The effects of the pandemic are still being felt in all aspects of life, including at work, school and home. However, despite COVID-19, the Triangle area remains an attractive region for companies to expand, relocate, and/or set up headquarters due to its robust business and entrepreneurial community, low cost of living and high quality of life.
“During the pandemic we’ve seen an acceleration of trends that previously existed. The Triangle has a huge amount of amenities, it has a lot of intellectual capital from the universities which results in a high caliber talent pool, and it has a really great cost of living,” said Tiffany Barrier, a senior vice president with CBRE | Raleigh’s Retail Services team. “Looking ahead, the pendulum is swinging in our favor as the Triangle becomes a focal point for various retailers and restaurants as they grasp the existing and increasing opportunity in this market.”
Many companies and businesses in the Raleigh-Durham area, like others across the country, have had to adjust their operations given the persistence of the coronavirus. While stay-at-home orders put many things on hold for a few months earlier this year, the Triangle is holding its ground and making headway where it can.
Amazon opened its Garner fulfillment center in May and plans to employ up to 3,000 people. The Graduate Hotel (formerly The Franklin) on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill opened in August and made national news thanks to its Michael Jordan replica room. The medical and life sciences community, a significant imprint of the region, has continued to work, thrive and grow. The Triangle residential real estate market, in part due to low interest rates, is continuing to boom. In short, things here are still churning.
Durham and Raleigh both made Forbes’ ranked list of “The 10 U.S. Cities Best Positioned To Recover From Coronavirus,” which noted the Triangle’s favorable position and previous trajectory “before everything changed.”
As Barrier alluded, people are seeking out regions with a larger suburban footprint and more opportunities to social distance without compromising on amenities or job opportunities. As a result, the Triangle has become an even more enticing place to be.
“Things that may have been seen as drawbacks for the Triangle before COVID-19 are now positives given the current situation,” said Brad Corsmeier, an executive vice president of the Investor Leasing team at CBRE|Raleigh. “For instance, mass transit. We don’t have it here — yet. Historically, this has been a negative selling point against the Triangle, but people are concerned with social distancing right now and it’s good that we’re not reliant on mass transit to get around.”
“The majority of our market is suburban,” added Jason High, an executive vice president of the Occupier Services team at CBRE | Raleigh. “We do not have 1 million-square-foot high-rise buildings like some of the larger cities in the U.S. Even our downtown markets do not have buildings that are exceptionally large. This allows people to drive up to their building and efficiently get up to their floor while maintaining social distance.”
Corsmeier and High noted the current work environment has changed and it is too early to predict how it will look in the future, but noted they have been getting inquiries from companies who are interested in breaking into the Triangle market.
“I think because we continue to produce great talent here out of our universities and we have continued to a maintain an excellent cost of living — all of which we already had — we will draw in companies that may want to create a “spoke and hub” between gateway cities and the Triangle. With Forbes’ ranking us in the Top 10 places to live post-COVID, I think we are going to be the benefactor of jobs here,” said Corsmeier.
The trend of growing outside of major markets into places like Raleigh and Durham is something High said had already started pre-pandemic but is now being shifted into a higher gear. Outlets like Fortune and NPR have detailed this “outbound migration” of people from larger cities into the more suburban regions.
“The Triangle market has been on the forefront of many company’s minds over the last several years. We have seen substantial interest and growth from industries such as tech, life sciences and healthcare,” said Tom Fritsch, senior managing director of CBRE|Raleigh. “This pandemic has hit our market like the rest of the nation. However, the interest and opportunities the Triangle offers has not changed, and I believe the Triangle is poised to continue to experience that growth and interest in the future.”
When it comes to the Triangle’s suburban retail market, Barrier said it has held up pretty strong throughout the pandemic, all things considered.
“Downtowns are certainly quieter right now on the retail front, but we haven’t seen a major drop in occupancy. The Triangle is great from an accessibility perspective. Somebody in a large, densified city would struggle to maintain the same type of amenity base at a safe social distance. Here you’re able to hop in your car and run to the grocery store easily during a rather precarious time where you want to be able to keep that distance,” Barrier said. “Raleigh- Durham is such a wonderful area with a mixture of big-city amenities and outdoor space. There’s space to build a home and also a mix of activities for all ages, which makes it an attractive region for companies, and those that work for them, to locate here.”
This story was written for WRAL TechWire partner CBRE | Raleigh.
Original Article Source: WRAL TechWire