Industry Leaders Discuss Office Market Pressures, Challenges, Opportunities

Aerial Point of View of  Downtown Nashville, Tennessee

The ramifications of declining values for certain office properties were the focus of several national media interviews this week with industry leaders. The pressures, challenges, and opportunities of the current office market are the consequence of remote work and a post-pandemic shift in the use of the built environment—realities that are leading city officials to assess lower tax revenue assessments and consider policy changes to incentivize commercial-to-residential conversions, cutbacks to local services, or raising taxes. (New York Times, March 14)

Office Conversions

•	Roundtable Chairman Emeritus Bill Rudin (Co-Chairman and CEO, Rudin Management Co.)
  • The New York Times reported this week on the options facing municipal officials as nearly $3 trillion of outstanding commercial real estate debt is coming due by 2028 while tax revenue from commercial properties drops. Refinancing certain office assets at reduced values remains difficult during a period of high interest rates and heightened regulatory concern about regional banks’ office loan concentrations. (Trepp, Dec. 21, 2023 and Roundtable Weekly, March 8)
  • Rudin offered examples in New York City of successful office reuse. He also emphasized how other cities need to convert obsolete office buildings to residential use by changing multiple dwelling laws, zoning statutes, and a providing a robust tax abatement to incentivize capital into the marketplace for conversions.  
  • It’s a public-private partnership. The capital will come to those projects with the right structure that start creating housing on all levels: affordable, workforce, market rate,” Rudin said.

Evolving Opportunities

Real Estate Roundtable Member Hessam Nadji (President and CEO, Marcus & Millichap)
  • Roundtable Member Hessam Nadji (President and CEO, Marcus & Millichap) spoke with CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange today about the bifurcated office market. He added that investors are exploring opportunities in shopping centers and high-quality offices in suburban markets.
  • “(We are) hearing from various institutional investors that it’s the time to buy. Prices have adjusted. There’s record capital on the sidelines. And when you combine those two with confidence that the economy is going to hold up pretty well, you’re going to see capital come back,” Nadji said.
  • Blackstone President and Chief Operating Officer Jon Gray discussed investor opportunities in commercial real estate yesterday with Bloomberg Television.
  • “As investors, sometimes, one of the risks is that you miss it by being overly cautious and I think now is probably a good time before rates come down. There are definitely assets that were financed in a different era, particularly in commercial real estate because there has been a more profound impact in the office sector—and that will create opportunities,” Gray said.

On the public buildings front, the Biden administration’s 2025 budget plan proposes $425 million for the General Services Administration to reduce the federal footprint and long-term costs through a new “optimization program.” (Federal News Network, March 11)

#  #  #