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A common question in the commercial real estate industry is, “What’s trending?” Truth be told, it’s a difficult question to answer because each region or market has its own micro-trends that emerge—these may or may not counter overall national trends. But when it comes to general industry awareness, we do our best to stay on top of what experts are saying.

In the past, we have shared findings from a yearly report that’s released by PWC and the Urban Land Institute. This document gives a 30,000-foot view of what’s happening in retail, office, hotel, and industrial real estate throughout the country.

It’s important to note when viewing the information that trends typically take a longer time to reach smaller markets. On average, it could take anywhere from 5-7 years. This is crucial to remember as we consider Huntsville.

However, watching what’s going on nationally is exciting because we see continued growth. The needs of office users may be changing, but developers are rising to the occasion and creating stunning new spaces that cultivate creativity. Many online-only retailers are adding brick-and-mortar components to their business. Finally, hotels are moving toward more technology to make guest experiences more streamlined and convenient.


If you haven’t heard the term “hipsturbia” before, you’re not alone. It’s a term being assigned to suburbs that are now taking steps to create their own live/work/play districts.

Millennials are transitioning into the next phase of life, becoming parents, and settling down in suburbs. But they aren’t yet ready to give up the ease and walkability that are offered in more urban areas. 24-hour downtowns have created a “replicable model” that is becoming more popular in suburbs.

What’s great about hipsturbias? They’re enticing because they offer greater affordability, the comfort of suburban life with single-family homes, and urban amenities like dining, shopping, and entertainment. It’s essentially the best of both worlds.

Being able to walk from work to your suburban home with a picket fence while stopping for dinner on the way is the dream, and cool suburban communities are trying to transform.

People-Focused Workplaces

In last week’s blog, we gave an overview of how office culture has changed since the 1950s, and it continues to evolve yearly. Employers constantly have to think about what they can do to make the work environment somewhere “people want to be.”

According to Emerging Trends and a Gensler’s U.S. Workplace Survey, employees are spending 45 percent of the week working on solo tasks in private spaces and almost the same amount of time in collaborative environments. Of course, this varies from office to office. This means companies are looking for a balance within spaces that allows for more focused work as well as collaboration and relaxation.

People are seeking more office spaces with on-demand private rooms that can be used when needed. Survey after survey says that employees are having their best and most creative ideas when given options for various types of spaces.

Attracting Office Talent With Amenities

Employers are seeing positive outcomes by adding amenities when it comes to the war of attracting the best talent.

What are they looking for? Workers expect convenience to help them work smarter, faster, and more comfortably. Some assume this means adding more recreation rooms, activities, and games to the office. But a U.S. Workplace Survey in 2019 found that employees value ways to optimize their work, rather than escape it.

This means access to daycares, dog grooming, last-minute shopping, restaurants, coffee shops, on-site dry cleaning, fitness centers, and quiet rooms. In a world where we are expected to multitask like a pro, it’s no wonder these are the most sought-after amenities.

On a side note, workers are also showing a growing focus on finding environments where they share missions, values, and purposes with their colleagues. Community is a big trend moving forward.

Competitive Omni-Channel Retail

Over the past several years, retailers have taken heed of the industry’s advice to incorporate omni-channel solutions to their business plans. This means brick-and-mortar concepts are marketing in new ways and making their presence known online, by email, on apps, on social media, and by mobile in addition to physical stores. Shopping is becoming an experience that reaches across all channels to increase brand awareness and offer convenience to shoppers.

Brands that have previously lived exclusively online are quickly adding physical components to their business. This can come in the form of pop-up shops for a limited time or committing to actual locations in order to further build their business. Companies like Birchbox, BarkBox, and Rent The Runway are just a few that have added an in-store experience. And it doesn’t seem like this trend is going anywhere soon.

Another thing to consider when it comes to technology is the addition of big data used to drive retail business decisions. Owners can collect information on visitor behavior, purchases, and more in order to create a better experience.

Food & Beverage and Fitness Are Strong

Emerging Trends states that Baby Boomers are slowly spending less on goods and “directing more purchases toward medical needs, dining, and experiences”. Millennials are also looking for less “stuff” and seeking more experiences as well.

This is leading to growth in experiential and entertainment uses at developments. Food and beverage is doing well and there has “been a noticeable increase in food uses across retail venues.” There’s also a shift toward healthier and more convenient food options as an alternative to fast food.

Health is becoming more of a community focus so concepts surrounding fitness, wellness, and health are all thriving. In fact, it was reported that the amount of space devoted to fitness centers, restaurants, and entertainment has doubled over the past 10 years.

Hotels Embracing Technology

An increasing number of hospitality and lodging brands are looking to artificial intelligence solutions to connect with guests.

A desire for convenience is at an all-time high, and solutions like customer-facing chatbots, digital room service ordering, and giving visitors several options for internet connections streamlines the hotel experience.

The more hotels can offer an array of options when it comes to the IoT (Internet of Things) the more on-trend they will be.

More Co-Working Spaces At Hotels

Yet another trend in the hotel sector is the increasing effort to create and offer co-working spaces.

More work is taking place remotely or online, and travelers need reserved spaces where they can work and conduct meetings. Some hotels are monetizing this trend by selling memberships or desks within the co-working rooms.

In addition, hotels are seeing increased value in having spaces available for events and larger meetings. Emerging Trends says that these “hotels benefit from this new layout by capitalizing on lower-revenue-generating space and creating a new group of loyal customers.”

What trends most interested you? Let us know in the comments.

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