Is Your Site Ready for the Return to Work?
April 14, 2021
The real estate industry fuels the annual American economic output by over $1 trillion — its impact on our overall economy is staggering and the effects of COVID-19 on commercial real estate has been profound. However, with the widespread availability of vaccines ramping up significantly, we are hoping to see a rebound of commercial real estate.
Now is the Time to Act
The way we interact with real estate is permanently changed due to new health measures that impact the desirability, marketability, and value of various real estate assets including retail, fast food/ restaurants, office developments, and warehouses. However, financially-sound investments in property upgrades and retrofits now may give your commercial property a competitive edge and attract tenants while preserving, or even improving, property value.
For both office and retail, minimal tenant and customer ingress and egress during this period of hybrid work from home/office affords opportunity to enact measures that monetize, functionalize, and beautify your property and get it work ready with minimal disruption. As engineers, Fisher Associates is well-versed in current technology and trends that assist owners and developers in prioritizing improvements to impact property value in the most profitable way. There’s no question that now, ahead of warmer months and higher occupancy, is the time to act if updates, renovations, or modifications are intended.
Improvements Now Will Realize Long-Term Benefits
Outdoor Improvements: The use of outdoor space as an extension of the office has refocused attention to developing amenity-rich exterior areas including creating covered and open spaces to accommodate:
- Dedicated, safe outdoor space for meetings
- Small gathering areas with both flexible and fixed seating
- Areas equipped with wi-fi and electrical
- Activity zones for food truck areas and eating areas
- Entertainment areas for movies, concerts, pop up events, trade shows, festivals, and markets
- Recreation zones for games, sports, and relaxation
- Exercise stations
Landscaping strategies beautify as well as provide natural distancing barriers. Developing new uses for these overlooked and often under-used areas may necessitate increased landscaping; require the addition of lighting and electrical; relocation or modification of utility and stormwater or require special variances to minimize congestion in high traffic areas. Landscape and hardscape improvements can include:
- Correcting ongoing maintenance issues with drainage improvements
- Replacing high maintenance landscaping with lower maintenance and indigenous plantings
- Installing shade-providing plantings
- Increasing pavement and sidewalk areas beyond the minimum requirements to reclaim space for:
- Eating areas
- Outside meeting spots
Parking: There is less demand for long-term parking due to new work strategies and the prior increase in ride sharing, a trend that is anticipated for the long-term. Depending upon the commercial and retail activities of your property, reimagining existing parking areas separate from the main pedestrian flow can create space for:
- Visitor pick up/drop off areas
- Designated delivery driver parking areas
- Designated ride sharing parking/pick-up
- Cell phone lots
- Online order pick-up
- Enhanced capacity drive-throughs
- Extension of wi-fi to create connectivity
- Revenue-creating space
Green & Technology Improvements: When implementing sustainable and technology improvements, owners should review demands and uses of their specific site. With the decreased demand in long-term parking, there are opportunities to repurpose pavement areas to address current trends and needs. Fisher can facilitate discussions with municipalities to allow conversion of existing pavement or reductions in pavement in new developments, which can realize savings in both construction and maintenance. Other measures that result in a safer, more user-friendly environment include:
- Electrical vehicle charging stations to accommodate current/future users.
- Conversion of unused pavement into green space.
- Smart lights and light poles as well as zoned lighting to enhance safety and save money.
- Cameras and monitoring equipment to enhance security.
- Incorporating power generation strategies in unused areas or on roof tops.
- Rain gardens and other pervious surfaces to absorb, filter, and reduce stormwater runoff.
How Fisher Associates Can Help
Fisher has experience helping developers and owners realize increased value and efficiency in their properties. Our firm assists with analyzing, creating, and executing plans to keep properties viable and highly competitive with strategically initiated upgrades. Efforts made now can demonstrate to tenants and potential tenants that an owner is investing actively in their property through:
- Enhanced safety and technology
- Increased amenities
- Resolution of maintenance issues
- Long-term post-COVID solutions
- Increased ability to work in flexible ways
Don’t miss this window to prepare for the new normal. Contact Fisher Associates’ Tom Lucey, Director of Land Development at TLucey@fisherassoc.com to evaluate your company’s external operations.