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10 Dec
Global tenant body grapples with Brexit, Trump

With Lisa Seun, Director

The political tsunamis generated by the UK’s Brexit and the election of President Donald Trump have flooded through into the corporate world and focused the discussions of global commercial property leaders at the bi-annual ITRA conference in Paris recently.

Justin Boelen and I attended, representing ACORPP as a member of this global organisation.  ITRA unifies independent tenant representatives from throughout the world, promotes the highest standards of business ethics and provides a forum for professional networking and business opportunities.


Ahead of the City of Light, we visited Rotterdam where we met with fellow ITRA members from AREA-OS (Occupier Solutions), Fred-Anton Knoop, Stephan Buis and Sven-Olaf de Vries. We toured the city that was heavily bombed in World War 2 and has been substantially rebuilt since then. Of particular interest to us was the way the city had reinvented and rebranded itself during its redevelopment. Our hosts shared with us that many areas had become criminally-prone, no-go zones, but had gradually been converted into high foot traffic precincts characterised by cafes, restaurants, bars and commercial premises. Many buildings that had fallen vacant were repurposed as apartments, hotels and even more creative uses. There were innovations like urban fruit and vegetable gardens, often started by cafes and restaurants to provide fresh food. You can imagine the kind of vibrancy that generates. I couldn’t help reflecting on Perth’s high commercial vacancy rate, still characterised by scores of empty floors and buildings. The question for building owners and regulators is – do you continue to hold on for possible better times or do you look to a more entrepreneurial use of the building? It’s the willingness to think along those lines that can lead to regeneration of CBD areas.


The conference was an opportunity to hear how others are handling these kinds of challenges and there was a strong and somewhat anxious focus on Brexit and the impact of the US political climate on the property sector. Justin took part in an international panel discussion: “What in the world is going on and what does it mean for my business?” another indicator of the uncertainty that currently characterises the commercial world.

A popular topic was the rise of WELL-rated building certification. It’s certainly an issue that is going to occupy the minds of developers of future projects as they turn their attention to delivering what it takes to attract and retain tenants of the highest calibre. A WELL rating signifies people are put first in any new building and it offers a framework to help improve the health and wellbeing of everyone who works in, visits, or experiences a particular building. It’s likely informed tenants will demand a high level of WELL rating as its formal benchmark and the insightful developer would be advised to get up to speed on this standard.

On a personal note, I was deeply honoured by the confidence and support received from fellow ITRA associates from around the globe as I was unexpectedly nominated and voted into a position as the international representative on the ITRA Global board.  Its going to involve a lot of late night conference calls and long haul flights but it will be worth it as we continue to try to spread the awareness of the intrinsic value of using tenant reps whose allegiance lies only with the end-user of corporate real estate.

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