MacRo LTD Blog

The Next Big Urbanization

Office Buildings to Apartment Complexes

There are a gazillion articles, some even penned by MacRo Ltd., on the new ‘workforce’ in the new ‘workplace’ and how they will impact the “new” office environment.


It’s clear that the future of our office market is going to be very different than what we see today, especially for the larger campus style properties.

Unfortunately, the hard truth for Frederick and the surrounding area is that it will take years to absorb the current glut of outdated office space. Yet, a majority of these locations remain extremely valuable and useful. Just maybe not in the way they are currently positioned in the market.

Think about why developers build office buildings in certain areas. Then think about how developers select sites for apartment building construction. Notice any similarities? How about quick and easy access to transportation, restaurants, shopping, similar office product and other desirable amenities?

These characteristics—or lack thereof—determine the attractiveness and potential profitability of a building.

Now think about the cost of demolishing an office building to have another building rise in the same spot. Compare that to simply converting that vacant and obsolete glass, concrete and steel dinosaur into a vibrant, technology- friendly urban residential hub.

Whether condos or rentals, the demand for urban-efficient housing continues to outpace supply. Office-to-residence reuse has grown rapidly in the primary market over the past several years and is now becoming financially viable in large markets and smaller markets, like Frederick.

In fact, a perfect redevelopment storm could be brewing in Frederick.

First, we have the empty and outdated building inventory. Next, the multifamily market shows signs of steady and prolonged growth, as well as strong financial support to extend that trend. Also, in a strange and unusual coupling, the Frederick market has a growing community of millennials and boomers seeking similarly efficient urban housing. And last but not least, there are discussions underway within the City of Frederick to finally change the Land Management Code to better promote and serve a lively, contemporary, and diverse community.

The pieces are in place for growing a modern yet historic community without occupying additional land, building new roads and creating further congestion.

So, as wise ol’ Abe Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” We have the vision. Now let’s begin making that vibrant, urban future a reality.

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Steve Cranford, Vice President, Commercial Sales & Leasing, joined MacRo in 2013. He has 15-year track record of real estate success and 20 years experience as an entrepreneur and key contributor to Fortune 100 organizations. As a licensed Realtor professional, he represents sellers, landlords, buyers and tenants in negotiating a variety of commercial real estate agreements in Frederick and the surrounding counties.


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