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Parkwest News Brief 6

Another Trend Accelerated by COVID: Flexible Building Design

Smart building tools are also becoming more popular.

By Les Shaver | January 11, 2021

Even before COVID there was a trend to design more flexible buildings.

“Office is becoming like a hotel and retail is becoming like residential,” says JLL’s managing director of Property and Asset Management Randy Fink. “There is just the integration of the services across different product types of commercial real estate.”

Fink says commercial real estate is changing, even in the office sector. “It’s more and more of a consumer product,” Fink says. “That trend was there before COVID, but it has accelerated.”

Consumers are driving this evolution. “Decision makers are catering to that consumer mentality that is focused on wellness,” Fink says. “But there are a lot of other things included with that.”

One glaring example of this trend is the emergence of gyms in office buildings over the last decade. While new developers are producing buildings that encompass different services, the trend also extends to existing properties.

“I’m seeing existing owners looking at either retrofitting or forecasting things that are going to be different in the future,” Fink says. “It’s a way to prove that you have a healthy well space or common area in particular. Then also there is a built-in flexibility so that they can adjust to consumer demand, depending on how they evolve.”

Fink also sees technology playing an even greater role in the future with the trend of smart buildings and smart shopping centers accelerating. For instance, he thinks a technology where people can call an elevator and pick a floor from their smartphone is becoming more popular, especially with concerns about touching surfaces that have been amplified by COVID.