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REAL ESTATE: How Do Metro Lines Affect The Office Market?
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How Do Metro Lines Affect The Office Market?

By Michael Hart, Managing Director at JLL Tianjin and Vivian Zhao, Analyst at JLL Research Tianjin

BT 201711 Real estate 03      随着城市进程不断前进的脚步,天津的区域发展和地铁线规划也紧密联系在了一起。天津是我国大陆地区第2个拥有地铁的城市,仅次于北京。地铁1号线于1976年开通,最初的地铁只有4个车站。1984年时扩建至8个,及至2001年关闭重建,最终于2006年重新开放运营。本次重新开放后,1号线共有22个车站。同年,滨海新区也开通了轻轨。此后的十年间,天津市地铁网不断扩大发展。截至2016年末,天津轨道交通运营线路共有5条,包括地铁1、2、3、6号线及9号线(津滨轻轨),线网覆盖10个市辖区,运营里程166千米,共设车站112座。自2017年8月16日起,随着营口道站改造施工完成,各出入口和站内换向通道恢复正常使用,3号线列车恢复正常停站。

      丰富的地铁交通网无疑给市民带来了更大的出行方便,对于每天都需要出门上班的上班族尤其如此。地铁大大影响了办公室地点的选择,尤其在四季分明的天津市,炎热夏季的酷暑和寒冬凌冽的风雪都可以在地铁中“消隐无踪”,在这一优势方面,营口道周边写字楼无疑非常受欢迎。

      另一类好选择是“投资潜力股”——某些正在规划发展的地区虽然尚未有成熟的地铁线路,但是待未来地铁开通后即可成为炙手可热的新商务中心。天津市梅江一带的发展就是一个极佳的例子。6号线开通后,地铁站周边写字楼及购物区到市中心的通勤时间大大缩短,天津梅江会展中心、印力中心写字楼等都受到此利好趋势影响。

      相比于地铁站沿线区域,过去繁华的友谊路、吴家窑乃至南开区的发展则不容乐观。

      让我们回到地铁线给商务出行带来的便利条件:在地铁交通不断发展的同时,城际动车组也在发展自己。你会发现往来于天津的写字楼和北京国贸之间变得更为顺畅,因为从任何一个连通地铁的写字楼都可以方便地到达天津站,从而抵达北京南站,而后再一路乘坐地铁到国贸。不仅北京,京津冀地区的人民生活与商务速度都随着交通网络建设的发展而加快了步伐。

      总体而言,虽然共享单车和日益增长的私家车数量为市民提供了更多出行选择,但地铁依然是最主要的出行方式。相信未来的天津地产业发展依然会受到地铁交通建设的巨大影响。
BT 201711 Real estate 04Tianjin has seen a great deal of development over the past few years including new infrastructure and new real estate. In this article, we explore how the expansion of the subway system is impacting the fortunes of office buildings and specific submarkets or commercial areas and how the subway network may eventually have a much larger impact on the whole Tianjin region and beyond.

Subway Pioneer

Tianjin actually has China’s second oldest subway system, behind only Beijing. Subway Line 1 was opened in 1976 and initially had only four stations and was expanded to eight in 1984. In 2001, it was closed for reconstruction and reopened in 2006 with 22 stations. Importantly the new system still runs along Nanjing Road. Also in 2006, Line 9, the light rail line system in the TEDA area of Binhai was opened, but it didn’t come into the heart of the city and reached only to the western edge of Tianjin. It also didn’t connect with Line 1.
 

Subways systems, like communications platforms benefit from ‘network effect’ meaning the more connections there are, the more valuable they become. So when Tianjin had only two subway lines which didn’t connect, they weren’t very valuable. In fact, the owners of Tianjin International Building apparently lobbied to have their station closed, so when the subway re-opened in 2006, they no longer had a station near their building and at that point, it didn’t appear to matter. However, ten years later Tianjin now has a connected subway network with five lines and 112 stations operational and the network continues to expand. Being connected to the network now matters very much.

