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Carr Properties CEO Oliver Carr Keynotes Bisnow’s Boston State Of The Market

Oliver Carr walks out to the mound to toss out the first pitch at Fenway Park.

Boston will soon welcome its tallest new office tower in more than three decades, courtesy of Carr Properties, a $3.5B asset private office investment trust based in Washington, D.C. 

The 43-story office building, dubbed One Congress, is part of the first phase of the Bulfinch Crossing development that will replace the hulking Government Center Garage. In July, Carr Properties upped its ownership stake in the building from 50% to 75%, citing its strong belief in the future of downtown Boston. 

The Bulfinch Crossing project, and One Congress specifically, will be the subject of the keynote panel at Bisnow’s Boston State of the Market event Nov. 19 at the Park Plaza. Carr Properties CEO Oliver Carr sat down with Bisnow to give us a sneak peek of what he’ll be discussing. Register here for the event.

Bisnow: As a REIT based largely in Washington, what brought on the big play for Boston? 

Carr: When we were considering expansion markets, Boston was a logical choice. We love the fact that the Boston economy is solidly in growth mode, with technology and life sciences drivers. In our view, the combination of these growth industries, paired with the power of amazing research-based institutions like MIT, creates a very special ecosystem that should allow Boston to overperform for years to come. 

Bisnow: What do you like about the market, and where do you see it going in the future?

Carr: New office construction in Boston is largely in check, so we like the demand-supply fundamentals. We would like to grow in Boston and function just like we do here in D.C., owning high-quality buildings that offer market-leading amenities so that we can deliver customers an amazing experience. We would like to grow our footprint in Boston and invest for the long term. 

Bisnow: Why is Bisnow's Boston State of the Market event important to you?

Carr: As a new entrant to the market, we are excited to introduce the Carr brand and share our story. I also want to meet more of the local real estate community and grow our relationship in the market. Between our One Congress development and 200 State Street acquisitions, we have shown a solid commitment to Boston with over $1B of investments. Our hope is that we are just getting started.

Carr with his son Chris after completing the 2019 Boston Marathon

Bisnow: What do you think is the most pressing issue affecting commercial offices today?

Carr: The way companies use office space is changing. Over the last few decades, space utilization has dropped by approximately 100 SF per person. Additionally, companies are looking for flexible lease terms for some or all of their space needs. Both of these trends — efficient use of space and lease flexibility — are reducing the demand for traditional office space and driving growth in the coworking market. This creates a big challenge for existing office building owners.

In our view, these workplace trends also create an opportunity. If office owners can offer a differentiated product so that they capture a disproportionate share of demand and invest in high-growth, technology-led markets that are more immune from these long-term trends, they can set themselves up for success.

Bisnow: What about in the wider world of CRE?

Carr: One of the most pressing issues in real estate is the lack of affordable housing. As an industry, together with government leaders, we have to find a way to create more incentives to attract private capital to invest in the segment. With the right incentives, private capital can dramatically increase the stock of affordable housing and start to create the alternatives that we desperately need.

Bisnow: What are you passionate about outside of the office?

Carr: Spending time with my family is No. 1. I like nothing better than being together at our place in Nantucket and enjoying beach time and fishing. In addition to working with several charities, I really enjoy serving on the MIT Center for Real Estate Executive Board. MIT is an amazing institution and it is very special to be part of the leading academic and research innovator in the built environment.

Bisnow’s Boston State of the Market will take place on Nov. 19 at the Park Plaza. Register here for the event.