How Developers Are Adapting to Residents' New Live-Work-Play Lifestyles

June 2, 2017

As the lines between home and work fade with opportunities of remote work and entrepreneurial ventures, residents want a community where they can do it all.


Developer Christopher Brown hardly ever uses his home office anymore. The dedicated office space in his Manhattan home is the first place his two kids want to be, especially when he’s there. So now, he rents shared office space four blocks from home and retreats there when he wants to knock out e-mails or review the pro rata numbers on his latest development deals.

“It’s great, it’s close by, and I can get my work done,” says Brown, who commutes between New York City and Coral Gables, Fla., where he’s co-developing, along with Heidi Eckes-Chantré and Kim Tabet, Giralda Place, a 33-unit condominium and mixed-use retail project that will also house 100,000 square feet of Class A office space.


As such, Brown is both a practitioner and a purveyor of today’s live–work trend, which doesn’t necessarily just encompass people working from home, but also people living and working within a relatively small geographic area.


“The reality of working these days is that, because of the technology, you can do it from anywhere, and people are actually doing just that,” Browns says. “That holds for all demographics, age 18 to 85, whoever is still working.”


Indeed, according to Gallup, 43% of Americans spent at least some time working remotely last year, a four percentage point increase from 2012. And where those workers live today isn’t defined as much by the location of a traditional office as it is a home that’s in proximity to a shared or co-work space, whether rented or not, where professionals can sit heads down and be “alone together” to get work done.


It’s the type of lifestyle at least some of the buyers at Giralda Place are looking for. There, Brown recently spoke with a buyer who wanted to downsize from his large, single-family home in Coral Gables to the more carefree, condominium lifestyle. “Right after he asked about our condominiums, he said he had about 60 employees and wanted to know if we had space for them in our commercial tower as well,” Brown says. “He’s the epitome of what we’re seeing today—someone who wants to downsize from his royal lifestyle, forget the car, and walk down the block to his office. We are actively pursuing tenants right now to do shared office space, because that’s the trend that’s really transforming everything.”


The idea of a live–work lifestyle is nothing new. In fact, it was the norm in America before the advent of the automobile. But developers of both for-sale and rental homes say that trend is now reversing itself at breakneck speed, as technology has altered the concept of work as a place and demographics have changed residents’ lifestyle demands. These shifts, they say, are rapidly transforming the development landscape—and the strategy developers apply to their business—in ways that would have been anathema just 10 or 15 years ago.


“It’s affecting everyone, not just in the office real estate market, but in the residential investment and development industry, as well,” says Russell Tepper, senior managing director for Dallas-based Mill Creek Residential, which has developed 25,000 apartments in more than 90 communities since 2011. “The reality is, people no longer work from 9 to 5, in an office, with a mandated, hourlong lunch break where they punch a time card. That hasn’t existed in our economy for a long time, and as a result, people are living and working differently.”


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