0 CRES Stats Report | Week Ending December 11

CRES Stats Report | Week Ending December 11

  • 27 spaces hit the market as available in the subject area in the last 7 days, equating to 226,000 SF which is above the recent range;
  • 21 spaces (over 1,000 SF) came off the market equating to 174,000 SF;
  • The availability rate in Boston ticked up again slightly this week at 15,600,000 SF;
  • The question now is when the availability rate will “top out”, with the effects of the COVID therapies versus leases ending (and those tenants renewing, downsizing, going virtual or relocating out of the downtown)?

0 Landlords and commercial tenants negotiate delicate deals with high stakes

By Tim Logan and Janelle Nanos | Boston Globe 

It’s a tale of two cafes, and a story that’s playing out all over town.

Nir Caspi owns Cafe Landwer, with locations in Cleveland Circle and Audubon Circle. Both opened in the last three years on the ground floors of new residential buildings. Both were doing well serving fine coffee, kebabs, and Israeli breakfast specialties before COVID-19, Caspi said, but business has suffered since the virus brought the economy to a crashing halt. He is confident one will survive. The other has been in limbo.

That’s largely because Caspi’s two landlords have taken different approaches to the crisis.

It is a delicate dance, with high stakes for all. Over the last four months, many restaurants and retailers have been engaged in seemingly endless negotiations with the owners of the buildings they occupy. Rent typically accounts for an enormous chunk of tenants’ fixed expenses, and with revenue scarce, they can’t pay it. But landlords have bills to pay, too — including mortgages, and property taxes — and some are accountable to investors. For them, it’s a matter of weighing a desire to be flexible with tenants against the need to meet financial obligations.

The fate of an entire generation of small businesses could be at stake in this fraught balance, the kind of places that collectively employ thousands of people and often help form the fabric of their neighborhoods.

“It can be a really touchy thing,” said Ann Earhart, co-owner of retail brokerage firm Boston Urban Partners. “There’s no one-size-fits-all here.”

Just ask Caspi.

At the Cleveland Circle cafe, his landlord is National Development, a prominent Boston builder that developed the South End’s Ink Block and other big projects that blend uses such as housing and retail. When the state urged people to stay home and ordered nonessential businesses to close, National came to him right away, Caspi saidIt offered a deal that allowed him to pay rent based on a percentage of sales instead of a fixed amount. He kept the cafe open as a result and has been taking a steady stream of orders throughout the pandemic.

“From day one they’ve been reaching out and asking us how we’re doing and how they can collaborate,” he said. “They’re taking the initiative to help me from their side and not waiting for me to beg for mercy.”

Caspi said his dealings with his landlord at Audubon Circle, which is a small, family-run real estate operation, were more challenging. When the shutdown began, he tried opening for takeout, but made only a few hundred dollars a day because the college students who frequented the cafe had departed. So he shut down for several weeks until outdoor dining in Massachusetts resumed. All the while, talks with the landlord, Chestnut Hill-based developer Dan Yu, were tougher, and more intermittent than those with National Development. Caspi said Yu encouraged him to apply for funding from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Caspi did, and received some money. But as the months dragged on, Caspi worried about finding terms they could both agree on.

Last week, Caspi said, he finally reached a tentative agreement with Yu, who did not return messages from the Globe.

“I can understand he has a mortgage and he wants to pay the mortgage as well,” Caspi said. “We need to find the right way for both of us.

These types of talks are taking place all over Greater Boston as the pandemic and related economic crisis drag on. With their futures intertwined like never before, tenants and landlords are trying to sort out a changed relationship on the fly. Brokers and others involved in these rent discussions say the variables involved in reaching an arrangement are many.

How successful was the retailer before the crisis? How leveraged is the landlord? Is the store in a larger office or apartment building — where retail rent is a smaller piece of the bottom line ― or is it a storefront location where rent revenue is critical? Most important, and hardest to know: When might business return to normal?

“It’s so tenant specific. It’s really landlord specific, too, in terms of what a decision will be,” said Whitney Gallivan, managing director of retail at Boston Realty Advisors. “No one knows how long this might last.”

Some landlords, especially larger ones with deep pockets, are leveraging their size and resources to help tenants ride out the downturn.

WS Development, which owns shopping centers such as The Street in Chestnut Hill and Marketstreet in Lynnfield, is coaching vendors on how to build their own marketing campaigns. It also launched “Storefront Stories,” a social media campaign that highlights business owners and workers as their stores reopen.

