How Commercial Real Estate Is Going To Be Totally Different Going Forward

Commercial real estate has a tremendous influence on workers but is also reactionary to how people want to work, play and shop.

To get a sense of where the market is headed, CNBC asked a number of experts what they thought the future holds.

Some of the predictions are in line with what others have been saying for some time, while others go against the grain.

Here are some of the things they shared:

Shopping malls will be extinct

The world of the American shopping mall, Kenneth Riggs, President and CEO of Real Estate Research Corp., told CNBC “has been a Darwinian environment since the 1990s with the advent of big-box retail and the ‘Wal-Marting’ of the world-and it will stay that way.”

The rise of e-commerce is slowly chipping away at them and their disappearance is imminent. Along with that is an uncertain future for big-box retailers.

“As the J.C. Penney’s and Sears continue to lose market share to online retailing, you’re going to see more dead malls where the anchors go dark and ultimately are worth only the land they’re built on,” Tom Bohjalian, Executive Vice President at Cohen & Steers, which was the first investment company to specialize in listed real estate, told CNBC.

If all the tenants leave, malls might not be facing demolition. They will likely be repurposed.

The population’s commercial real estate needs are going to change

Although the millennial generation is the largest, the baby boomers still have a lot of clout. The coming 25 years will be the later quarter of many of their lives, meaning there will be a focus on medical-related facilities.

Riggs predicts a “shift back toward affordable, multigenerational households that will translate to increased multifamily residential, particularly in close proximity to mass transit.”

The death of the suburbs is going to end up being a farce

While the rise of urban centers is expected, many have predicted that interest in the suburbs will decline. This isn’t something everyone believes.

“The suburbs want to become more like urban centers. Millennials want to be there, but in an environment where they can combine their work-and-play lifestyles,” a former investment banker in real estate finance and now a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute, Steven Blank, told CNBC.

“Mixed-use projects take advantage of that,” he added. “We’ll see a lot of existing office complexes re-engineered to comprise transient components, rental, retail, office. One example right now is the Time Warner Center, albeit in Manhattan. One tower is the Mandarin Oriental hotel and office space; the second was built as the headquarters of Time Warner. And there’s a high-end shopping space, restaurants, condominiums. These are a wave of the future.”

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