May 13, 2015

Creative Office Hits the 'Burbs

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For office space, there's no going back to the days of cubicles. "It's important to meet the needs of firms who are looking for office spaces that appeal to a younger employee base," Keystone Property Group president Bill Glazer tells us.

The younger employee base is largely accustomed to stimulating, multifaceted workplaces, Bill says. This includes communal spaces and amenities such as exercise facilities and cafes, in addition to the building's technical infrastructure—and the trend isn't confined to downtowns. Recently Keystone inked a lease with Live Nation Worldwide to relocate its regional HQ at One Presidential Boulevard in Bala Cynwyd, which Bill calls "an affirmation of the improvements we've made to the space."

Above all, the goal is to create an atmosphere of newness and modernity in an office building that promotes energy in the workplace, Bill says. Live Nation Worldwide is the company formed by the merger of Live Nation, an events promoter, and Ticketmaster, the event ticket purveyor. It will occupy about 12k SF of the 133k SF building. Newmark Grubb Knight Frank's Neil Brazitis, Sid Smith and Chris Mongeluzo repped Live Nation in the deal, while Keystone was represented in-house by Scott Paymer.

NAI Mertz EVP Zena Charokopos, an office specialist in the company's Bucks County office, tells us that in the current climate, office layouts are just as important as location. "While short commutes and surrounding amenities are certainly important to company owners and employees alike in site selection, equally important is that once you enter your workspace, you feel comfortable and want to stay," she says. Zena (right) is snapped with colleagues Julie Kronfeld and Rebecca Ting.

More building owners are repositioning their facilities to offer well-designed offices and workspaces with a lot of natural light and on-site amenities to create a positive working environment, Zena notes. "When done correctly, a firm's office both reflects and strengthens its corporate culture." Recently Congoleum Corp tapped NAI Mertz's Jeff Licht and Fred Meyer to sell its 1M SF former industrial complex, which is on 65 acres in Hamilton Township in Mercer County. Among other possibilities, Zena says, it would make good creative office space, perhaps as a component of mixed-use. (It also happens to be near The Grounds for Sculpture, a 42-acre sculpture park, a creative amenity not too many sites have).

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Are We Exclusive? That Depends on the Words We Use

Exclusive use in a lease is valuable to a big chain or a mom-and-pop. In a recent case, the court held that restrictions on “competition between products among Shops” did not extend beyond the first floor of a student center's food court without express language that “Shops” included the building's other floors. This reading crippled a coffee shop's business when a competitor opened upstairs. The upstairs tenant also received permission from the university to accept campus ID/debit cards for coffee purchases—a perk not granted to the downstairs tenant. Since students were required to have meal plans, they carried spending cash on their cards for food and drinks and often opted to swipe their cards for coffee upstairs. In this coffee war, imprecise wording in the lease proved a costly reminder of the significance of the words we use.

Garth G. Hoyt is a shareholder at McCausland Keen & Buckman, where he practices in the litigation department. For more information on this Bisnow partner, contact Garth at ghoyt@mkbattorneys.com.

The views expressed here do not constitute legal advice; parties to real estate transactions should seek legal counsel.

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