Commercial office development may’ve slowed down in recent months, but the housing market is performing well across all indicators, according to participants in a roundtable discussion hosted by the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation this week.
Bill Kick, an assistant vice president at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc., moderated the discussion, marshalling the insights of several local real estate and land development experts – each with a unique perspective on the market.
Heather Hall, first senior vice president at Mid Penn Bank, said commercial office development is definitely slower since the start of the pandemic. “No one’s building new office buildings right now, and, if they are, they’re funding that themselves primarily,” she said. However, she is seeing a lot of loans associated with housing construction, particularly apartment and rental housing. She is also seeing a lot of interest in the development of mixed-use neighborhoods with homes, restaurants and shops in close proximity.
Art Campbell, president and broker at Campbell Commercial Real Estate, said people who are no longer able to frequent the restaurants and shops near their office may have a stronger desire for these amenities near their home. He reflected on the ripple effect across different economic sectors when people are working from home, instead of a commercial office building.
It’s not just the real estate sector that is impacted, according to Campbell. When no one is in the office, they’re not eating at the restaurants near that office, they’re not having their suits dry-cleaned, and they’re not generating a lot of traffic on local roads. Many industries are affected.