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‘Fast track more speculative office developments’

From a small firm to worldwide real estate heavyweight, Rudolf de Boer, now Managing Director at CBRE, was there every step of the way over the past 25 years. In recent years, the company focussed on bringing together its transaction and consul- tancy services. These days, organizations no longer look at things through just one lens, explains De Boer. At CBRE's large open of ces in Zuidas, work is carried out in project teams that unite various specialities. 'Each year, our rm and our staff become more adept at generating new ideas and putting them into practice', says De Boer.

The name CBRE is synonymous with real estate. But what exactly happens in this beautiful office on a daily basis?
'We do nd ourselves in the 'real estate' business, in the broadest sense of the word. We advise property investors - that is, owners - as well as nanciers and users and supply all the associated consultancy services. Investors who are active in Zuidas, for example, want to gain insight into various market trends and wish to nd out how best to position their property in the market. And we help them do that. On the ip side, you've got the o ce user who needs help nding the right accommodation that ts their organization. Local knowledge is a key factor. That's also why we have opened ve additional o ces where we work with local specialists. Our approach in Zuidas is similar to that. To name a few, here we're closely involved in the WTC, Symphony and Atrium projects, as well as the relocation plans at Loyens & Loe .'

A quarter century at the same company! That's a rarity these days. What has kept you so loyal to CBRE?
'As a student I did a work placement at a company formerly known as Richard Ellis, in Amsterdam, which had around 20 people working there. At the time Richard Ellis was still a boutique rm that had become prominent through its annual participation in large real estate investment transactions. If you look back at my career within CBRE, I started out as a trainee. Over time I scaled the rungs to more senior posts. As the team under my direct management grew, so did my responsibility. People often ask me why I've stayed with one company for so long. My main answer to this is, that I've always been given the freedom to develop myself and my team and to pursue business that I believe will bene t CBRE and our clients. Some people have to prove themselves somewhere else rst, before they can create similar opportunities. CBRE gave me that chance from the start. All along, and through trial and error, I've been given room to exercise my own entrepreneurial spirit. This also ts with the increasing value that's being placed on personal enterprise within corporate organizations nowadays.'

Can you pinpoint the moment where CBRE made the leap to being a major real estate player?
'One of the most de ning changes happened some eight years ago, when we acquired a consultancy division consisting of some 65 people. That gave us an injection of consultancy knowledge about o ce end users. That knowledge is important in our advisory work, also where our investor services are concerned, and has generated a huge value gain for CBRE. Today, we're no longer solely focused on organizing transactions, but also on the necessary knowledge that comes before and after a transaction. The equation of an international background, plus a commitment to setting ourselves apart by stepping o the beaten track and thereby assuming a pioneering role in the real estate sector, has played an instrumental part in how this company has grown. Close internal cooperation is an essential part of that. You can't accomplish that much when working alone. You need each other to achieve the best possible results.'

Does Zuidas have enough office stock to accommodate important international employers?
'The answer to that would be 'no'. Amsterdam has been unbelievably successful at attracting new business in recent years, and existing companies in Amsterdam are growing fast as well. Zuidas has certainly bene ted from that. In the near future, we'll be coming up against a market that has virtually no o ce stock left. That's a rather exceptional situation, one we've not experienced for years. It will take some time for investors and o ce users to assimilate this new reality as it gets closer. Zuidas went through a long period where vacancy levels were upwards of ten per cent. Now, we're verging on a vacancy rate below three per cent, which is expected to fall even further in the coming years. If you want to give businesses room to grow and to get new businesses to locate here, that's not a healthy situation. Looking ahead to the next few years, we're going to see spiking rents. That will be another rst here, but it's unavoidable. Office construction has been in a slump for a long time and new building projects will remain limited during the foreseeable future. Plus, most of those new buildings are already pre-leased anyway. '

How do you and your colleagues at CBRE feel about life here in Zuidas?
'Zuidas is becoming a more integral part of the city, especially now there's more residential housing, retail and restaurants alongside all the o ces. In that sense, Zuidas today is nothing like it was a few years back. That increased activity, along with the facilities that are being created, have produced a dynamic that is really quite exceptional for an area that's still relatively new. Even now, Zuidas can't compete with other larger, international metropolises in terms of scale, but precisely that fact also works in Amsterdam's favour. Most of the clients we work with, and our employees, too, feel that Zuidas is an incredibly dynamic place, a place that's abuzz with a palpable energy. It's a place where I could certainly also picture myself living.'

Looking to the short-term future of the district, what pointers could you give the municipal office and Hello Zuidas?
'I think there is still ground to be gained on the culture and leisure fronts, with cinemas, museums and the like. That would really put Zuidas on the map and generate activity all through the week. We know that the municipality is working on this, but actually getting plans o the ground is going to be a considerable under- taking. To continue developing Zuidas over the coming years, we'll also have to stop pussyfooting around where it comes to expanding Zuidas. My advice now would be to fast-track the construction of more new o ce and residential buildings, leaving any negative past experiences for what they were, and look ahead to the future. Zuidas is a district with huge potential and, going forward, our organization is excited to continue contributing to this growth.'