WPB Isn’t Worried About Downtown Office Space

The following is an excerpt from an article originally published in The Palm Beach Post by Alexandra Clough. VIEW LINK | VIEW PDF

The city of West Palm Beach is not worried about the future of office space in the city’s downtown. This is despite a glut of new space about to hit the market, an unsightly half-finished office complex and a lingering pandemic that has kept most workers at home for months.

Lannis Waters, The Palm Beach Post

In West Palm Beach, only about 20% of workers are coming in to the office, brokers said. Other workers are coming in on staggered days so as not to crowd interior spaces and risk spreading the airborne COVID-19 virus.

As a result, a number of companies are paying for leased space that is mostly empty, prompting questions about the future of office space. Some national companies, such as Twitter, have told employees they can work from home forever.

But West Palm Beach officials remain upbeat that people will return to the office, and the market will return.

“Though there is current uncertainty due to the upcoming presidential election and COVID-19, all indications suggest the office market will rebound,” said Kathleen Walter, a city spokeswoman.

Last December, prior to the pandemic, commercial real estate brokers warned there was a sizable shadow market of empty space downtown.

Neil Merin, chairman of NAI/Merin Hunter Codman, said that with two new office towers under construction, the amount of vacant space would rise to 35% from about 17%. Other brokers said leasing activity was very slow, and no large tenants were even making inquiries about office space.

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The Future of Office Space

The following article was published in the Fall 2020 Palm Beach County Quarterly Economic Development Magazine from the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.

Palm Beach County’s office market may wind up benefiting from the changing national work-from-anywhere landscape. “I believe our market will be more attractive to companies from the crowded Northeast seeking to relocate here,” said Jeffrey M. Kelly, executive vice president, CBRE in Boca Raton. “But in the short-term, availabilities will increase. I believe this is a hiccup and am optimistic that we will recover.”

Neil Merin, Chairman, NAI/Merin Hunter Codman in West Palm Beach, says the work-from-home trend due to the COVID-19 health threat has shown that people don’t have to be in a large office to stay connected. “Owners and executives with small offices in Palm Beach County are finding they can spend more time here,” Merin said. “That portends more movement away from the big Northeast cities to offices here.”

Meanwhile, the need for social distancing at work may change the size and configuration of office spaces, added Merin. While some businesses may downsize and try to sublet their current space, others will retain their current footprints, even if there are fewer employees on the premises at any one time.

“There will be lower demand for co-working spaces until the pandemic has receded,” Merin said.

Another trend will be the need to provide healthy office workspaces, including stepped-up sanitation and ventilation systems. “When employees are spending eight or 10 hours a day in an office, they want to feel safe,” he added. Common areas like kitchens and lounges may also need to be reconfigured for employees taking a break during the day.

Jeff Kelly expects a lower employee headcount in office spaces to drive down the need for on-site parking. “That’s a positive because land in Palm Beach County is so valuable,” he said. “It may lead to some creative uses of that extra space.”

As for new construction, Jeff Kelly said some buildings under construction, like 360 Rosemary in West Palm Beach, are likely to be completed on schedule, while others may be delayed until preleasing commitments support the financial investment. “Fortunately, Palm Beach County is not a big office market, and a few major leases could move the vacancy rate downward significantly.”

VIEW THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE | VIEW THE FULL FALL 2020 ISSUE

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PRESS RELEASE: Lockdowns Have Not Locked Up Commercial Real Estate Transactions

— Two of NAI/Merin Hunter Codman’s commercial real estate experts discuss what it takes to close transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic. —

West Palm Beach, Fla. – NAI/Merin Hunter Codman, Palm Beach County’s leading commercial real estate firm, acknowledges that commercial real estate transaction activity has slowed throughout the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic but the firm notes that it has not been locked down entirely. Two of the firm’s seasoned veteran brokers, retail expert Bruce Corn and office market specialist Adam Starr, have successfully completed nearly $10,000,000 in lease and sale transactions while most of South Florida’s shelter-in-place mandates remain in place. The secret to their success has been what they have always done… servicing their long-time clients with updated market intelligence and creative deal making options.

Bruce Corn

Long-time office veteran Adam Starr and retail expert Bruce Corn represent two different commercial real estate market sectors, but they have two things in common – expertise in navigating positive and negative market cycles, as well as long-term, trusted client relationships.

Local office market expert, Adam Starr, who joined NAI/Merin Hunter Codman in January 2020, just six weeks prior to the pandemic shutdown, has facilitated transactions in excess of $5.4 million on behalf of his clients, completing lease transactions in excess of $4.5 million and one building sale in Jacksonville, on behalf of a long-time local client, for $910,000, completed just last week.

