Adaptive, Not Reactive: How to Be Prepared as Markets Shift

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With @DavidStaples

Maintaining a diverse portfolio of project experience is comprised of two key elements—a team with expertise and an accurate read of the ever-changing markets. Over the 26+ years that Staples has been in business, we’ve adapted to demand within a wide range of market sectors including multi-family housing, office, hotel & hospitality, retail & restaurant, industrial, education, healthcare, agricultural, aviation, and culture & entertainment. It can be said in almost any industry, there are rises and falls in demand, whether anticipated or unexpected. One perfect example of this in recent years was the onset of the global pandemic, where a heavy shift away from high-traffic areas meant aviation, culture & entertainment, restaurants, and offices suddenly became less optimal spaces to occupy and, therefore, build. So where does that leave us now, and how does experience and know-how across this diverse group of markets help to keep us prepared for the future?

What’s trending?

Multifamily Housing

In Southern California, multifamily housing projects are popping up left and right. Officially considered to be in a “housing crisis”, large upticks of multifamily complexes are common whether they be privately or publicly funded. According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, the last ten years has averaged less than 80,000 new homes each year, while the actual number of homes needed annually is 180,000. As demand of the communities call for more housing, local and state legislature are taking steps to ensure affordable housing is a part of that equation. One recent state-led initiative is Project Homekey, providing funding to various nonprofits to enable construction of more housing to support their community improvement programs. Market-rate developments are also required to offer a certain percentage of affordable units proportionate to the amount of market-rate they’re building—an effort by local municipalities to ease the housing crisis on all fronts.

Higher Education

As an issue penetrating multiple markets, the lack of affordable housing options close to campus is affecting students. Studies show that students are forgoing a place to live to receive an education, and the state is working to remedy that. As a result, there are instances such as the recent award of $62 million to Ventura Community College to build on-campus, affordable housing for students.

In addition to addressing housing, higher education has received a lot of funding that will go towards student services and academic spaces. According to a recent article by Building Design and Construction, the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) reports that “84% of institutions planned to update or adapt existing facilities over the next year, 80% planned to make major updates to campus infrastructure, and 88% intend to update meeting room technologies for more virtual learning engagements.” As the ripple effect of the pandemic begins to fade, , institutions are still working to ensure that facilities are easily adaptable to accommodate student and faculty needs now and for years to come.

HospitalitySushi restaurant at hotel in Montecito

On the whole, the urge to travel remains strong and growth is expected to continue throughout the year. In addition to personal travel, “business travel is also poised for recovery as companies ramp up their travel budgets” (Ernst & Young). Work events such as trade shows and conferences are returning to full swing, and families are back to traveling on school breaks. Hotels should anticipate a continued uptick in demand and rates of stay.

Hotels that hunkered down during the pandemic, rather than being sold, took opportunity for renovations or site improvements that might have been more complicated in a fully operational hotel. Another common trend in more recent years, boutique style hotels have become much more popular, with prominent brands making more of an effort to tailor their aesthetic to the surrounding area and desired clientele. This produces a need for experienced and skilled craftsman to ensure that the structure is as visually appealing as it is functional.


It’s a common perception that Southern California is running out of space, and that’s truly the case when it comes to industrial development, particularly in the Inland Empire region. The majority of land has been purchased, leaving less than one percent remaining of vacant industrial space in the eastern Inland Empire, according to a recent report by NAI Capital. As a result of the ever-present demand for warehouse and distribution space, companies are seeking available land even further east, looking to neighboring states for solutions. That being said, tenants of existing industrial space will need those structures tailored to suit their business, making for more tenant improvements and additions to existing structures.


We’re all familiar with the acronym RTO (Return to Office), and how major corporations are handling the shift and juggling employee peace of mind with productivity levels. Nowadays, tenants are working to adapt their currently owned spaces more than ever. Increasing amenities, redesigning office spaces, and giving people more of a reason to come into the office and stay comfortable doing it has been a major push by employers to get employees back into the office. Specialty solutions to small spaces within the traditional office is the name of the game.

The overarching theme across market sectors is the desire for more. More thoughtful designs, more skillful execution, more adaptable spaces, and more creative approaches to the traditional multi-family buildings, offices, or restaurants. If there’s one thing that society has learned within the past few years, it’s to expect the unexpected, and people have come to recognize the need to adapt in order to stay relevant.

One essential way to ensure we remain adaptable is by maintaining a diverse staff with a range of different skillsets. Our project teams are tailored to meet the needs of individual projects, with a detailed level of familiarity in all aspects. It’s easy to assemble a team based on experience and project type whether it be an industrial tilt-up or a small tenant improvement. Being responsive to the changes in the market and dedicating time to researching that insight ahead of time allows us to stay ahead of the curve and craft the optimum project team across our key market sectors.

Market sectors will rise and fall with the economic winds and what is the hot focus today may be in hibernation tomorrow.  But where the attention is shifting to is always where our focus remains. Creative alternatives to the traditional retail space, educational facility, or healthcare center are the points worth focusing on now to prepare for the future, and with a diverse portfolio and workforce, preemptive adaptivity rather than reactivity is possible.

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