“It’s a peek into their lives,” said Lindsay Binnette, director of field marketing at WS. “A way for people to share what they’re excited about in reopening.”

Samuels & Associates, which in recent years has redeveloped a huge swath of the Fenway neighborhood, is converting plazas into outdoor seating for restaurants in its buildings, and helping tenants navigate new permitting processes at City Hall. It has three people working full-time on lease negotiations with 70 or 80 commercial tenants, said president Joel Sklar. The goal is to reach deals that make sense for everyone — including Samuels and its lenders.

“These are really complicated discussions,” he said. “It’s got to be balanced and it’s got to be a partnership. That’s what we keep hitting on over and over.”

Samuels also operates several million square feet of office and apartment buildings in the Fenway, so while retail rents are important, they’re a relatively small piece of the firm’s financial pie. The company used to own more traditional shopping plazas — it built Dorchester’s South Bay in the 1990s — and Sklar acknowledges the math for the large mixed-use projects it oversees these days is quite different.

“We probably have more flexibility than a shopping center that’s 100 percent retail and probably has 80 or 90 percent of its tenants asking for rent relief,” Sklar said. “That’s a really big issue in the retail world, and not one with an easy solution.”

Indeed, many landlords aren’t being as flexible. About 50 percent of members of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts said in recent surveys that their landlords have been unwilling to adjust rents. Given the state of the economy, that’s an unrealistic stance, said RAM president Jon Hurst. Even national retail chains only paid 68 percent of their rent in June, according to real estate data firm Datex Property Solutions.

“There needs to be a repricing,” he said, meaning lower monthly payments.

Tenants, especially major ones, can also play hardball. National chains such as The Cheesecake Factory and Starbucks have demanded rent breaks, or halted payments altogether during the pandemic. The Gap Inc., stopped paying rent when many of its mall stores closed in the spring, prompting lawsuits from two of the nation’s biggest mall operators — Simon Properties and Brookfield Property Partners — seeking tens of millions of dollars.

But many tenants and landlords say having a good working relationship — ideally, one that predates the pandemic and will outlast it — is essential to figuring out how to survive. John Pepper, cofounder of Boston-based burrito chain Boloco, said he has spoken for hours with landlords at his seven restaurants, trying to navigate a new world in which both parties’ business models have been upended. He’s noticed one consistent thread.

“The smaller the landlord, the more personal the conversation,” Pepper said. “We’re in a place where we need to figure this out together.”

That has also been Charlie Talanian’s experience. The longtime Newbury Street landlord, whose tenant base includes hair salons and small clothing stores hit hard by the coronavirus shutdowns, has logged a lot of time on the phone, trying to work out rent agreements. These are small-business people, Talanian said, just like him. Most have never skipped a rent payment, and they don’t want to now ― they just need time to rebound.

“So it’s, ‘Can you pay half? Can you pay a quarter?‘ ” Talanian said. “We’re all in this together and let’s assess the damage when we get to the other side. I can’t be successful if I don’t have tenants.”

0 The Future of Office Amidst Covid-19


Moderated by Wil Catlin (Boston Realty Advisors) with a star-studded panel, including Michael Maturo (RXR Realty); Matthew Friedman (Rockwood Capital); Arthur Jones (Principal Real Estate Investors); and Robert Deckey (Invesco US)


iGlobal Forum Live introduces a brand-new virtual event, providing you with key insights into the Offices market.

This 1-hour discussion is the perfect opportunity to delve into this key commercial real estate sector with industry leaders, both from asset management and acquisition standpoints, enabling you to get solutions you can take back and use in real time.

Key topics include:

  • Flex-space and Space-As-A-Service feel highly relevant, yet how can they survive new health requirements?
  • Will tenants downsize and relocate to minimize costs? Or will they create grand offices that are branding exercises to draw people back together?
  • What are asset management teams doing to protect portfolios in this C-19 environment?
  • What solutions are available for elevators?
  • How much will operating costs increase?
  • How are sector benchmarks or metrics shifting to meet the new Covid-19 reality?
  • In future, will an employer’s location matter less, and if so, what does that mean for the office sector?

Register HERE.

0 Boston launches $6M fund for business reopenings

By   | Boston Business Journal | May 27, 2020

Boston officials have pledged $6 million in grants to support small businesses where employees must work in close proximity with either coworkers or customers — such as hair salons and barber shops, retail stores, gyms and food service establishments — to provide personal protective equipment so those businesses can reopen.

