The Real Estate Roundtable, a group including major real estate firms such as Brookfield Properties, Blackstone, Empire State Realty Trust, Starwood Capital, as well as multiple major banks and CRE professional organizations, recently sent a letter to President Joe Biden on the implications of remote work within the federal government.
The roundtable expressed concern that the work-from-home trend in government would upset the commercial real estate industry in the Washington D.C.-area along with the local economy. “We … respectfully urge you to direct federal agencies to enhance their consideration of the impact of agency employee remote working on communities, surrounding small employers, transit systems, local tax bases, and other important considerations, along with the direct effect on governmental service delivery and labor productivity,” the letter reads. “In addition, we ask for your support of legislation to facilitate the increased conversion of underutilized office and other commercial real estate to much-needed housing.”
The roundtable’s action came after a General Accounting Office report from September said that based on a survey most agencies were planning significant reductions in the space they use.
Empty buildings lead to reduced economic activity in the form of less foot traffic to restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues. This in turn means less money for taxes that pay for city services and infrastructure. This downward spiral also leads to falling property valuations.
One option to halt such an economic slide, the roundtable wrote, would be to expedite conversions of under-used office space to housing, which is in short supply in many urban regions including the nation’s capital.
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