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Are office buildings the 21st century equivalent of industrial revolution age mills?


Are office buildings the 21st century equivalent of industrial revolution age mills? What will be the future of office buildings? Office buildings are an innovation of the past hundred years and emerged largely in the aftermath of the industrial revolution at the beginning of the 20th century. Since then office buildings have grown in size and have adopted a unique style to accommodate the clerical work required for many organizations; however emerging digital technologies and mobile devices have allowed for the reorganization of the workplace and will further influence the demand for physical space as work environments transform. New lifestyle patterns are affecting demand for physical space and more importantly the location of the space. It is much easier for workers to connect virtually to their place of work and not rely on a physical desk at a specific locations. Obviously many organizations will need to retain an address as a depository for information and as a central meeting location, but space demand will be significantly less. Mill factories were an incarnation of the industrial age, and ran their course of operational utility as they were no longer suitable for the new economy which developed. Many mills stood dormant for a long period of time until as of recently it was in became an attractive to re-purpose into residential units. The structures proved to be solid since they at one point housed machinery requiring substantial support, and the interiors are fairly spacious, but many of the buildings were empty and the previous owner was willing to sell at low rates. Economically the conversion from mill to  housing has been beneficial as many are desired because they are located in urban areas.  This leads me to predict the future of office buildings, and because there will be a decrease in space demand there seems to be an opportunity to capture the value of converting office buildings into residential space. An attractive feature of buildings built primarily for offices are the large floor plates allowing for larger than average residential units. Zoning requirements would have to be evaluated before converting a buildings. Larger units will attract larger families and may trigger a community to require the integration of school into the buildings to accommodate the influx of children. Additional functions could be in a building that serves both residential and office space and maybe even synergies of circulation space by including cafes and gyms. The workforce of the future will value proximity and livability of their community which can be enhanced by mixed-use buildings. We believe the notion that offices are a distinct building , but the evolution of office space will change our perceptions and possibly redefine work. Real Estate developers value an office building by the cash flow and the security of leases, and the current model for valuation will need to be adapted to conform to the changing landscape. Perhaps office space aligns to become similar to the apartment market and and landlords provide space which is already fit-out, but a revolving door tenants will require more work to attract and be retained. Will we allow office buildings to become dormant as vacancies increase, or will we re-purpose the space to generate housing in urban centers and potentially create a more vibrant attractive community.


Predicting The Next Bubble

Are internet companies doomed for another bubble burst? Everyday lists another startup funded by venture capitalists in an effort to be the next Facebook, and after witnessing the over zealous investors pick up shares of LinkedIn there seems to be investment in just about every new idea, Law of Averages?. Theres a race to get into the venture capital game to fund these companies in hopes that they will succeed. Are the values that investors place on these service sector companies realistic? I don’t think they will be wildly successful. Could the pursuit of service sector technologies be the result of our education system, which has not encouraged students to study the sciences? There are too many startups whose cash flow models rely on a critical mass of society adopting the service. The baby boomers will probably not adopt the new innovations en masse; however new generations will adopt and embrace the change. Unfortunately the younger generations do not yet have disposable income or purchasing power to support many of the new companies. The bubble will burst, but the benefits will be a new breed of tools that will improve the efficiency of our society, and by improving the efficiency we will be able to pursue greater technological and self-fulfilling goals. The burst will leave in its wake a new form of the internet which will be dynamic and stream data. Pop!

Reduce HOA Fees?

How can condo associations reduce the effect of non-payment by unit owners? The housing crisis has created a problem for many condo associations in the country because of owners who are delinquent on condo fee payments. An owner who faces foreclosure and is in default of their mortgage is not inclined to pay their HOA fees which places a burden on other owners in a condo association. Is there a way to generate additional revenue for condo associations in financial trouble? Yes, typically they attach liens to the property and or raise fees for everyone else which just exacerbates issues and reduces property value. Perhaps the HOA could borrow from a bank, but this would still result in an increase in owner fees. Perhaps the condo association could  lease frontage to a developer  to build-out retail space. An existing building or development would be converted to mixed-use, and unit owners could specify the type of retail they want which creates a customer base for future tenants. This model would not work for all condo associations; however our society has increased a desire for urban walkable communities, and this concept has the potential to create a walkable neighborhood. Additionally condo associations do not have to be in financial trouble to utilize the service, but it could be a way to reduce HOA fees or fund capital expenditures and common area improvements.

See link for Wall Street Journal article discussing condo association hardships.

The Future Value of Florida Real Estate

Florida Real Estate will not be in the doldrums for long. Top Retirement Destinations . The Baby Boomers will need a place to retire, and if Florida had swelled with soo many retirees of the previous generation, I can only imagine the impact the Baby Boomers will have. I understand that Baby Boomers may not have as much money, but comparatively its still cheaper to live in Florida than to heat your home in the rust belt.