Caleb Parker.Jacob Loftus

#WORKBOLD podcast: Jacob Loftus, General Projects

Forward-thinking developer, Jacob Loftus, founder and CEO of London-based General Projects, joins Bold founder, Caleb Parker, to discuss how his company is reinventing assets to be customer focused and create long-term value.

Loftus tells the story behind repositioning a 150,000 sq ft asset with Space-as-a-Service, then trading that asset for nearly £200m. He follows that up with his advice for investors who want SPaaS in their assets.

The two also have a chat about remote work and the role the office will play in the future, and whether social media should play a bigger role in commercial real estate.

Questions in this episode

  1. Your Twitter bio says you design buildings for the “New Economy”. What does this mean to you?
  2. You have a focus on reinventing assets. Why not start from scratch?
  3. You repositioned an asset with Space-as-a-Service, then traded it for £183M. Did having a Space-as-a-Service footprint in the building negatively affect building valuation?
  4. Do you expect Space-as-a-Service to play a big part in your future developments?
  5. Will you spin up a new business unit to operate the Space-as-a-Service, or partner with an operating brand?
  6. General Projects is active on Twitter and Instagram, you’re personally active on Twitter – do you think social media should play a bigger role in commercial real estate?

Takeaways

  • Commercial Real Estate is now a customer-focused business. We are no longer just providers of physical space if we want to stay competitive. We must also provide services and experience
  • Value is created through the development process, but long-term value is created after completion through curation of amenities and community
  • 50% of the global workforce are millennials
  • In five years 75% of the global workforce will be millennials
  • Commercial real estate needs to develop assets around the needs and wants of the end user
  • There is an expectation for the workplace to be more engaging, experiential and service driven than the past
  • Corporates are now focused on creating workplace environments to compete for talent
  • There is no need for people to commute to office every day, but the office is important for companies to create culture
  • Remote work is great, but as humans we are social creatures
  • Repositioning assets versus building from scratch saves 50-60% of the carbon footprint
  • A large Space-as-a-Service footprint did not negatively impact the valuation of a marque asset in central London
  • Rent reviews should be phased out just like long-term leases
  • CRE needs a valuation methodology to recognise buildings which are operated as Space-as-a-Service as a core asset
  • Having hundreds of customers on flexible terms is less risky than having a few tenants on long leases…if you’re good at customer service.

About Jacob Loftus

Jacob Loftus is founder and CEO of General Projects, a design-led real estate developer that creates experiential and sustainable buildings, designed around the needs of the new economy. With a focus on the changing nature of the home and the workplace, General Projects collaborates with architects, designers, creatives and tech experts to deliver environments that inspire people and connect communities.

Since its inception in 2016, the business has led the reinvention of over 900,000 sq ft of real estate across London. Most notably this includes the reinvention of the iconic Grade-II listed One Poultry, transformed into the first Creative HQ in the heart of the City. Ongoing projects include; Technique, an 80,000 sq ft media-style office building in Clerkenwell built entirely from cross laminated timber; the reactivation of the former Woolworth’s HQ on Marylebone Road; Storybox, a former MI5 bunker in Vauxhall being transformed into a new experiential leisure hub; Expressway, an SME workspace & industrial complex in Silvertown and most recently Twickenham Film Studios.

Prior to founding General Projects in 2016, Loftus spent seven years at Resolution Property as principal and subsequently head of UK. Whilst at Resolution, Loftus acquired and developed over 1.5m sq ft of real estate. Jacob pioneered Resolution’s push into design-led creative real estate, including leading the award-winning development of Alphabeta in Shoreditch. Loftus holds an MSc in Real Estate from London Southbank University and a BA in International Relations from Boston.

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