Philly's CRE Community Takes Stock of Changing Trends
March 9, 2012
By: Erika Morphy

Fittingly, on the day when the tech community awaits with baited breath the unveiling of Apple’s iPad3, panelists at RealShare Philadelphia kicked off the half-day event with talk of how technology--including the iPad--is changing commercial real estate in ways both pleasant (“I can give a virtual tour of any building from my iPad,” David Binswanger, president of Binswanger, said) and unpleasant (“showrooming,” where consumers visit a store for a demo and then buy the same product online, has become a fact of life for retailers, according to Lance Billingsley, director of anchor tenant leasing at Federal Realty Investment Trust).

Technology, in short, is changing many aspects of Philadelphia’s commercial real estate space, was the consensus opinion among experts at the one-day conference, which drew nearly 500 industry attendees. So, too, however, are other less apparent and less sexy developments as well.

Workforce trends, such as the ability to work remotely sometimes for days at a time is having a clear impact on space usage, said H. Hetherington Smith, senior vice president and branch manager for Studley. How much of an impact? It is a greater concern or issue for her clients than, say, the forthcoming lease accounting changes that will require companies to account for their leases on the balance sheets.

“The bigger trend is the need to maximize space,” says Smith. “The average cost per seat per year for a typical company is $10,000.” When that company actually figures out how often, or not, the space is used on a continual, day-to-day basis, the reaction is to scale back, she said. ...

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