by Sascha Wagner, IIDA CID LEED AP
During economic downturns, competition among building owners for office tenants usually becomes fierce. It’s a function of simple math: More properties are competing for fewer tenants. Down-cycles in the market can be an opportunity for building owners to take advantage of lower construction costs and improve their properties with the aim of attracting high quality tenants. However, the challenge is to make the right moves to meet the needs of the leasing market, taking into account the building’s location, amenities, floor plans, as well as its competitors. While tenants may be looking for serious bargains in the current economic climate, the choice is never just about money—they are also looking for the right home for their company. Repositioning is about giving a building a lease on life – creating a new identity that will give tenants the quality and cachet they’re looking for.
Lack of maintenance can leave any commercial building looking worse for wear. But even well-designed and maintained buildings can begin to appear dated over time. Take the case of San Francisco’s Embarcadero Center West at 275 Battery Street. Designed by John Portman in the 1980s as an extension of Embarcadero Center, the high-rise’s public spaces had lost some of their original elegance with the passage of time. Recent vacancies on multiple floors created opportunities for the owners to lease large swaths of space. However, a bit of a makeover was required. Making the building attractive to contemporary tenants—with the legal profession particularly in mind—involved remodeling the lobby, elevator cabs, and elevator lobbies to give the building a modern, unified visual identity.
Part Two of “Repositioning the Commercial Office Building” will look at some specific repositionings in New York.
Sascha Wagner, IIDA CID LEED AP is a Principal at Huntsman Architectural Group and has assisted building owners and real estate developers with building repositioning projects in the Bay Area.