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How Connectivity Can Strengthen Commercial Real Estate Developments

When Kim Butler looks outside HALL Park on a fall day, she sees people running, biking and walking on the development’s 3 miles of trails, even holding meetings along the paths or at outdoor spaces that include WiFi connectivity.

The Frisco office park dedicated a third of its 162 acres to green space when it was developed.

Commercial real estate development connectivity can mean different things to different people, but it generally includes a digital infrastructure such as wired connections of fiber or copper, WiFi and in-building cellular. It can refer to connectivity based on architectural design that weaves together indoor and outdoor spaces, or connectivity of office dwellers to nearby amenities such as restaurants and fitness centers. 

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HALL Park, Frisco

“We’ve worked heavily to connect interiors and exteriors,” said Butler, director of leasing for HALL Park, which is hosting Bisnow’s Platinum Corridor conference Oct. 4. Buildings use glass to visually make that connection, and outdoor spaces encourage workers get some fresh air.

“People who can see nature actually are more productive and have better quality of work lives; there are studies that measure this. People who are able to get out into nature have an even higher level of productivity,” Butler said.

Executive development firm Future Workplace, which interviewed 1,614 people earlier this year, says over 50% of respondents said natural light and views of the outdoors were their most important office perks, ahead of on-site cafeterias, fitness centers, medical care and child care.    

HALL Park is also working to connect its tenants to nearby establishments via a pilot program using driverless cars.

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Drive.ai's Andrew Ng and Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney

Don Lepard, Frisco site lead for drive.ai, said the California-based startup approached Frisco for a pilot because of the city’s leadership in embracing innovative traffic solutions. The city formed the Frisco Transportation Management Association earlier this year. The partnership with the Denton County Transportation Authority, Frisco Station Partners, HALL Group, The Star and the city focuses on finding traffic solutions such as improving walkability, ride-sharing and introducing new technologies. 

The driverless pilot program began July 30 and will end Jan. 1. It uses driverless vans to shuttle workers at HALL Park to The Star to access amenities such as restaurants. Initial data shows the drive.ai is making about 15 trips per day between the two locations with vans caring an average of 1.8 people per trip, Lepard said.

“We are doing a lot of surveys with the riders. Not only, ‘Hey, did you like the quality of the car?” but ‘Tell us what you want out of the service.’ While we are finding that The Star is a great location, some people are wanting to go to different locations. That means people are really looking at this as a viable means of transit.”

The TMA announcement about the driverless car pilot followed an earlier announcement that Uber Elevate, Bell Helicopter and real estate developer Hillwood were partnering to develop a pilot-less air taxi service by 2023 that would fly between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Frisco Station. 

The service would use battery-powered drone helicopters that take off and land vertically from “vertiports” at each location.

Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said mobility innovation is a top priority for the city council this year as it wants to be on the leading edge of technology as Frisco commercial and residential real estate growth expands quickly.

“We are a young city that is building out much of our infrastructure today, and we know these technologies are evolving every single day, and we feel like we need to be on the leading edge,” Cheney said. “We are future-proofing our infrastructure.”

So far, the driverless car pilot has been well-received by the public, he said.

“We are waiting on official numbers but anecdotally, the usage has been much higher than anticipated,” Cheney said. “Overall, it’s been very positive.”

Butler, Lepard and Cheney will be among the speakers at Bisnow’s Oct. 4 Platinum Corridor conference at HALL Park. Attendees will learn about commercial real estate trends occurring along the North Dallas Tollway.