The post-coronavirus commercial real estate market


The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly changed the culture of the office. As businesses seek a new normal amid social restrictions, what they demand of their office space – in terms of location, amenities, and management structure – is changing.To learn how this change has affected the commercial real estate market and how companies have handled the transition to in-person work, Crain Content Studio turned to MaryAnne Gilmartin, CEO of Mack-Cali, developer of the Harborside commercial-residential district in Jersey City, New Jersey.

CRAIN’S: The pandemic has prompted many companies to turn to remote working arrangements. What about businesses that don’t work remotely – how have their needs and preferences changed when finding office space?

MARYANNE GILMARTIN: In uncertain times, business leaders look for ways to assert control and comfort their employees. It starts with health and safety, and at Mack-Cali, we have implemented the protocols and technologies necessary to make our office buildings safe during this pandemic. But it goes further. The workday experience really stretches from the time employees leave home in the morning until they return in the evening and includes travel, meals, meetings, get-togethers, and often managing a job or business. two races. Businesses now want an office ecosystem that can make it all as integrated, secure and comfortable as possible, ideally under one roof or on a campus. Unsurprisingly, we have seen a spike in interest in campus locations such as our Harborside complex in Jersey City.

CRAIN’S: Are companies that initially turned to telecommuting now returning to offices? What are the factors involved in this decision?

GILMARTIN: The only thing I constantly hear from our tenants is that they want to be back in the office because in most cases remote working just isn’t as efficient or productive. It is essential to instill in tenants that they can return safely. We cannot control how the government reacts to the latest events, but we can make sure that the air is filtered, that the capacity of the elevators is limited, that you can still have a good lunch, enjoy safe common areas. and clean inside and out. and hold face-to-face meetings.

CRAIN’S: Have the less densely populated New York area markets become more desirable as businesses consider potential future outbreaks of Covid-19?

GILMARTIN: Even before Covid-19, it was recognized that the New York area badly needed more business districts outside of Manhattan. More and more people want to live close to their workplace, they want access to open space during the work day, and they want a manageable density that is convenient without feeling overcrowded. Neighborhoods that have both of these elements and that do not compromise on convenience of travel will be very successful. These are Jersey City, downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City, places that are very accessible but where you can take a call on a waterfront plaza and your employees can get to work from walk from superb residential areas.


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