Rounding the corner into the final weeks of 2016, it’s time for our annual post predicting the commercial construction trends that will influence the industry in the coming year. Looking back at the past 12 months, we’ve seen a tremendous variety of opportunities ranging from restaurant construction to senior housing development, yet there has been one common thread among our many projects that will continue to shape the work we do in 2017: creating an exceptional experience for the end user is more important than ever. Here’s how that overall trend will drive commercial construction opportunities across different sectors in the coming year:
Eat. Play. Lounge.
As retail center developers work to combat the effects of e-commerce, one of their top strategies is to drive traffic by creating a unique and engaging experience that gives shoppers new reason to head to the mall. In today’s market, food-entertainment concepts have emerged as one of the most popular ways to make new and existing shopping centers an entertainment destination in and of themselves. Our Restaurant Group has already been busy with projects ranging from ping pong clubs with a full restaurant and bar, to video gaming parlors connected to dining options. We’ve also seen significant construction activity in the way of new movie theater concepts offering restaurant-caliber food and liquor menus with at-your-seat service. And as developers tap these full-service theaters as the entertainment anchor of their centers, traditional movie theater chains are enlisting contractors to upgrade their locations with lounges and bars in the common areas between theaters.
This emphasis on food-entertainment is part of a larger trend wherein clients are transitioning under-performing shopping centers into full-service entertainment districts with retail, multiple restaurants, theaters and more. We’ve worked with developers on projects in Norfolk, Va. and Kansas City to turn fringe, underutilized warehouse areas into full-blown entertainment zones. The common denominator among these projects is their proximity to downtown districts and apartment housing, making them part of an overall lifestyle experience geared toward the millennial generation.
Golden Age for Golden Girls
Just as shopping center developers will be focusing on creating an engaging experience, so too will senior housing developers as they work to match the expectations of a new generation of aging Americans. Our Senior Living Group is seeing an uptick in opportunities nationally, especially as existing senior living developments engage our firm to overhaul their amenity spaces and common areas to create a resident experience on-par with what’s being offered at new-construction senior communities. Across the board, the residential experience at these communities is changing. Rather than large, sterile facilities, new and renovated developments are incorporating a new mix of amenities with a hospitality feel. Falling in line with hotel renovation projects, we’re working with owners and operators to include lounge areas, entertainment spaces and even bars, designed to give residents a vibrant, social lifestyle.
The Incredible Shrinking Hotel Spa
Finally, experience will continue to be a key focus of hospitality construction projects, too, as national hotel chains seek to stand out from competition with a strategic mix of amenities. A recent survey by Hotel Management magazine found that 70 percent of respondents plan to allocate budget toward renovations in 2017, and amenity areas are especially ripe for remodeling work as existing hotels reallocate their space based on guest priorities. Often, that means less square footage devoted to a spa area or pool, and more emphasis placed on the amenities guests say they use most – a fitness center, comfortable lounge areas and food and beverage offerings. Many of these projects echo the focus on social interaction we have seen in other sectors, as even value-based brands add amenities they have not traditionally offered – including lobby bars and dining options within the footprint of the building.
We’re looking forward to a terrific 2017, filled with exciting opportunities with new and existing clients. But before 2016 is officially a wrap, we’ll share some of our key takeaways – including commercial construction challenges and opportunities – from the past year. Be sure to check back with us in December as we close out the year with a look at the highs and lows of commercial construction in 2016.
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