The US commercial real estate market has been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the big tech companies have been able to take advantage of this debacle to get new bargains on offices and other real estate. A situation that reinforces the trend during the last decade, in which Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google and Microsoft have quintupled the commercial space they occupy. Thus, these companies already manage more than 54.7 million square meters of commercial space in the United States. A figure that exceeds the sum of the entire office space in New York City.
Precisely Manhattan has become the fetish target for many of these great technology companies. Last month Google announced that it will buy John’s Terminal in Hudson Square for $ 2.1 billion. This last agreement increases its total area in the city to almost 288,000 square meters. Let’s remember that the Mountain View (California) company has also bought 111 8th Avenue -where it occupies more than 74,000 square meters of space, as well as the Chelsea Market building. Amazon, for its part, paid $ 978 million last year for the former Lord & Taylor stores.
With your sights on Manhattan
The technology sector has been the most important for the second consecutive year in the activity of purchases and rentals of commercial real estate space in Manhattan, according to the consulting firm CBRE Group. While large technology companies increase their presence, others reduce their presence. Since the beginning of the year, financial giants like JPMorgan Chase have sought to sublet part of their Manhattan offices.
The appetite of big tech companies for real estate has served the economies of many cities and states. When your employees arrive in a new area, property taxes tend to increase, giving more resources to local governments. Local restaurants, businesses, and other businesses also often benefit.
In fact, Google CFO Ruth Porat stressed late last month that since 2005, the company has provided more than $ 170 million in grants to New York nonprofits. Additionally, through Google’s training programs, more than 3,800 New Yorkers have completed a certification program to date.
“The investments we are making in the New York campus will give us the ability to grow our workforce in the city to more than 14,000 employees in the coming year and we look forward to continuing to be an active part of the vibrant city community.” assured.
Even so, the impact of technology companies in the real estate sector has also generated significant controversy due to the distortion it causes in the housing market. Especially when it comes to rising rents.
Recall that, in Europe, two years ago, Google canceled its plans to open a campus for technology companies in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin, due to protests over rising rental prices.
At the same time, Amazon canceled its plans to open an office campus in Long Island City (New York) after criticism from residents and lawmakers in the area. Big tech companies have pledged to spend billions of dollars developing affordable housing, but even these initiatives are not enough to offset their impact on rental prices in many communities.
Apple currently plans to accelerate its investments in the US, with plans to make new contributions of more than $ 430 billion and add 20,000 new jobs nationwide over the next five years. As part of its investments and expansion, Cupertino plans to invest more than $ 1 billion in North Carolina and will begin construction of a new campus and engineering center in that state. The investment will create at least 3,000 new jobs in machine learning, artificial intelligence, software engineering and other cutting-edge fields.
While many tech industry employees telecommute and companies like Google and Facebook have said they will allow some workers to maintain this dynamic even after the pandemic, this has not made tech companies less willing to invest in real estate, including space. of offices. As many companies with smaller cash reserves are trying to get rid of leases and commercial property, Big Tech is currently buying commercial space at an added discount.
The pandemic and the rise of e-commerce have also seen technology companies expand their portfolio of warehouses and data centers. This year alone, the five largest technology companies have increased their real estate presence by more than 25%, the fastest growth rate recorded in the last decade.
Listed companies control 1.6 trillion real estate assets
According to S&P Global Market Intelligence data echoed by the Wall Street Journal, today, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Microsoft are positioned just behind Walmart as the listed companies with the largest land holdings and real estate space on this side of the Atlantic. The one in Seattle (Washington) currently has about $ 57.32 billion in this asset class. Google is close behind with $ 49.73 billion and Microsoft with another $ 47.59 billion.
In total, these three technological giants account for today with 154,640 million dollars in real estate assets. Overall, publicly traded US companies own land and buildings valued at $ 1.64 trillion, with Walmart topping the list of companies. It’s also important to remember that Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook closed last year with a total cash box of about $ 647.5 billion.
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