Conversions, infrastructure and ethical behaviour!

Lots of discussion and conversations this week. Office versus remote debate is fascinating to watch particularly when you look at who is backing each corner. This week Convene went remote first. A provider of working space went remote first. It says it all doesn’t it really – that is truly walking the walk (and not just talking the talk because it’s self serving). But in other news…. 

Have you ever fancied living in what used to be a car park? Well John Lewis has announced plans to convert car parking spaces into 10,000 homes – moving from retail to residential landlord. Following a strategic review of the business which will result in a number of stores closing they have also identified opportunities to convert, build on top of and build next to other real estate assets to maximise value. In the current world the question will be is the location right? They suggest building next to distribution centres. Is this a good location? Would you want to have a huge distribution centre overshadowing your back garden? In a world where there is a housing shortage maybe it would be suitable for some. Though I did learn that the John Lewis Partnership owns large parts of Leckford so maybe the skills are already there to take this forward. It is positive to see that they are going to seek to charge fair rents and make the portfolio beneficial to society in terms of affordability. Time will tell if they are successful. 

Putting purpose ahead of profits. A simple sentence but corporate responsibility and “doing the right thing” now more than ever is key for business. In a more social world, those who don’t demonstrate the right ethical behaviours quickly have a light shone on them. An interesting read by PropertyShe on Real Estate B Corps. Having a certification allows people to identify now with a brand BUT that brand still needs to live up to the standards.

In development news it’s interesting to watch this B1M video – The Story Behind China’s 600-Metre Unfinished Skyscraper – imagine having a topped out tower looming over a city with no real identification of the next steps. A waste to knock down but no real interest in taking forward. Started 13 years ago and destined to be a tall building in history. 6 years since the last work was performed it’s like a tombstone of the built environment. The scheme was suppose to have a Wine Museum. I mean that sounds cool!

In infrastructure news, Brisbane sees massive infrastructure push ahead of unopposed Olympic bid. The greenlight is going strong for new projects but it makes you wonder would they have occurred if not for the Olympics? Does it really need something so large to trigger the investment? Probably not but probably yes for the scale they are looking at. Running unopposed for 2032 gives 9 years to bring forward the investment into the Australian city. Part of the investment is a bridge. Not just any bridge as explained in the video. There are multiple events around the world which drive investment – cities of culture, festivals- whether music or film, olympics and other sporting events – having the mentality of regular investment in infrastructure is a great way to boost an economy. 

And to end this EG Podcast with Damian Wild discusses reopening strategies. The general takeaway still for me is choice. Let people decide what works best for them – not saying work from home and not saying work from the office – work where works best, work from anywhere! Our job, our role, our work should be known to us – we know where it works best. From a landlord perspective there is a way to encourage people back to the office in the city. The key is creating a destination. Anything less, well won’t cut the mustard! 

Taking some time off so more thoughts and reflections will return in August. Enjoy a Summer break all

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