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Office Space

Can you provide an overview of how the pandemic has impacted the business landscape?
In terms of the business climate, I think that Palm Beach County is one of the very few areas of the U.S. that has seen an uptick in interest for businesses that want to move out of dense areas. So in many ways, COVID has created a prime opportunity for South Florida’s real estate community. Assuming that we have the vaccine this year, I think that companies that are interested represent a mixed bag.

How so?
We’re getting interest in companies from the Northeast looking to come and occupy our class-A office space, which is great, because you never want to be sitting with a lot of vacancies. At the same time, we have companies that are evaluating their leases and expirations and are trying to determine whether they are going to lease the same amount of space, which impacts our economy and our real estate community. However, our office market is fairly hot with a decent number of financial service firms in Boston, Greenwich and New York looking at the area. So that’s helping, with a few 50,000-square-foot clients snooping around. 

And how is the migration from other states impacting the legal landscape here?
Everybody should have a person on staff who knows how to legally domicile and understands the tax laws, because companies want to know how they and their employees can take advantage of the state’s tax laws. And they need real estate attorneys for the transactions. 

In terms of domicile, you have to spend six months plus one day in-state, right?
Correct. That’s one of the biggest asks that we have and there are firms that really specialize in that because while it sounds easy—six months and a day—I’ve seen hiccups that clients have experienced where they may have held a bar mitzvah in Manhattan but they claimed they were legally domiciled here. Simple triggers like that can spark the IRS to take a look, so we really want to make sure that they have the resources that they need. We use our members to assemble accountants and lawyers who can answer questions about Florida’s tax environment. 

Whether new arrivals or longtime locals, are people going to want to work in offices to the extent that they did a year ago?
Absolutely. Initially, when COVID struck and we were mandated to stay at home, I would say that a lot of CEOs at the time, thought, wow, this is really working out for us. And I have to admit, I was one of those CEOs who was adamantly opposed to working from home, but then when I didn’t have a choice, I thought it was really working. But recently I’ve sat on panels—I’ve listened to architects and real estate experts—and what we’re all hearing is that is very few companies will get rid of offices altogether. 

What’s their reasoning?
They don’t like the barking dogs, they don’t like the distractions, they don’t like the muting or the faces not showing up on the Zoom calls. Now CEOs are saying, Maybe I don’t need that large of a footprint, but I definitely want to have that office environment. They say that when the vaccine is here, they will come back to some sort of a hybrid model, if not everybody in person.

Are you hearing about air ventilation and purification system upgrades in offices?
The Business Development Board is courting a company that does manufacture air purification systems and is going to start up as a result of COVID. And they will go into hospitals, office buildings, apartment complexes and big institutions.

Do you think employers will be more flexible about the workday, where there’s maybe not a mad rush at 9 a.m.?
Yes, I do. I think they’ll be more flexible, and I think many of them—and this is based on my conversations with local architects—are looking at pandemic-proofing their office environments, so the gatherings in the kitchens and at the coffee stations and open cubicles might diminish. If you look at one of the biggest office buildings going up in West Palm Beach right now, Jeff Greene’s One West Palm, he’s asked for revisions to the office plan to include balconies to allow some fresh air in. Companies want to create an environment of safety and comfort.

Photos by Larry Wood

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.