Atlantic Canada’s commercial real estate market is on the verge of “a really spectacular renaissance,” according to Bill MacAvoy, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield Atlantic.
As one of the top three global commercial real estate services firms, Cushman & Wakefield Atlantic is contributing to that revival by extending its footprint into Prince Edward Island.
Since 1996, Cushman & Wakefield Atlantic has streamlined commercial real estate services across the east coast, whether it’s in managing the leasing, acquisition and disposing of properties or offering advice on site selection, construction costs, rent collecting and property management.
And while P.E.I. has been on the company’s radar for a number of years, MacAvoy says Cushman & Wakefield Atlantic is proud to once again “have boots on the ground” to support this important market. The company recently hired well-known consultant Ann Worth to be its P.E.I. representative. She’s operated Worth Consulting Group for many years, and has now added commercial real estate to her portfolio.
WELCOME, ANN WORTH
Before Ann Worth came on board, Cushman & Wakefield Atlantic had limited presence on the Island as they offered renewal and relocation services for tenants. MacAvoy says adding Worth to the team creates an exciting opportunity to provide more services for more P.E.I. clients.
While the pandemic hasn’t dampened the real estate market, he says one thing the business community is looking at is the future of the traditional office set-up, and how long the pandemic-induced model of working from home will last.
MacAvoy said research has shown only 25 per cent of employees who’d normally go to the office on a daily basis have continued to do so, while many others now either work shortened weeks at the office, or do a hybrid model between home and the office.
“We think there will be a pivot post-Labour Day,” MacAvoy says, noting that the United States is about six months ahead of us, with around 75-80 per cent of employees back in the office.
If fewer Atlantic Canadians return to their offices, the question for tenants will be whether they continue to lease their current space or reduce the square footage. MacAvoy says it’s possible some companies may keep their space, but reconfigure it to allow for more spacious workspaces, larger conference rooms with more spacing between employees.
In the call centre industry, for example, MacAvoy says it’s been proven that some employees work even more effectively from home.
“A contact centre with 200 people in a 15,000 square foot space? I don’t know if that world will exist next year.”
The real estate market in general, both housing or commercial, hasn’t appeared to weaken. MacAvoy says while the pandemic has resulted in closures of some major retailers, there have also been numerous start-ups in retail and hospitality sectors — as well as growth among local, long-standing entrepreneurs.
MacAvoy also pointed to major growth in the industrial sector, where occupancy rates are as high as they’ve been in a generation.
Cushman & Wakefield Atlantic expects to flourish in P.E.I. and experience continued success in Atlantic Canada. MacAvoy projects 20 to 25 transactions per year in P.E.I. alone, starting in 2022.
“As long as people need advice, we’ll have lots to do.”