Julie Whelan

Julie Whelan, global head of occupier thought leadership at CBRE, was a guest on the latest episode of the REIT Report podcast.

Whelan discussed the findings of a new CBRE report, Shaping Tomorrow’s Cities, which looks at ways to reinvent U.S. cities after the upheaval of the pandemic and the growth of remote work. She noted that urban revitalization trends that were evident in the period leading up to the pandemic were “stopped in their tracks” by COVID-19 and the “sheer concern of density being a health problem.”

The CBRE report found that a diverse built environment in vibrant mixed-use districts was more attractive to office tenants, more attractive to residents, and more attractive to retailers setting up shops to support the population in that area. Vibrant mixed-use districts are essential for urban rejuvenation, Whelan said, “because just working in cities is not the pure draw anymore.”

While the pandemic was a major disruption to urban rejuvenation, Whelan also noted that the same millennial generation that drove the infusion of population in the urban core between 2000 and 2020 are now in the age bracket where they're having families and wanting to buy houses or at least live in areas that are more suburban in nature.

“What that means, we believe, is that cities really need to transform into a place where they are welcoming more urban vibrancy, becoming a better place for more people across all age groups to live,” Whelan said.