Real estate developers and construction companies around the country are starting to pay some serious attention to the wants and needs of the technology sector. While it’s a given that there will be plenty of construction activity catering to tech companies in places like San Francisco and Seattle, the past few years has led to an increase in newer tech arenas in cities as large as New York, and in middle-sized cities like Austin, Texas.
Design and construction for tech companies is different from traditional office builds, often requiring open floor plans, areas for recreation, and various spaces used for the unique wants and needs of the company in residence (think Google’s in-office nap pods). These companies simply don’t expect to attract top talent if their headquarters feature cubicles, fluorescent lighting, and outdated technology. Additionally, they must offer the latest in fiber optics and wireless technology to support the advanced needs of technology developers. Many older buildings simply do not offer the infrastructure that’s becoming necessary for technology companies to do business the way they need to, and several forward thinking developers are aiming to answer that need.
New York City’s ‘Silicon Alley‘ gets quite a lot of attention as the place to be for tech companies and startups in Manhattan, but developers are starting to find opportunities in the outer Burroughs as well, particularly Brooklyn. The New York Times recently covered Jared Kushner’s investment in newly emerging Dumbo Heights, emphasizing the fact that his recent purchase of the Watchtower building will cater entirely to technology companies and startups.
At the other end of New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged the ‘Buffalo Billion’ to support the Buffalo economy, and a cornerstone of that initiative is the building of a high-tech hub expected to create at least 500 new construction jobs. The new hub already has several established technology companies committed to signing a lease, including IBM, and area startups are eying the space for possible accommodations. With the region’s largest GC working together with one of the area’s largest developers, and the huge tax incentives for companies relocating to the area, expectations are high that Buffalo will provide an ideal home for a significant portion of the tech industry.
Developers in Baltimore have been working hard to keep pace with the city’s fast-growing tech community, striving to find and/or create spaces that will serve their needs. Construction will soon begin on a 170,000 square-foot building to serve as a hub for the city’s science and technology companies, including John Hopkins University. The goal of the building’s developers is to be able to provide a reasonably priced space for emerging companies who have expensive needs, but cannot afford the overhead of high rent in the early stages of their companies.
These are just a handful of examples filling the news lately – enough to see that commercial construction projects serving office workers presents a unique opportunity to build for the future.