IDA is preparing for what, I believe, will be the most significant gathering of place management professionals since the turn of the millennium. The 67th Annual Conference & Marketplace will provide the first comprehensive leadership discussion on the many issues and uncertainties of post-pandemic urban centers.
We continue to live in very turbulent times, with the outlook of our districts extremely uncertain. Current predictions from Cushman and Wakefield suggest the return to office will begin in the first quarter of 2022 for the United States and the second quarter in Canada. However, it is also understood that shifting demands due to hybrid work and the general flow back to the office will vary significantly across industries and from market to market. It’s noteworthy to consider how increases in the sublease market (JLL Insights – July 21st) with total available space at an all-time high since 2000 may impact post-COVID recovery. For perspective, the amount of space is greater than that following both the dot-com bubble of the early 2000’s and the great recession of 2008.
Beyond the general future trajectory of our cities, I am increasingly concerned with the near-term effect of a depressed office market on municipal finance and the resulting demand for services delivered through IDA members. We can expect declining property assessments to reduce municipal revenues. And like the Great Recession, place management organizations will be facing the challenge, and perhaps even the expectation, to fill the gap in declining municipal services just as demand for public realm services increases. As an industry, we will have to further strengthen partnerships with our municipal leaders and advocate that downtowns, city centers, and commercial neighborhoods remain a priority for municipal investment as they will be the key to overall economic recovery.
We look forward to seeing many IDA members in Tampa, and I look forward to many deep discussions on what will be needed to turn the corner on this pandemic and begin building back our districts and communities. For those unable to attend, rest assured we will share all the findings and outcomes in the months ahead, both online and through our regular virtual event programming.