Connectivity, innovative use of space, and the environment top the list

In the modern age of disruption, no business is immune to the ever-increasing pace of change. Commercial real estate is no exception, and a current trend cascading through the industry is the concept of future-proofing—designing (or redesigning) your property to adapt to changes in the habits of renters and entrepreneurs, the shifting of our climate, and our communication needs in a 24/7 connected world.

South Florida has seen ample opportunities—and challenges—in future-proofing its CRE market. Tenant demand has soared in recent years, for example. This has turned developers’ attention towards the dilemma of how to mindfully increase urban density in a way that accommodates the as-yet-unknown needs of future generations.

Let’s take a look at four of the issues that are shaping the future of CRE:

1. Rethinking mixed-use real estate

If the future-proofing movement could be summarized in a single word, it might be flexibility. How we work, shop and live is in a near-constant state of flux which poses a challenge for property owners who need to make decisions—before a shovel even goes into the ground—about how their building will be used by tenants and the public. Thoughtful design can mitigate many of these variables.

A property’s relevance will be determined by its owner’s ability to change with the times, adapting to new kinds of tenants, new uses, and even a new climate. This has made developers rethink the traditional “mixed-use” property, where a building may have predetermined functions assigned to each space (retail, restaurant, residential, parking).

Instead, they are beginning to lean more towards “multi-use,” which may look a lot like the modern hotel, where the same space houses multiple functions such as conference rooms, mini-bars, fitness centers, business nooks, and overnight accommodations.

2. Adapting to shifting renter preferences and parking needs

Unlike tenants of years past, today’s residents are less concerned about the size of their units than the flexibility of the common spaces that accompany them. They are more inclined to take the party into the lobby rather than confine it to their apartments. Traditional fitness centers often remain empty or lightly used, leading some managers to repurpose the space to accommodate both exercise and coworking.

As Uber, Lyft, and public transit change the face of driving, the exact future of the parking garage is also changing and uncertain. In their current form, most underutilized garages only have second lives as storage facilities, but forward-looking designers can ensure that future parking structures have proper ventilation, lighting, and space for conversion into rental or office units. The top level of a garage has a multitude of uses, from a roof deck suite to an urban garden.

3. Connectivity is a priority for CRE

In an increasingly wired world, a near-universal demand of business and residential tenants alike is the high-speed Internet. Newer construction projects build this into their framework but older buildings face a challenge meeting this growing need. Nevertheless, it should rise to the top of the developer’s to-do list when courting occupants now and in decades to come.

Increased connectivity also necessitates increased cybersecurity. With dozens or perhaps hundreds of users online at once—and the rise of smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT)—a network’s vulnerability increases. Maintenance crews and third-party vendors also need access, making attention to password protocols and multifactor authentication important for a safe online experience.

It also means higher electric bills. A generation ago, people owned few electronics and certainly had no need to charge multiple devices at once. From surge protectors to additional wall outlets, there are many quick fixes modern developers can make to accommodate tenant expectations.

4. Environmental stewardship must not be forgotten

Florida is no stranger to the environmental impacts of our ever-shifting climate and its CRE industry has noticed. State leaders have taken proactive steps to future-proof buildings and communities, particularly in low-lying coastal areas. In Miami, these include a $400 million government bond and a voter-approved residential tax to lessen the effects of storm surges and coastal flooding.

North Miami has gone so far as to partner with the Van Alen Institute, a design-centric non-profit focused on urban improvement. Together, they aim to find creative solutions in the development of repetitive loss properties—vacant lots that are increasingly prone to floods.

South Florida CRE design for the future

Alongside flexibility, longevity is the other essential term in future-proofing your property. Make the building last, both in its structure and utility. It should stand strong and vibrant 20, 30, and 50 years from now. Thoughtfully designed now, for the future. Morris Southeast Group will work with you to develop a property that lasts for generations to come. For a free consultation on commercial real estate investment or property management services, call us at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at


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