Companies with fewer than 15 employees can apply for up to $2,000 for materials such as masks and safety partitions for customers and employees. The funding will be available in three rounds: first, for personal services including barber shops and hair salons; second, for retail, restaurants, nail salons, day spas, waxing and laser services; and third, for bars, arts and entertainment venues and fitness businesses.

Applications open Thursday at 5:00 p.m. at boston.gov/reopen-fund.

“When our small businesses are ready and able to open, we want our business owners and workers to have access to the appropriate resources to stay safe,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement. “These additional grants will help level the playing field for Boston’s small businesses and support both our public health and economic equity priorities.”

At a press conference on Tuesday, Walsh stressed that employees should continue to work from home if possible. Workers should not feel pressured to come into work if they don’t feel safe, he said.

“We have to do our part to minimize the risk of another surge,” he said. “It’s not the time to let up.”

0 Re-Imagine Housing Affordability in a Post-Pandemic Boston











Like many cities today, Boston has a shortage of affordable housing. Along with that, the Boston population is expanding significantly faster than housing can be built. What will this mean Bostantonians long term?

Solutions for limited space, reducing project expenses and expediting the preconstruction process all come down to the initial design phase.

Design leaders are approaching policy, incorporating technology to expedite permitting and utilizing space to build smaller units at volume more than every.

Join Bisnow May 26 for a deep dive into how leaders and designers plan to usher in a new and more affordable era through design in Boston CRE.

There will be plenty of time for questions.

If you can’t attend live, register. We will be sending the recording to all registrants.

During this webinar we will discuss:

–What innovative design solutions can reduce housing expenses?

–How do high-density housing models present new opportunities for housing expenses in Boston today?

–How changes in design policy can facilitate new support systems in the inner city?

–What are new ways to approach the limitations of land and build space in downtown Boston?

–How technology is being used to change the design process and eliminate delays that increase development cost?

Register HERE.

0 Study: Rents will fall at downtown office towers

Boston office rents will be affected, but not in the near term. According to CoStar Group, the economic downturn of 2008 started the gradual drop in rents with the bottom of the market occurring in 2010.

By Tim Logan | Boston Globe | May 6, 2020

Rents for office space in downtown Boston could fall sharply this year as companies lay off employees and reassess how and where they work amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report out Wednesday.

Estimates from Moody’s Analytics project a 12 percent drop in office rents in the city, one of the five steepest declines in the country, as the impact of the pandemic sweeps through the economy, and particularly through dense downtown business districts like Boston’s.

It would mark the end of a long run-up in rents and demand for office space in central Boston, though the study’s author, Victor Canalog, noted a 12 percent drop would be softer than the crashes of the early 1990s and 2001, and about what the region endured amid the broad economic collapse in 2008 and 2009.

In that context — and given the cratering economy and job market — things could look a lot worse, he said.

“This is the world we live in right now,” said Canalog, who is head of commercial real estate economics at Moody’s. “If we say ‘It’s going to be about as bad as 2008 and 2009,’ that’s actually a good thing.”

But Canalog’s report points to some troubling longer-term trends for cities such as Boston, which thrive on their busy business districts. If employers embrace work-from-home technology, they may ultimately decide they need less office space in general. If, at the same time, they decide they need to spread out workers who do come into the office, it may make sense to relocate to suburban office parks where rents are typically far lower.

“If it’s true that we’re going to reduce footprint, then there are going to be winners and losers,” Canalog said. “A company might not move from Boston to North Dakota. There are good reasons they want to be near Boston. But they might move out of downtown Boston to someplace 20 miles away, where they can get many of the same things.”

But those are longer-term decisions. At the moment, seven weeks into a public health emergency that has shut down big swaths of the region’s economy, the impact on Boston’s office market has been muted.

Few new leases have been signed, in part due to the complications of touring and inspecting space, and also because of the broader economic uncertainty. Several large deals in downtown office towers reportedly nearing completion have been put on hold, or scuttled, while companies reassess the market.

But no companies have publicly backed away from signed deals to move in the next couple of years. Some tenants, particularly in tech and life sciences, continue to look for space. And developers with large towers under construction say they still plan to deliver the buildings, fully leased, if perhaps a bit delayed by construction shutdowns.

So far, building owners have been reluctant to lower rents to lure tenants, said Mark Hickey, director of market analytics in the Boston office of Costar, a real estate data firm. Instead they’re offering more concessions or longer-term leases.

