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Guest Opinion: Demand for Triangle real estate is changing

July 6, 2018 | Triangle Business Journal
Lee Roberts

Triangle residents have grown accustomed to the sight of cranes, street closures and construction vehicles. Even a casual observer can see that new office buildings, hotels and apartments are going up everywhere, in established areas and emerging ones alike. But what’s not as obvious is the way this real estate is being used is fundamentally changing.

Office tenants are demanding more flexibility and exploring new locations. Microbreweries now share space with building contractors in old warehouses. Millennials are seeking different experiences, whether at work or when traveling.

While large and established office tenants used to occupy the most expensive space in the most traditional locations, today those tenants often seek more. They want to attract and retain young employees, which means “walkability,” amenities and interesting places to go for lunch or a beer after work.

Durham’s American Tobacco project was one of the first national examples of this trend, with a former manufacturing facility now housing endowment managers and private equity firms. Raleigh’s Warehouse District, traditionally home to art galleries, night clubs and vacant industrial buildings, has a new Class A office building called The Dillon.

Co-working represents another major change. Early targets were local entrepreneurs who wanted an inexpensive alternative to their kitchen tables. These retrofitted spaces offer food trucks, coffee and local microbreweries to encourage synergy and socializing. Some, like HQ in Raleigh, The Frontier in Research Triangle Park and American Underground in Durham also make additional expertise and programming available to their tenants. The concept has been so successful it’s gone corporate.

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