Adam Starr

Bruce Corn, who has led NAI/Merin Hunter Codman’s retail services for nearly 30 years, has completed both sales and lease transactions totaling over $5.5 million on behalf of his clients.

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MHC Listed as #2 Property Management Firm in Palm Beach County

The South Florida Business Journal released their 2020 Top List of South Florida Commercial Property Management Firms ranked by square foot managed.

We’re proud to be listed as the #2 firm within Palm Beach County and wish a hearty congrats to all other firms listed!

View List as PDF

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Good property management ensures happy tenants and owners while maintaining the value of real estate assets. We pride ourselves on our reputation of well-maintained and managed office, industrial, retail and corporate facilities.

How can we help you? NAI/Merin Hunter Codman is one of South Florida’s leading commercial real estate firms and the largest in Palm Beach County. We have over three decades of experience advising clients on strategic acquisitions and dispositions and providing landlord representation, tenant representation, property management, and construction management services. The firm has expertise in all commercial property sectors including office, retail, industrial, multifamily, hotels, and land. To learn more about our services click here.

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How has COVID-19 affected local, medically zoned commercial real estate?

As featured in Palm Beach County Medical Society

Lesley Sheinberg, NAI/Merin Hunter Codman medical commercial real estate specialist discusses current trends in the local medical real estate market.

It’s no secret that the effects of COVID-19’s social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates have resulted in challenges for the commercial real estate market locally and beyond. One would think that medical properties would thrive during a health-related crisis. However, the real estate market is no more resilient than other sectors, and despite their high demand, not even medical properties are immune.

South Florida, a cited COVID-19 hot spot, put local stay-at-home and social distancing orders in place earlier and longer than other areas of Florida. The March 20, 2020 Executive Order prohibiting medical professionals from performing “unnecessary, non-urgent or non-emergency procedures or surgery” are just now being lifted. These orders resulted in patients refraining from visiting their local doctors for normal basic services as well as non-urgent matters. Simultaneously, urgent care and hospital providers themselves faced sharp increases in costs. The American Hospital Association’s recent report, Hospitals and Health Systems Face Unprecedented Financial Pressures Due to COVID-19, cited, “a total four-month financial impact of $202.6 billion in losses for America’s hospitals and health systems, or an average of $50.7 billion per month”.

As we all wait and hope for a return to normal and improving economic conditions, those making real estate decisions need to be cognizant of the near-term impacts on the medical commercial real estate market. These include:

  1. A large number of leasing, acquisition and dispositions being put on hold;
  2. Fewer previously planned developments being likely to break ground;
  3. Fewer healthcare firm mergers and acquisitions are likely to take place.

On a positive note, healthcare should be one of the few economic sectors to accelerate staffing, and there may be increased funding available for research, facilities/equipment, and preparedness planning.

If your practice is at a point where you want to consider long term growth or resizing, this may be a prime time to:

a. Negotiate an advantageous lease rate for a longer term with better build-out concessions to accommodate square footage needs.
b. Consider purchasing a property at a lower price point than prior to the pandemic, as many second quarter 2020 deals have fallen through or are on hold.

If your practice is struggling, my best piece of advice is to have an open and honest line of communication with your current landlord. Landlords are generally taking a realistic approach with clients that they believe will be assets to their properties over the long term. As a medical real estate specialist, I am happy to counsel my clients regarding their options including a lease review, and an identification of potential opportunities to expand, contract, trade-up, acquire or dispose of commercial real estate. Working with my colleagues at NAI/Merin Hunter Codman, we can utilize our expertise to assist tenants and landlords as they work through today’s challenges. Whether your question is big or small, don’t hesitate to reach out for a free consultation.

To reach Lesley Sheinberg please call 561-254-7810 or 561-471-8000.

CLICK HERE to view the full PDF Release | CLICK HERE to view the printed article.

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The Future of Office Space

Click here to view the article and video, originally published by WPBF.

More and more people are working from home because of the pandemic and that means fewer people are renting office space.

Real estate experts admit the future of the business is uncertain.

“The biggest problem in leasing office space right now is people’s inability to make a decision, because we just don’t know what the future looks like,” Neil Merin, Chairman NAI/Merin Hunter Codman.

Some in the industry say they see opportunities.

“I’d love to be a part of an office building that converted to medical,” Rebecca Giacobba, Team Leader Illustrated Properties, GIA Realty, said. “I’d love to be a part of a big group from New York that wants to get out of the city to invest in Palm Beach County.”

Giacobba said, nationally, rental rates are holding at about 88%.

Merin believes we will see people telecommuting and partially working in an office.

“Working from home has not been convenient for everybody, but right now one of the biggest problems with bringing the workforce back, forget about COVID, is kids,” Merin said. “Because kids are out of school.”

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