a higher pay, extensive opportunities for professional development and deeper pools of potential dates.
Economic development will even more shift to talent attraction. This is where I see mixed-use campus development become paramount, zooming out from the traditional notion of workplace into a scale of urbanism. Forward-looking brands take location more seriously than ever, making corporate urbanism and community engagement a centerpiece of their overall brand strategy.