Kimmerle Group’s George J. Kimmerle and Paul S. Newman Served as Panelists for Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal’s 2017 NJ Office Summit
Architecture Design Firm’s Principals Provided Keen Insight on Office Market Trends and Tenant Needs
Founder/President George J. Kimmerle, (AIA, PP, NCARB) and Partner Paul S. Newman (AID, CID) of Kimmerle Group (KG), a Harding-based multifaceted architectural/design organization with offices in the Chelsea district of NY, dedicated time as panelists at Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal’s (MAREJ) Third Annual New Jersey 2017 Office Summit. The symposium, recently held at the APA Hotel Woodbridge, 120 Wood Avenue South, Iselin, NJ, featured four panels that spotlighted development, leasing and investment trends in the office market sector.
Market Update: An Evaluation of the Office Market and What Tenants Require Today
Kimmerle participated in the initial panel moderated by Jeremy E. Neuer/SVP of CBRE. Other speakers included: Robert Rudin/VP of Cushman & Wakefield; Benjamin Korman/Chairman and CEO of Lotus Equities/C&K Properties; and Steve Nislick/CFO of Hugo Neu. The roundtable examined vacancy rates on NJ’s Gold Coast, Newark and suburban office markets; factors driving the demand; current tenant requirements that brokers should be cognizant of; and a forecast of the office market in the next two years.
“Landlords and developers of NJ office buildings recognize the changing styles of workers and are incorporating that knowledge to accommodate tenants looking for contemporary work environments,” said Kimmerle.
The panel analyzed the shift in lifestyle preference returning to the amenities of urban living by rebranding and repositioning properties. Kimmerle provided a client example of a Morristown-based company that took the corporate headquarters down to the steel in a multi-million dollar endeavor. The firm is restructuring their space and featuring on-site eateries and additional amenities to accommodate non-traditional employee schedules.
An enlightening discussion transpired regarding mass transit accessibility for suburban and inner ring communities as well as downtown core locations. According to Kimmerle, mass transportation remains a challenge for the suburban market and for owners who want to attract prospective employees living in urban areas.
“Planners at the Rutgers Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy have been advocating for transit hub projects for over 35 years,” explained Kimmerle.
“The issues surrounding development and redevelopment in suburban communities and office parks are complex. Yet one size does not fit all. In some instances the factors may be condemnation and land assemblage; in others transit access; whereas other considerations are points related to basic infrastructure. Our experience and role in this area is vital - we know first-hand that developers and property owners in all-use categories are looking to reinvent their sites,” said Kimmerle.
He noted from: “office to multifamily, industrial to high tech and commercial, and the overall repositioning of workplace product to address contemporary standards for millennial employees and new lifestyles is certainly all part and parcel of this effort.” These changes include various lifestyle-based transitions such as Uber apps and other technology alterations that will determine how urban and suburban infrastructure is reenvisioned.”
Value of Tenant Improvements in Securing New Leases and Tenant Retention
Paul Newman sat on the third panel moderated by Jan Alan Lewis/Member of Cole Schotz P.C. and featured speakers Tiffany Rolfing/Energy Efficiency Account Manager of ICF International and Lee Winter/Principal of WRE Consulting. The panel juxtaposed the challenges of balancing landlord and tenant needs.
“We represent both tenants and landlords,” explained Newman. “Tenants possess strong capital and by providing advice to both parties, realistic expectations are established as to what is reasonable and what is far-reaching. The take-away are laser-focused investments and approaches that ensure long-term occupancy as well as flexibility for other businesses in need of space.” According to Newman, an initial design for a new tenant spurs prospective tenants because there is something tangible to view in a newly reconstructed space.
Panelists agreed that upscale, state-of-the art amenities are vital to new constructions and reconfigured office space. “Three things in order of significance are key in new design projects: a conference center, a café featuring cooked food and a fitness center,” noted Newman. “Wellness amenities such as walking trails and pet-friendly environments reign supreme.”
Healthy buildings that capitalize on NJ economic incentives and eco-consciousness among tenants and owners were stressed in office market development. “Our client Johnson & Johnson possesses this ethos with strong recycling/renewable programs,” explained Newman. He stressed the need for sustainable incentives to be done in advance when developing/renovating office space. If architects and engineers work synergistically, he believes the aforementioned goal can be achieved.
The roundtable discussion closed with each industry professional forecasting that forward-thinking designs and financial strategies will create a robust office market in the months to come.
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