What trends in architecture and design for commercial real estate will we see in 2016? Based on the opinion of experts in the field, here are some possibilities:
- The growing popularity of off-price stores with consumers will change the face of retail. That means more opportunities for developers and designers for stores, but they won’t necessarily be taking the form of the old model—e.g., department stores. In fact, the off-price apparel and footwear market reached almost $45 billion in revenue in 2015. That was an increase of 40 percent from 2009, according to RBC Capital Markets.
- Class B communities will increase in density because the renter market is growing. These communities offer many of the same amenities as class A rentals, but at a lower price. “Nationally, effective rents at B communities are estimated to be nearly 30 percent below those of A, making them especially appealing to millennials and other cost-conscious renters,” said David Schwartz, co-founder and CEO of Waterton.
- The market for indoor rock climbing facilities and spinning studios is growing. Other less conventional health and fitness establishments are growing, too, from ping-pong clubs to ballet studios. In urban areas, rock climbing clubs only need to have vertical space, so they fit in nicely. Limited land availability in cities mean these types of fitness choices work well. It’s also convenient that they are popular with millennials.
- There are now more than 69,000 LEED-certified projects around the world, so we can pretty well establish that the green movement is here to stay. In 2016, certification will be as much about people as the physical environment itself thanks to the WELL Building Standard. This is the first benchmarking program to evaluate properties based solely on their ability to promote the health and well-being of their occupants. A new 45-story office tower at 200 W. Madison is the first building in Illinois and second in the world to reach LEED Gold certification using the LEED Dynamic Plaque, which measures and displays building performance data in real time.
- The U.S. real estate market will continue to be boosted by foreign investors in 2016, thanks to the strong U.S. dollar and the devaluation of currency outside the U.S. Last month, investors from outside the U.S. had already spent $3.27 billion on Chicago-area real estate, well above the current full-year record of $2.18 billion set in 2013, according to Real Capital Analytics.
- Retail e-commerce sales rose to $87.5 billion in the third quarter of 2015, up 15.1 percent from third-quarter 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. That indicates online retailers are racing to secure urban warehouse space to fulfill a higher volume of orders in a shorter amount of time. Amazon Prime Now and other e-commerce players want to cut the time from order to delivery and this is one way of achieving it. The growth of e-commerce also impacts building design—the new 1000 South Clark residence in the South Loop will offer residents a modern package locker system.
- The Affordable Care Act will continue to change healthcare delivery as the market and providers adjust to the law. That includes where healthcare services are provided. This is good news for consumers, as urgent care facilities and other healthcare services will pop up in communities. “Convenience is key, especially when it comes to primary- and urgent-care services, as patients are looking for providers with clinics no more than a 5- or 10-minute drive away,” said John Wilson, president of HSA PrimeCare. “In many cases, these clinics are located on end caps or outlots to shopping centers to maximize accessibility for patients.”
- Adaptive reuse isn’t a new trend, but it clearly has taken hold. Developers are frequently choosing old buildings rather than building from the ground up. That’s especially the case in urban areas. As an example of the trend, VeriGreen Development is converting the former St. Charles Hospital in Aurora, Ill., into mixed-income senior housing. “Adapting and reusing an existing building with an already non-conforming status may also allow a larger building than current zoning permits, and often results in projects with more character than new construction,” says Pat FitzGerald, managing principal of FitzGerald Associates Architects. And in River Forest, HSA PrimeCare redeveloped a former furniture store into a modern medical office building for Loyola University Health Systemʼs Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.