The financial industry in the not-so-distant past drove much of the real estate development in New York City but the information technology and media industries are becoming more active players, said Adam B. Frazier, development manager at Boston Properties. On the tech front, Facebook and Google have each announced NYC expansion plans and Twitter opened its first office in the city last fall. Publishing giant Conde Naste, the anchor tenant for 1 World Trade Center accounting for 1.05 million sq ft of space in the tower, will reportedly soon sign on for an additional 133,000 sq ft, according to a New York Post story yesterday.
“The tech and media world is growing tremendously [in NYC] and will continue to do so this year,” said Frazier, one of five panelists who spoke on trends for the A/E/C industries, at the New York chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services Principals’ Breakfast meeting held in Midtown earlier today. Frazier noted the Cornell University/Technion-Israel Institute of Technology partnership, which won the bid to build a $2-billion-plus applied sciences campus on Roosevelt Island, as an indication of the city’s commitment to further grow its tech presence in both infrastructure and jobs.
While many economists paint a “rather bleak” 2012 picture for the city and “a lot of that is based on the European situation,” the city added 50,000 jobs in 2011, about twice as many as in the prior year, says Barbara Byrne Denham, chief economist at real estate investment services firm Eastern Consolidated. “I am optimistic,” she said, for several reasons including the tech industry’s push into New York. “It will take a few years before we see [major] job growth and it will start in the academic sector,” she added.
The architecture sector was among the first to downsize when the recession started, “but we are seeing our architectural clients beginning to hire,” said Patricia Harris, managing partner at construction law firm Zetlin & De Chiara. Education, health care and hospitality industries are also “starting to come back,” she said. “It’s important to note who is getting the jobs and what types of firms,” Harris said. Firms are trending toward specializations, such as sustainable design or energy usage, and they must be open to collaboration to get work, she said. “You must go in [to negotiations] with that mindset,” she added.
In another trend, corporate space tenants are trying to do more with less. “Of the transactions completed in the last two years, nine times out of ten the renewal or relocation took place in a smaller footprint,” said Peter Buckey, vice president of commercial real estate firm Cassidy Turley.
Mobile computing via smartphones and other hand-held devices is also proliferating throughout the industry, said Janice Tuchman, editor-in-chief of Engineering News-Record, the national sister publication of ENR New York. She noted that even at the SMPS meeting, attendees were encouraged to send the panel questions using the yorn.com site on their smartphones.
Panelists listed a slew of other major trends expected to continue this year including a drive toward sustainability and disaster resiliency in structures, as well as growth of alternative energy systems across the Northeast.