BT 201711 Real estate 01Tianjin subway system map, JLL Research

Office Buildings versus Subway Stations
There are three scenarios that we looked at in regards to how office buildings are impacted by subway stations near their project or submarket.
 

Those that have a station

Buildings and submarkets that currently sit on top of a subway station are increasingly in demand. Office users often consider how their staff will get to work and with crowded roads, license plate restrictions, increasing parking fees, hot summers and cold winters, subway stations are a valuable amenity to office tenants. Extra points go to those on important lines like those that connect to the train station or are on transfer stations with access to various lines. Obvious winners include the office buildings around Yingkoudao station which connects Lines 1 and 3 and is only three stations from Tianjin’s main rail station.
 

Those that will get a station

There are a number of office buildings that today are not competing terribly well as new buildings are completed and tenants have their choice of buildings in a variety of district downtown. However, when future subway lines are completed, these buildings will be immediately connected to a system that cuts down on commuting times and links their building to Tianjin’s various train stations and airports – all of which are already on existing subway lines. Currently the Meijiang area may be a nice place to live, but as an office location, it poses serious challenges. However, when Line 6 is extended, two developments near the Meijiang Convention Center, the Meijiang Centre Plaza and the SCPG Center above the Aeon Mall will be much more closely connected to central Tianjin than a number of buildings in Heping and Hexi districts.
 

Those that don’t have and won’t get a station

As the subway network increases and property prices push people further to the edges of the city, being connected to the subway will be nearly a necessity for office owners. There are a few older buildings along Youyi Road and Wujiayao (sometimes called the Middle Ring Road) that will see their fortunes fade because they are not connected to the system, but competing with buildings that are. A few buildings in Nankai district will suffer the same fate.
 

Ridership increases

As of the first half of 2017, the average daily passenger volume and the estimated annual passenger volume reached 950,000 and 340 million respectively. This compares to only 110,000 daily riders ten years ago when there were only 36 stations in use and the lines didn’t connect. The network effect is now very obvious. The data indicates that in 2015, there was a reduction in ridership which we assume was related to the accident in Binhai which shut down Line 9 for a period of time. However, with the line reopening, ridership recovered and has continued to climb.
BT 201711 Real estate 02Tianjin metro average daily passenger volume, Tianjin Statistics Bureau, JLL Research

Subway lines important link in Jing-Jin-Ji

It seems a little absurd at first, but the robust subway network in Tianjin is helping to connect Tianjin’s two urban cores (Central Tianjin and Binhai) as well as cities including Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang and Tangshan. It is now possible to travel from office buildings in Tianjin to office buildings in all of those cities, as long as both buildings are connected to their respective city’s subway stations. As an example we regularly travel between our offices in Tianjin and Beijing’s Guomao area and never need to go outside because of the links between Tianjin Station and Beijing South Station and the fact that they are each connected to the Tianjin and Beijing South stations respectively. We recently traveled to Shijiazhuang and this train station also is well connected to the small but growing subway system. Maybe Jing-Jin-Ji (also called the Capital Economic Circle) is really here.

realFuture Outlook

The continued expansion of Tianjin’s subway network will continue to reinforce the importance of office buildings which are located along the subway system. Although we can’t yet directly correlate rents and proximity to subway stations, we do believe that trends will emerge. It will also help to determine the fortunes of shopping malls with benefits to those on the system and challenges for those who aren’t. And the housing market will follow a similar trend. Properties located near the Tianjin South Train Station or near the airport used to be considered remote, but would now benefit from being connected downtown by a direct subway line. The explosion of shared bike services are helping to link other areas to the subway system, but with Tianjin’s extreme weather, there is no substitute to having a subway station connected to your office building. We in fact now see this as one of the first question that potential office occupiers are asking about and we don’t expect that to change until there are cheap autonomous cars driving around our cities – that is at least a few years away.
 

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