As Director of Research at Colliers International | Boston, Aaron manages the information and intelligence in Colliers’ proprietary database, which, includes detailed property statistics on more than 360 million SF of office, lab, and industrial properties in the greater Boston area. He is a monthly guest on Bloomberg Radio’s Baystate Business, and a frequent resource for Bisnow, Banker & Tradesman, The Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal, The Real Reporter, and other publications.
- ULI recently released Emerging Trends in Real Estate® and once again, Boston is in the top 10 Markets to Watch. What makes Metro-Boston such a consistently strong CRE market?
It’s all about talent. Our population is highly educated, our public school system is the best in the country, while 250,000 students are attending our colleges and universities in Greater Boston. This provides a nearly limitless talent pool. We are the global leader life science research and development. Boston has led all cities in the country in National Institutes of Health spending for more than two decades straight. There is nowhere else that has this combination of education, healthcare, and life science. Meanwhile, the fundamentals of our real estate market are healthy. Development is active in the urban core, and space is leasing up. Rents are at all-time highs in most submarkets in and around the city and out to Waltham along the Mass Pike. The industrial market is on fire, and multifamily remains highly sought after. Capital wants to be here, and whether that is domestic, international, debt or equity, when a product comes to market, investors want a piece of it.
- A healthy market has both opportunities and limitations. The ability to find the next project in a built-out metro has its challenges. From your perspective, where does the future lie in the Boston market?
The answer to this question will vary depending on property type. On the housing/multifamily side, more housing is needed across close-in cities to Boston, while Cambridge and Boston need it too. Creative suburban development that integrates a project in with the community be it via open space, near retail or walkable amenities are desirable. But we need that type of development on the ownership side as well. Municipalities need to think long and hard about density, and what the future of housing looks will like. It may not be the four-bedroom colonial on a 1.5-acre lot going forward. Yes, there will be demand for that, but walkable, amenity-rich areas are the future. Industrial growth will remain outside of the city centers, as it is difficult to build new product, as land values have escalated as office, retail, or residential builders can pay more than an industrial developer. Office growth along transit will remain prevalent going forward, but new pockets of activity from Allston to Dorchester, Roxbury and the South End are also going to emerge.
- Over the summer, you participated in the Devens Technical Assistance Panel (TAP). As a first time TAP panelist, what did you gain from the experience?
The TAP program was excellent. It was a fantastic opportunity to give back to the community, and to an area that I have a connection. My grandfather was stationed at Fort Devens in WWII. My dad’s side of the family grew up in Ayer, and my grandmother still lives there today. My mom taught in the Shirley school system for over 40 years. So being able to see how far Devens has come and felt as though I had some potential influence on where it could go in the future was tremendously rewarding. Working hand in hand with a team of ULI members, getting to know them, learning from their expertise, along with the community of Devens and Mass Development was a lot of fun. We presented our findings to an open audience and received positive feedback. For those not familiar with Devens, check it out. Many know it as a former Army base, but it is full of recreation from hiking to swimming, sports fields, and the Nashua River, while also being an ever-growing economic engine for that part of the Commonwealth.
- Why ULI?
When I first started in real estate, several of my colleagues suggested ULI as a valuable organization to join. I followed their advice, and have been a member since! I have found the programming to be fascinating, from touring properties to small group discussions with industry leaders, there is a lot of value to be had. ULI is well respected throughout the industry, and you find a diverse cross-section of folks that intertwine in the planning, use, and development of space. From city officials to real estate consultants, engineers, lawyers, furniture design, architects, owners and investors and many more, there are always plenty of interesting and knowledgeable people to connect with at a ULI event.
- The Holidays are upon us! What are your go-to activities for the season of giving?
At this time of year, we try to make as much time as possible for family. With two young children at home, Christmas around our house is kid-centric. Once Thanksgiving is over, we decorate the tree and house, continuing a lovely family tradition from my wife’s side. Lots of Christmas movies/shows, and every couple years we go to see a performance of the Nutcracker. We also have a tradition of riding in the car searching for lights and decorations on houses.
As it is the season of giving, my kids like to help out by getting gifts for children in need in our local community, and also providing gifts of clean water, baby chicks, and animals abroad.