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The Value Of Art In Commercial Real Estate

A salon-style collection of framed art graces a wall of The Ramble Hotel in RiNo.

Savvy developers know that curated public art adds value to commercial real estate assets whether it is an office building, hotel or multifamily property, so they are increasingly turning to companies like Denver-based NINE dot ARTS to find the right pieces. 

The company has curated the art for Denver projects such as The Ramble Hotel, Dairy Block, St. Joseph Hospital, the Colorado Convention Center and The Crawford Hotel at Denver Union Station. But it has also worked for developers across the country on projects such as the Hotel Commonwealth in Boston, Juxt Apartments in Seattle and Hilton Brooklyn in New York. 

“On average, about half of our projects or more are outside the state,” NINE dot ARTS head of business development Chris Roth said. “We have work in 34 states across the country, as well as several international projects.”

Roth studied art history at Fordham University and has worked in nonprofit fundraising for arts organizations and museums. Other NINE dot ARTS staffers have backgrounds in studio art.

A 2013 report by the British Council for Offices said 61% of workers believe artwork inspires them to think and work more creatively. A study by ARTIQ, in conjunction with Zurich Insurance Group, found that displaying art in the workplace increased perceived productivity by 14.3% compared with a control group that had no art visible from their workstations.

Artwork also is an important component in the hospitality world. BMC Investments CEO Matt Joblon, who developed the Moxy and Halcyon hotels in Cherry Creek, said the artwork probably didn't contribute to the price Rockbridge Capital paid for the Halcyon in March, but it does make a huge difference in the guest experience, which translates into repeat customers who continue to spend money at the hotel. 

"That, in turn, results in [a] better financial result, which impacts the sale," Joblon said. "If we had no art in the building, but had the exact same financials, I believe the buyer would have paid the same price. However, I think the art helped with the customer experience, which helped with performance."

The alley at Dairy Block has a vibrant display of art.

CBRE Vice President Hilary Barnett, who helps clients reposition their assets, said art helps to create an identity for a building and an environment that encourages people to spend time there. She said exterior artwork like the murals found in RiNo is becoming increasingly important. 

"When architecture or landscaping don't do enough, art is a great option to make a parking garage a little more attractive," Barnett said. "It creates a place, creates a brand and can revitalize a city block."

The process of choosing artwork for a project starts with developing an art vision for the project. NINE dot ARTS works with the client and its branding team, interior designer and architect to gather information up front that will help determine how to elevate the project in a visual way through art, Roth said. NINE dot ARTS also helps its clients determine a budget and the hierarchy of the locations where art should be installed.

The front desk at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver

“You don’t spend the same amount on the piece behind the front desk as you do the piece in the bathroom,” Roth said. “You look at heavily trafficked areas and what’s most visible to people.”

Roth said the earlier NINE dot ARTS is brought into a project, the better. While a panicked developer who forgot to do anything about art may call a month before a project is set to open, planning ahead makes every installation go more smoothly. In the Dairy Block alley, for example, the 300-pound milk can could not have been installed on the side of the building unless the building was designed to handle the load. Dairy Block has a high concentration of retail shops on Blake and Wazee streets, as well as in the alley behind the Maven Hotel and Milk Market. 

Hotel Commonwealth in Boston

“It’s not always as simple as putting a couple of holes in the wall and hanging a framed picture,” Roth said. 

While NINE dot ARTS suggests artists from across the country to its clients, it is not a gallery that represents artists to individual collectors.

“We intentionally set up our business to take the approach that we work on behalf of our clients and keep very open relationships with our artists,” Roth said. “We can work with any artist here in Denver, around Colorado and across the country.”

Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah, Ga.

The company finds its artists through online research and networking in the art world. It also has its dotfolio platform, an online tool that allows artists to submit their portfolios for consideration of corporate buyers. 

“Having a national network of artists helps us bring in local artists on any project we’re working on,” Roth said. “It makes each individual project customized and tailored. If you’re staying in a hotel room in Austin, Texas, you want the art to feel like you’re staying in Austin, Texas. People are very conscientious of being authentic to an area.”