Commercial real estate mogul: Future of office space after pandemic looks healthy

Jan 29, 2022, 3:42 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 3:32 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many companies into remote work and hybrid work environments over the past two years, a Utah commercial real estate mogul said Friday he expects the demand for office space and traditional workplaces to remain high well into the future.

Brandon Fugal, chairman of Colliers International in Utah, said the state and Wasatch Front in particular continue to be in a period of unprecedented commercial and industrial construction and expansion.

“We’ve never seen so much new construction on our skyline,” Fugal said as he toured a KSL crew through an under-construction, 400,000-square-foot Zions Bancorporation tech campus in Midvale. “We are standing in the largest, single-phase office campus ever built in Utah history.”

Fugal said it also appears the arrival of new companies from out of state, as well as existing companies looking for more appealing workplaces, will continue to fuel demand.

“We’ve seen a lot of upward pressure on lease rates,” said Fugal, who also acknowledged increasing construction costs factored as well.

He did not suspect, however, that employers would seek to persist in remote work long after the end of the pandemic, whenever that is.

“Companies are finding that it is difficult to maintain any type of accountability, or their unique corporate culture in a remote working setting,” Fugal said. “It’s simply not sustainable, which makes our office spaces more important than ever.”

Fugal said he suspected many companies will continue to move toward more enticing, perk-filled work environments as they bring back their employees.

“It’s not just about having the best space, it’s about having the right amenities coupled with that space in order to draw talent,” he said.

He said Utah continues to outpace other states as a place for new business and industry, and he believed the market is “positioned for success.”

“This 400,000 square-foot campus that is under construction is a good indication of what you can expect in the future,” Fugal said.

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Commercial real estate mogul: Future of office space after pandemic looks healthy