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The Experience Factor Spreads Throughout CRE | By Tanya Sterling, GlobeSt.com

Nov 15th, 2019

“Hospitality and experience are the new buzz words for real estate, and seemingly as common and important as location.”

Brooklyn, NY – November 15, 2019 – globest.comMove aside ‘location, location, location.’ Experience has become the new buzzword for commercial real estate. Or if you prefer, the more traditional word ‘hospitality.’

“Hospitality and experience are the new buzz words for real estate, and seemingly as common and important as location,” David Berg, partner at Infinity Real Estate, tells GlobeSt.com. “The hospitality industry affects the office market from a coworking perspective and the retail market from an experiential perspective. Most retailers are now focused on an experience-driven space. They plan on bringing a fresh, new experience to their location in order to compete with online shopping.”

In retail, online spending has become so disruptive that without an experience-driven concept, it is challenging for retailers to survive even with a recognized brand name. Office spaces are now also jumping in and adding common areas, concierges, bars and outdoor spaces.

“I think we are going to be hard pressed to find a successful property sector going forward where hospitality services and experience-driven consumer interaction isn’t at the forefront of the offering,” Berg says.

But today’s experiences are only as good as however long they stay top-of-mind, he continues. “Every brand is on the hunt for memory-making and consumer stickiness, but the winners are going to be the ones that are authentic and deliver on their brand promises in a world where most fall short of both.”

This is not to say that the more traditional metrics can now be put aside. For example, the tenant experience has become key to multifamily but Berg and his team never forget the basics, such as:

  • cost per square foot
  • cost per unit
  • going in and stabilized yield
  • proximity to the metro or public transportation
  • size of the units plus unit mix
  • vintage of the infrastructure

Investment Criteria

Invetsment-wise, Berg and his team are attracted to a wide variety of properties and areas.

“We try to know a lot about a little, one could say. What I mean by that is we try to be experts in certain property types in certain submarkets but not experts in all submarkets. For instance, in Miami, we are experts in certain parts of Miami Beach and Miami, but do not play in South Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other surrounding submarkets. In Philadelphia and Boston, our radius of interest in certain submarkets can be a few specific blocks/streets. We tend to leverage our know-how and infrastructure so that we are not spread thin or overextend ourselves,” explains Berg.

Flow of Capital to Secondary Markets

Berg, who joined Infinity in 2011, observes that there is significantly more capital flowing to cities that were previously not at the forefront of national and international investors. Cities like Austin, Nashville, Seattle and Philadelphia, to name a few, have seen a tremendous amount of interest from out-of-market buyers and owners.

“The competition in these cities has certainly increased and that has had a direct impact on more traditional primary markets like Manhattan, which is seeing a material slowdown in investment activity and value growth in recent years,” says Berg. “We’re also experiencing a distinct shift in what it takes to attract captive end users. Whether its residential, retail or office, there seems to be a hospitality element to all shapes and sizes of real estate. Largely driven by the WeWorks, Sonders and experience-driven retailers, the absorption of all three sectors is being driven by relatively new players.”

Going into 2020

Berg believes the industry is in for a bumpy and windy road ahead.

“Legislation in some of the country’s ‘core’ markets has had an immediate impact on property values, future investment and growth. Some of the secondary markets have seen an uptick in supply that has yet to be proven and most of the absorption of this supply continues to be driven by new companies that are following the ‘growth model’ without yet turning a profit,” forecasts Berg.

“I foresee some correction on both the valuations of these firms such as WeWork, but also a flight to the historical norm of balancing supply with demand by individual users as opposed to bulk leasing both on the office and residential fronts.”

About Infinity Real Estate, LLC
Infinity Real Estate is a privately-owned developer, owner, and manager of high-quality real estate in primary U.S. markets. The Company’s portfolio includes over 60 individual properties representing over 1 million square feet of retail, office and hospitality space and over 1,800 urban rental apartments. Through its affiliates and portfolio companies, Infinity has managed over 115 properties representing over 20 million square feet. The Company’s principals have led or have directly transacted on over $5 billion of real estate related investments spanning the acquisition or development of individual properties and portfolios, as well as several private corporate deals. Infinity has established a strict investment discipline centered on active management of all its projects. The Company has completed over 30 historically protected redevelopment projects in five US cities. Infinity’s “Green Landmark Initiative” is aimed at modernizing the infrastructure and transforming the spatial programming of historic properties, so that they operate with the highest efficiency and smallest environmental footprint possible, while rehabilitating and preserving precious architectural elements of the historic structures. Infinity pledges 1% of its revenues to environmental preservation and social causes as a member of 1% FOR THE PLANET – the environmental non-profit’s only member real estate company. Infinity Real Estate was founded in 2005 by Steven J. Kassin and is headquartered in New York City.

 

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