But it appears they could face competition from a growing inventory of sublease space, particularly from tech companies that in recent years gobbled up large blocks of office space for future growth, which they may no longer need and may put out for lease at a discount. The real estate firm Colliers estimates there was 1.6 million square feet of sublease space on the market at the end of April, more than Boston had during the real estate crash of 2009.

Even aside from questions of supply and demand, this experience is likely to change how companies view and use office space, said Aaron Jodka, managing director of research at the Boston office of the real estate firm Colliers. The question is how.

“Do tenants need more space because of distancing requirements? Or less space, because more people are working from home?” he said. “I don’t know. It’s too soon to tell.”

0 Boston CRE Doyen Ron Druker: “We’ll Come Back From This”

By Dees Stribling | Bisnow | May 13, 2020

“What keeps you up at night?” a Bisnow webinar audience member asked Ron Druker, Boston commercial real estate luminary and president of The Druker Co.

“Right now, my dog keeps me up at night,” Druker said. “The answer is — I can only control what I can control. Our real estate is good real estate, and even in the depths of all the other recessions, we’ve come back. We’ll come back from this.”

Bisnow’s Boston webinar, A Discussion With Druker Co. President Ron Druker, covered a lot of ground on Tuesday: occupancy and rent collections at the company’s varied portfolio, the history of U.S. economic dislocations going back to World War I, the 1918 Spanish Flu and what landlords should do — and should not do — to meet post-pandemic standards, and his thoughts on the crisis.

“It’s important that we recognize everyone that’s putting themselves on the line, whether it’s truck drivers, UPS, FedEx, nurses, doctors — all the people who are up front,” Druker said. “I think we’re going to be at this for a while.”

The Druker family has been part of Boston real estate for more than a century. Ron Druker’s grandfather, John, got the Drukers into the business nearly 120 years ago, developing the Hotel Kenmore and the Braemore Hotel in Kenmore Square. His son Bertram followed, building the Colonnade Hotel on Huntington Avenue and affordable housing in various parts of Massachusetts.

Ron Druker has carried on the family development business. In the 1980s, his Heritage on the Garden condos were an important part of Back Bay’s resurgence, and in the 2000s, the Atelier 505 development was part of the South End’s revitalization. Most recently, Druker Co.’s 350 Boylston development received approval from the Boston Planning & Development Agency.

Druker, along with co-moderator Wil Catlin of Boston Realty Advisors, spoke about the day some years ago when a startup with big plans wanted to lease an entire building in the Druker Co. portfolio.

The deal gave Druker pause. For one thing, the tenant improvement allowance was about $200/SF, with $70/SF for the lobby and $130/SF for the rest of the space. As an older building, Druker Co. would have also had to spend money on the HVAC system. Those expenses weren’t the worst of it, however. Druker was worried about the company’s long-term staying power.

“I didn’t like the credit, and as it turns out, I’d rather be lucky than good, because they are where they are now,” Druker said.

He nixed the deal. The would-be tenant: WeWork. “They create single-purpose space,” Druker said. “So I guess we were lucky in looking at it the way we did at the time.”

In a less real estate-related anecdote, Druker also mentioned the time he met songwriter and record producer Mark Ronson at a small restaurant in Tokyo, and another time he talked with Keith Richards for two-and-a-half hours at a resort bar in Turks and Caicos. “Two old grandfathers sat and talked about life,” Druker said.

Druker said that in his company’s portfolio, rent payment during the pandemic has varied according to property type. Residential payments have been about 99%, while office payments are in the mid-90% range. Retail, on the other hand, has been at about 50%.

“We’re working with our retail tenants,” he said. “There are smaller retail tenants, some of them real mom-and-pop operations who pay rent predicated on how they did the month before, and we’re working with them. There are other more nationals, and we’re working with them as well.”

With some of the smaller tenants, Druker Co. has specifically tried to help them avail themselves of some of the public subsidies on offer.

“Because we’re not highly leveraged, our portfolio is in good shape, but it’s work,” Druker said. “I’m spending 12 hours a day at my desk. Most of the people I talk to are working harder [than before].”

Regarding the 240K SF project at 350 Boylston, Druker said that his company is making proposals via Zoom, and so far has received two requests for proposals that the company has responded to.

“There’s interest in the building,” Druker said. “The advantage that we have now is that we’re taking steps to make the building more hygienic.”

With only one to four tenants, he said, 350 Boylston will be relatively simple to enter and leave, and that ought to be an advantage for the building as well, he said.

On the other hand, it is possible to go overboard with building modifications in response to the pandemic.

