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Q&A: Zeller Realty Group’s Bob Six On Meeting The Needs Of Modern Office Tenants

Atlanta's 100 Peachtree St., a Wired Certified Gold property

When the 93-year-old Wrigley Building underwent a renovation in 2013, owner Zeller Realty Group did more than preserve the landmarked facade. In addition to new retail tenants and high-end amenities, the upgrade included becoming Wired Certified Gold.  

Bisnow sat down with ZRG principal and Chief Operating Officer Bob Six to talk about how the company is upgrading its portfolio to meet the needs of modern office tenants, and how certifications can signal to prospective tenants that a building is able to meet their demands. 

Atlanta's Resurgens Plaza, where Wired Certification is in progress

Bisnow: Zeller Realty Group's portfolio includes properties in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver and Minneapolis. As these markets mature as tech hubs, how important will it be for CRE to adapt to serving this new class of tenant?

Six: The expanded use of technology is ubiquitous in every business today now more than ever. Maximizing connectivity is job one for all landlords if they are to truly be a leader in the marketplace. We are interested in creating the best possible environment for connectivity for all our tenants, which maximizes Zeller Realty Group’s competitive edge.

Bisnow: Zeller Realty Group has also achieved Wired Certification in many of these markets and was recognized as an official WiredScore launch partner in Atlanta last month. Has marketing assets, including 100 Peachtree St. in Atlanta and 311 South Wacker in Chicago, as best-in-class tech assets become part of your leasing and asset management strategy?

Six: Yes, we consciously pursue a “first mover” strategy whenever we feel that certification will differentiate our assets in the marketplace with end users. As an example, ZRG was one of the first CRE owners to have all our Class-A assets LEED Certified. Wired Certification clearly demonstrates, from ZRG’s perspective, our commitment to the evolution of the marketplace as it relates to a high level of connectivity for tenants’ operations, which translates into high productivity for the end user. Wired Certification is the marketplace’s new standard of approval for demonstrating a high level of connectivity.

Bisnow: What amenities are you seeing drive the most value in these markets? 

Six: Tenant lounges with refreshment centers and concierges on-site; conference centers with various room sizes that provide the flexibility to host meetings as small as eight to 10 people in a boardroom setting or as large as 150 to 200 people, with catering support facilities to support these operations; fitness centers with expanded activity rooms — think spin, yoga and stretching classes with instructors on site and access to personal trainers; outdoor decks; game rooms and golf simulators; upgraded food services; bike hubs with showers and repair facilities on-site; nap pods; in-building cellphone boosters for better connectivity; and robust WiFi in common areas. 

Chicago's 311 South Wacker Drive, a Wired Certified Gold property

Bisnow: When you are renovating a landmark property like the Wrigley Building in Chicago, what are you prioritizing to ensure the building meets the requirements of the modern tenant? 

Six: We ensured adequate and upgraded power, connectivity, HVAC to accommodate higher-density tenants, and added all the current and relevant amenities to serve the evolution in tenant occupancy. We also renovated and restored first-floor building lobbies with similar attention to detail in all the common areas to bring back the classic beauty of all the original detail of the Wrigley Building while providing a contemporary update to the building. ZRG also improved energy efficiency through new windows and upgraded environmental controls, security and retail. We also renovated a range of spec suites, with some furnished, to demonstrate and engage with the prospect of all the possibilities and flexibility of space at the Wrigley Building. More specifically, we built out seven floors of spec suites to show the marketplace the variety of different layouts, build-outs and finishes that could be accomplished at the Wrigley Building.

Bisnow: What do you predict will be the biggest differentiation for office tenants in the next three to five years?

Six: The need for buildings to continue to evolve and invest to stay relevant is real. The amenities arms race is here to stay. Even though the open collaborative office environment is also here to stay, we will see the pendulum swing back nominally to more private spaces. WeWork-type office users are here to stay because they provide an adaptable product for mainstream corporations to nimbly evolve to changing opportunities in the marketplace by adding or shedding space as needed, without having to make major investments or affect their balance sheets. There is a trend toward providing a healthy environment for employees by supporting individual and community health through improvements to building design and operations. Fitwel Certification and WELL Building Certification are the two leading certification programs that will likely see the most play as we move forward with this new initiative. 

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