Marco Clarijs (right) and Michael Blokland (left) have both been with leading real estate consultancy CBRE for nearly ten years, so they’ve had front-row seats to all the changes happening in RCD. While they’re happy with how Rotterdam is doing now, they’re also concerned about the office market, which they say is lagging behind due to limited high-quality availability. We met up with Marco and Michael for coffee in their office
You’ve been working at CBRE for almost a decade now. How have you seen RCD change in recent years?
Michael: “I started working in this area at a time when we were dealing with 25% vacancy in the office market. Those spaces couldn’t stay empty, of course, but finding tenants was really quite difficult at that time.” Marco: “If you look at business cycles, you have seven fat years and seven lean years, and after 2007 Rotterdam had its fair share of lean years. RCD was like a ghost town, with vacant buildings everywhere. Today, almost everything has been let – even despite the pandemic.”
What are RCD’s strengths compared to other business districts?
Marco: “The combination of different functions here is the number one selling point, as far as I’m concerned. When you walk out of the station here, you see offices, apartment buildings, shops and all kinds of other facilities. Everything is mixed together.” Michael: “But there’s also still room for improvement there, I think, which the city council is pushing for as well. Weena and Delftsestraat could be a little more lively. Two new buildings, Tree House and The Modernist, will be a big draw in the future.”
Do you feel like your presence here makes a difference in the district?
Marco: “We have a twelve-year track record when it comes to bringing together supply and demand. In the end, we’re ‘just’ consultants – or commercial real estate brokers, depending on who you ask – but we’ve truly managed to create a vision for this district and to take on a leading role in the area’s development. We’re on excellent terms with the city council, regularly publish studies and relevant data, and I feel like we’ve really found our footing here within a relatively short period of time.” Michael: “And that’s just at the area level. If you look at the level of individual buildings, you’d be hard-pressed to find a building we haven’t been involved with in one way or another.
What is your main focus right now at CBRE Rotterdam?
Marco: “We want to strengthen the multidisciplinary nature of our company. We’ve been working hard for years to shake off that ‘broker’ label I just mentioned. Of course, we still do transactions, but we’re building more and more services around that to really become a fully integrated real estate advisor.” Michael: “Data plays an important role in that as well, and we reap the benefits of the data we collect and analyse every day.”
Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of RCD Magazine?
Marco: “Rotterdam is doing really well right now, and we’re making huge strides in the residential market. But the overall quality of the office market is still trailing behind. One of the effects of the pandemic we’re dealing with is the assumption people have that we’ll need less office space. But based on our data and research, we don’t predict a large vacancy in this market. On the contrary, Weena will be fully let again by the end of the year.” Michael: “That’s actually a big risk for the city, and it would be a shame of course if large companies were unable to find a place to set up shop here. That’s something we really need to keep an eye on together.”
Hobbies: Playing sports and travelling
Favourite spot in RCD: Biergarten
Hobbies: spending time with Ted (my almost-1-year-old son), playing football and cycling
Favourite spot in RCD: Biergarten