Business Observer 2.18.22

Page 18

18 commercial real estate BusinessObserverFL.com

BUSINESS OBSERVER | FEBRUARY 18 – FEBRUARY 24, 2022

Sunny Disposition Architects are upbeat about the construction industry in 2022.

T

he architects have spoken, and boy are they upbeat. For the latest iteration of the AIA Tampa Bay’s Voice of Architecture Economic Outlook, 95 area architects were surveyed to get their thoughts on the state of the region’s real estate development economy. They were asked about everything from how they saw things for this year to their thoughts on hiring at their own firms. The results paint a picture of professionals bullish on the industr y and the economic outlook for Tampa Bay. The sur vey, according to the AIA, “serves to predict the future for area real estate development and construction activity.” Architects, the organization says, have a unique insight on what is going to happen because they are hired early in the development process. And these artists of the development industry usually are working on projects for a few years before the first shovel digs into the dirt. T he respondents i n t h is year’s survey were more up-

COURTESY

RACHAEL BROWN, commercial real estate director of the Bank of Tampa, is optimistic about 2022. beat than last year, when they were questioned during the heart of the pandemic. In the 2021 survey, 71% believed the Tampa Bay development-related economy would be “excellent” or “good,” with

GOOD TIMES

BY LOUIS LLOVIO | REAL ESTATE EDITOR

only 29% forecasting it would be “fair.” That’s a 20 percentage point sw ing f rom t his year’s responses. On t he hiring front, 52% say they “strongly agree” or “agree” that their firms would

Results of the 2022 AIA Tampa Bay’s Voice of Architecture Economic Outlook include:

hire in 2021, nearly the same number as this year. But the number of architects believing it’s getting more difficult to hire skilled workers jumped from 65% last year to 72% now. A nd last year, 70% of respondents expected demand for architectural services in the region to increase in 2021. That increased by 14 percentage points in the 2022 survey. Driving much of the optimism in the region’s future is the huge influx of new residents coming into the market during the past couple of years. “It’s all about supply and demand,” says Rachael Brown, commercial real estate director of the Bank of Tampa, who participated on a recent panel about the survey. “Ta mpa Bay has seen a n incredible increase in people and companies moving here in a very short time period, creating a demand our current supply couldn’t and still hasn’t been able to support, which is reflected in the sentiments of this report. We’re lucky that rental rate growth is still outpacing the increase in construction costs and operating expenses, but that can’t last forever. Keep an eye on vacancies to increase and months’ supply of homes on the market to indicate a return to normal.” Of t he 95 architects who responded to t he su r ve y, 73% were either principals or managers.

84%

expect demand for architectural services in the region to increase in 2022.

93%

believe the area’s 2022 developmentrelated economy will be “excellent” or “good,” while 7% say it will be “fair.” No one thought it would be “poor” or “very poor.”

77%

expect to see revenue growth in 2022, with about one-third saying they expect to see “robust growth” of 15% or more.

50%

say their firms will hire more employees in 2022. However, 16% say they are sure their firms won’t be hiring.

72% ers.

say it’s getting harder to hire skilled work-

63%

remotely.

say their firms will continue working

80%

say the pandemic will change how HVAC systems are designed. To address worker safety, some commercial buildings using HVAC systems are being designed to let in more outside air and better filter inside air.

35%

expect new architecture work from the federal infrastructure bill that just passed.

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