With CBRE recently celebrating 15 years since setting up office in Aberdeen it felt like a good time to reflect on the changes in the commercial property industry in the city over that period.
Firstly, the city has changed significantly. No longer do occupiers complain about tail-backs at Dyce; they can now get round the city in no time thanks to the AWPR. Where once occupiers had to make do with sub standard office pavilions in industrial estates, they now operate from best in class office buildings with plentiful amenities at the likes of Prime Four Business Park.
In 2008 the Energy Performance Certificate was introduced into Scotland, 15 years later this rating has now become one of the key deciding factors in whether a property makes a company’s shortlist for viewings or not. It has also been fascinating to witness the change in emphasis from energy companies - from sole focus on oil and gas extraction in the North Sea to now inspecting office headquarters and seeing teams based in Aberdeen dedicated to driving energy transition globally.
Up until 2015, a considerable amount of time was spent working with architects on designs for new developments, but due to the market changing, the focus in the last eight years has been on letting these buildings. We are however reaching the stage where this high quality Grade A space is almost now fully let.
The workplace has changed immensely. We have gone from Facebook being banned on our PCs to social media on mobile phones being one of the key tools for business promotion and information. The pandemic has also accelerated the change in work dress code; you now get quizzed on why you are wearing a suit and tie but get asked no questions if you turn up in jeans and trainers.
Client meetings in offices have also reduced in regularity. There is now more chance you will meet a client in a coffee shop or virtually on Teams. This week we put all our hard copy marketing details out to recycling in preparation for our office move, again a change accelerated through the pandemic.
The transformation of CBRE in Aberdeen has been exciting to be part of. At one point the team was based in what felt like a shoebox with three colleagues in a West End back lane, but we now have a multi-disciplined service line offering of 15 staff plus 70 facilities management staff based in client sites across the North East. 15 years ago the city centre was not the most sought after office location, however now Marischal Square is home to the likes of EY, KPMG, RBS, Chevron, Burness Paull and shortly CBRE.
The one constant over the period CBRE has operated in the city has been the challenges around letting space on Union Street. It has however been encouraging to see the positive change such as the Music Hall redevelopment, NuArt brightening up grey buildings, The Capitol and The Silver Fin Building attracting the likes of Shell to the city centre and Spectra at the new and improved Union Terrace Gardens being nothing short of phenomenal last weekend. Here is hoping that in the next 15 years we collectively turn the narrative round so that it is a street we all talk up and can be proud of.