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‘Demand Is Pushing Office Rents To New Highs’: Columbia Property Trust’s Nelson Mills At Bisnow’s San Francisco State Of The Market

Nelson Mills, Principal, CEO and Director of Columbia Property Trust
Columbia Property Trust principal, CEO and Director Nelson Mills

Everything that is set to impact the future of commercial real estate in San Francisco — from upcoming construction projects to the arrival of the Golden State Warriors — will be discussed at Bisnow’s San Francisco State of the Market event June 20. Speakers will give their take on San Francisco’s largest office space deal ever, the rise of foreign investors and the CRE trends that will emerge in the coming year. Register here for the event. 

Nelson Mills, principal, CEO and director of Columbia Property Trust, understands why the Golden Gate City’s status as an international tech powerhouse makes it irresistible to investors. Columbia Property Trust manages 8.2M SF of property across the U.S., 2M SF of which is in San Francisco. 

“San Francisco is a global center for technological and financial innovation,” Mills said. “Columbia has invested heavily in this city because we believe in its long-term prospects for rent and value growth for commercial real estate.” 

With more than 30 years of experience in real estate investment and financial services, Mills also understands the massive challenges currently facing San Francisco’s CRE investors and developers. According to Mills, as demand for office space continues to outpace supply, companies looking to make San Francisco their home may be forced to pay up or move out. 

Bisnow spoke with Mills to get a preview of what he will be discussing during the Investment, Financing and Capital Markets panel at Bisnow’s upcoming San Francisco State of the Market event.

Name: Columbia Property Trust principal, CEO and Director Nelson Mills

City: New York City 

Years in the industry: 32 

Bisnow: Why is Bisnow’s upcoming San Francisco State of the Market event so important to you and what will you be talking about?

Mills: San Francisco is one of the three gateway U.S. markets in which Columbia’s team and investments are concentrated, and it’s our second-largest market in terms of assets under our management. I will be weighing in on the continued demand for office space, constraints on new office supply, limitations on affordable housing for the local workforce and transportation concerns. 

Growing demand for office space and limited supply are creating a highly competitive environment for investors and driving rents and property prices higher than ever before.

Bisnow: In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue affecting commercial real estate in San Francisco?

Mills: The imbalance of supply and demand in the commercial and residential real estate markets is making a major impact on CRE in San Francisco. While this high demand is potentially lucrative for landlords in the near future, it is forcing employers to consider moving to alternative cities.  

Other factors such as taxes, transportation and various government and societal frictions are making an impact as well, along with broader economic factors like interest rates and recession concerns.

Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?

Mills: I learned to sail 12 years ago, but racing sailboats has become a new challenge that I’ve recently started enjoying.  

The Columbia sailing team competes in venues along the East Coast, from Miami to Marblehead, Massachusetts. I’m also passionate about spending time with family and traveling to new places. 

Bisnow: Finally, if someone reading this wants to do business with you or your company, what's the best way they can reach you?

Mills: Our website at offers detailed contact information for our team and properties, and we can be reached at any of our corporate offices in New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.

Nelson Mills will be speaking about commercial real estate investing in San Francisco at Bisnow’s San Francisco State of the Market event June 20.