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Shared Working, Living Spaces 'Coming on Us Like a Tsunami'

Urbanist Richard Florida Addresses NAIOP Members on the Changing Nature of Real Estate
October 8, 2018
Real estate brokers and developers must get comfortable quickly with both shared office and living spaces -- concepts that are bringing about the “flexible intertwining of life and work,” according to Richard Florida, a nationally known urbanist.

“It is coming on us like a tsunami,” he said in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, during a presentation to members of NAIOP, the commercial real estate development organization.

“This is a big deal,” Florida added. “People at WeWork aren’t just talking about building offices. They’re talking about building neighborhoods.”

Florida, an author, researcher and entrepreneur, is a professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management. He also is a distinguished fellow at Florida International University in Miami.

During his hourlong presentation, he addressed what he calls the Creative Class, a group of 40 million American workers whose creativity and innovation lead to economic growth and development.

Florida, the son of Italian immigrants who grew up in Newark, New Jersey, said it’s vital for communities to attract and retain creative workers because areas that don’t fall behind.

He said Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area is the most dependent place in the nation on highly skilled foreign talent. He raised a few eyebrows by saying the No. 2 U.S. metro area in that category is South Florida.

He said creative workers “are the driving force of this new world.”

South Florida examples of the influence of the Creative Class include the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami.

The 50-block area north of downtown once was a dilapidated warehouse district, but it has blossomed into a thriving arts corridor with trendy new shops and restaurants. The success of Wynwood is prompting developers to build new offices and residences there.

The Flagler Village neighborhood north of downtown Fort Lauderdale is undergoing a similar renaissance with new rentals attracting young professionals who want to live near their work. The neighborhood also has FAT Village, which stands for the Flagler Arts and Technology district that caters to technology-based businesses, artists and musicians.

Still, Florida pointed out that five years ago, the United States used to have 95 percent of the world’s venture capital upstarts -- companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Uber that have helped increase productivity and raise the standard of living in this country.

But the U.S. share has slipped to 50 percent, he said. China has a quarter. Canada, India and other countries also are gaining ground.

“This is when things are coming home to roost,” he said. “If this continues, we’re in for a big, hard awakening.”
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