“The protocols relative to cleanliness and social distancing … make sense today,” Druker said. “But to make major physical alterations to a building for something that … will be short term, we don’t believe makes sense.”

0 Even After Your Office Reopens, You May Not Be Going Back

By Paul Singer | WGBH | May 4, 2020

Whenever non-essential offices reopen, here’s the first thing to remember: About two-thirds of us probably won’t be going back in. At least not for a while.

Gov. Charlie Baker has assembled a team to begin talking about reopening the economy, and of course everybody is anxious to get back to work. But it turns out that reopening the economy probably means only reopening offices to a very limited stream of workers for the foreseeable future.

For most offices, “the target occupancy is probably going to be no more than 30 percent,” said Arlyn Voglemann in the Boston office of the global design firm Gensler. “And people will achieve that in many different ways — who knows how long it will last.”

Gensler is working with building owners and tenants around the region to figure out the best way for people to return to work. And for many people, the best way to return may be not to return just yet.

The whole goal is keeping your distance. And while renovating or redesigning office spaces is a longer term project, in the short term, existing office space is likely to be used very differently, Vogelmann said. She cited conference rooms as an example.

“If a conference room has six or fewer seats, you’ll only have one person in there,” she said. “If it’s larger than that, you can have a couple of people in there, but no more than 10 occupants in any space at one time.”

Staff may be switched to shifts so all the desks in an office are not filled at the same time. And people are not going to be sharing keyboards, telephones or other technology for a while, Vogelmann said. Even if people are working in shifts, they are very unlikely to be sharing desk space.

“If you’re phasing your work approach, and you’re only going to come in on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, you don’t want Bobby sitting at your desk Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Patrick Schmidt, principal and VP at Avison Young, a commercial real estate firm. “You’re not going to trust whoever your cleaning person is, no matter what the protocols are, that they’ve properly sanitized the workstation. So everyone’s going to want their own spot.”

Peter Conway of the real estate firm Lincoln Property Company puts it this way: “Now the idea of shared is so toxic — I don’t know if it’s the best word to say it — but shared almost equals risk in a lot of people’s eyes.”

Conway said this may be a serious problem for WeWork and similar co-working companies that have seen huge growth in the Boston market over the past few years. These companies rent space in bulk from office buildings and then convert it into smaller spaces that offer tenants more flexibility. This allows a small company — or a small unit of a big company — to sign a short-term lease just for a desk or a room and share the kitchen and conference rooms with other tenants.

Shared workspaces have gone from basically nothing to 2.8 million square feet of office space in Boston over the past decade, according to research by Colliers International, a real estate services firm. Aaron Jodka, Colliers’ research director, said the profit margin for many co-working operators is based on reducing the square footage allocated to each worker in the space or renting each desk multiple times under the theory that workers will not all be in the office at the same time. But with concerns about infection now at the forefront, “the idea of packing in as many people as you can is not safe,” he said.

But Tim Rowe, the founder of CIC, which operates several shared office spaces in the Boston area, said he thinks coronavirus is not a threat to shared offices. In fact, he said, it’s the opposite. He thinks the success of the massive “work-from-home” experiment of the past few months will increase demand for shared office spaces in the near future.

After a few months of having most employees work from home, Rowe said, “companies will say, ‘Gee, instead of having 100 people in a traditional office, I’m going to have a shared office and I’ll have 10 to 20 people that come in. Everyone else will work at home.'”

For those who do return to the office, it is going to be a very different experience.

Rowe says CIC is taking numerous steps to ensure the safety of their offices when they reopen, including asking everyone to check their temperature and confirm they do not have symptoms before they come to work. They are also going hands-free where possible.

“We’re converting our buildings to be touchless.” Rowe said. “We don’t think touch is a major vector, but we know that people are concerned about it and we’re not sure. So why not do that? So that means that we’ve found a way for every single thing, you know, you need to do in the office to be something you don’t have to touch with your hand. “

That means everything from touchless faucets to doors that can be opened with your foot to handing out a little wands that can be used to push elevator buttons.

Every conversation about the future of office space seems to return to the question of the elevator. Jim Roosevelt of the law firm Verill helped the Pioneer Institute assemble a “return to office” checklist for employers and building managers, and the elevator is high on that checklist.

“You can’t really socially distance more than a couple of people in an elevator,” Roosevelt said. “I’m not even sure you can do a couple in most elevators; in some elevators you’ve gotta do one. Even before they get in the elevator, there is the question of, ‘is it safe to have lots of people touching the elevator buttons?'”

