Friday, November 30, 2012
Regular readers of this weblog may have noticed that I link to Paul McMorrow stories from time to time. And for good reason - he's focusing on many of the issues near and dear to our hearts here at RTUF and he's always a good read. His recent piece in Boston Magazine is another example of why that's the case. It's called The Empty Quarter: Boston's Financial District is hollowing out. That's a big problem - but it may also be an opportunity. I encourage you to read the whole piece as I suspect that the shifts in demand for office space that McMorrow describes may also be happening elsewhere in the US. I think I have it right when I say that McMorrow seems to suggest that one part of the emerging solution is to convert much of what became Class B or Class A- office space when the new towers were built -- the smaller existing office buildings built principally in the late 19th and early 20th centuries -- to apartments and condominiums. Those buildings are better configured with smaller floor plates that allow conversion to residential much more easily. The other part seems to be to re-brand the boiler room-style lower floors of the major office towers of the 1970s and 1980s, which are structurally ill-suited to residential use, as tech/start-up office space. You may recall that this was the topic of a blog post last year in Blog Post No. 2011-14: Shedding light on the boiler room...has to be one of the keys to making it at least potentially rentable in today's economy. Paul believes such space is well-suited to the open office configurations preferred by those companies and approximate the layouts, if not the aesthetics, of the old industrial space in places like East Cambridge and Fort Point Channel that have been the preferred locations for those companies. How it all shakes out remains to be seen, but it does seem clear that change is coming even to the Financial District.