By Alexandra Pacurar
Boston is turning into the city of tomorrow, with real estate projects built to suit the city’s status as an innovation hub. In addition to the new wave of development, investment is also solid due to diverse asset types with solid rent growth, as illustrated by General Electric’s decision to move its headquarters to Boston’s Seaport District. This is according to Andy Hoar, president & co-managing partner of CBRE/New England, who underlined the main trends and challenges in this northeastern market in an interview with Commercial Property Executive.
CPE: Which property types do you think are most attractive at this point in the cycle and why?
Andy Hoar: Last-mile industrial is performing really well. The “Amazon Effect” is driving the market to improve access to the end user. Investment activity remains extremely strong. Well-located core assets, brick-and-beam and Class B office are performing very well and reflecting solid rent growth. Pent-up demand continues for multifamily in and outside of Route 128/Interstate 95.
CPE: How do you see the office market right now?
Hoar: From an office and life science perspective, our clusters of excellence show continued strength—the Seaport/Innovation District (home of GE), Fenway, Longwood Medical Area, the “Miracle Mile” that is Kendall Square plus the core markets in the suburbs. Urban migration continues to be a significant theme with much activity coming from the tech sector both inside and outside of Massachusetts.
It continues to be a good time to invest in the hottest growth areas in Greater Boston. Those submarkets will outperform secondary locations where amenities, services and access to public transportation have been slower to develop.
CPE: What are some current challenges in the industry?
Hoar: Escalating construction costs are certainly impacting the market both in terms of overall development costs, but also interior tenant improvements. With a major casino being built and several commercial and residential projects underway, there is no immediate end in sight. The result has been a dampening of some tenant/relocation activity. Low income and moderate workforce housing also continues to be an issue.
CPE: What should we expect from the capital markets in relation to the real estate industry?
Hoar: Capital markets activity in the commercial sector has slowed in the past nine to 12 months. In part, this is due to the high volume of activity in the previous 24 months. Watch out for the impact on cap rates as the Federal Reserve continues to move forward with interest rate moves this year.
CPE: Boston has been named one of the top smart cities in the U.S. How does this influence real estate?
Hoar: Boston is one of the top markets in the country and this relates to our Millennial workforce. In Greater Boston alone there are over 55 colleges and universities with over 400,000 students. As a result, we have a built-in supply of well-educated labor that provides an invaluable resource to the various industries in and around Boston.
There is a direct correlation between our position in the national market from a labor perspective and the urban migration trend impacting the Commonwealth. GE is a great example of this trend and post GE, there are several other major corporations that are considering Boston for potentially significant relocations.
Image courtesy of CBRE