That means there is likely to be some kind of traffic control in the elevator lobby, like a security guard limiting riders, making sure everyone is wearing a mask and creating safely-distanced waiting lines at busy times.

But the best traffic control strategy is to just work from home.

Nevertheless, even with concerns about contagion and the inconvenience of waiting on an elevator queue, people are itching to return to an office environment, said Wil Catlin, managing director of Boston Realty Advisors. What has been lost in the work-from-home experiment, Catlin said, has been “the organic hand-off of information that occurs from person to person, department to department, because they’re co-habitating, coexisting underneath one roof in one office.” When employees are scattered, he added, “everything is scripted. Everything. You’ve got to schedule a Zoom call. You’ve got to text. You can’t just like walk down the hall and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a question about this.'”

That’s why Vogelmann says one of the long-term effects of the pandemic may be a move to more collaborative workspaces in office suites, and fewer closed doors.

“I used to go into my office five days a week,” Vogelmann said. “Let’s just say I’m going to shift to two or three days a week and I’m going to work from home for the remainder of that time. I’m going to do more kind of individual work from home or stuff that I don’t need my full team there for. And we’re going to prioritize our time when we’re in the office to get that group going.”

0 Tenants Returning to Boston Offices Will Find A Strange New World

By Dees Stribling | Bisnow | April 27, 2020

Most Boston commercial space is now empty, but the time is approaching when many or most workers return, perhaps in shifts or only a few days a week.

Property managers are already trying to sort out the transition, speakers on Bisnow’s health and safety in property management webinar Thursday said. The details of bringing people back into commercial space in an orderly and safe way aren’t clear. One thing is clear: It won’t be easy.

Most space in Downtown and in Cambridge is empty, with commercial occupancy below 5%, though occupancy is higher than that in a few pockets, such as life science space, Lincoln Property Co. Vice President of Property Management Scott Rickards said.

“We’re planning for re-occupancy at some point after May 4,” Rickards said. “Could be sooner, we hope. We’re fielding an increasing amount of questions every day from tenants about what they can expect.”

Personal responsibility is going to be critically important to making re-occupancy work, Rickards said.

“We all know people who go to work sick, and that’s what we really can’t have,” he said. “Every company has to be responsible for its employees, and every individual responsible for themselves.”

The focus now, EBI Consulting Director of Environmental Health & Safety Karla King said, is how company policies can evolve to address the future re-entry. Some companies have specific issues, such as those needing to deal with COVID-19 cases at their buildings, while others are simply trying to devise forward-looking planning.

“We’re working closely with some of our clients, evaluating current housekeeping and programs and getting an understanding of high-touch and common spaces,” King said.

In the case of a building with a suspected COVID-19 case, each instance is evaluated based on when it happened and how isolated the space is, King said. Then her company works with the client to identify or evaluate a cleaning company, looking closely at its cleaning products and protocols.

Even without a COVID-19 case, tenants who plan to return need to formulate detailed plans, King said.

“What PPE are people going to be bringing or wearing to the office, mandated by state or federal officials, or by their own choice?” she said. “Where are they going to dispose of their PPE?”

Boston Realty Advisors Managing Principal Wil Catlin, who moderated the webinar, asked whether some landlords will have stricter requirements regarding PPE than others.

“At some level, there needs to be baseline standards,” he said.

PPE use will vary according to the use of the space and how much common space there is, King said, adding that common areas and high-touch spaces are going to be the biggest areas of concern for property managers.

“That’s one thing to communicate to tenants: the importance of everyone controlling their space,” King said.

Property managers can’t be responsible for the cleanliness of every specific desk or other personal area, King said, since it is largely out of their control. Instead, they will be more concerned with common spaces, such as gyms, cafeterias, restrooms and reception areas.

Catlin also asked about security procedures in a post-pandemic environment, specifically how buildings will handle front desks and check-ins. Technology is a longer-term answer to security, Rickards said, and some Class-A buildings probably already have the tech in place to go touchless.

“There are some apps that work with security systems so that your phone has a unique identity, and you can walk into the building, and it knows your app,” Rickards said.

But most Boston real estate doesn’t have that kind of sophistication yet, he said. In many small lobbies, social distancing won’t even be possible.

“So there will be a lot of workarounds, and that’s going to extend the need for PPE,” Rickards said. “You’re going to need to have a mask on, and maybe gloves. Can we come up with a way to show an ID so that no one else touches it? It might be a rudimentary as the security guard doing all the writing. It’s going to be complicated.”