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EXCLUSIVE: CBRE GI Unveils New Amenity Program

CBRE Global Investors is preparing to roll out A&B, a hospitality concept that combines shared space with other amenities and technologies. The concept will be in 20 office buildings in major U.S. markets by the end of the year.

Rendering of the A&B at 150 North Michigan Ave. in Chicago

A&B, which derives its name from "above and beyond," is an amenity platform with aspects of the hospitality industry and artificial intelligence-driven services, and it will be available to everyone in the building, said Robert Perry, head of the CBRE Strategic Partners U.S. fund series. 

It will leverage many coworking concepts, though A&B isn’t itself a coworking platform.

"Coworking companies are tenants in our buildings that sublease space," Perry said. "Above & Beyond will be offered to tenants in our buildings simply for being tenants in our buildings."

The program focuses on what is at the heart of what makes coworking successful.

"Like co-work, our concept has a physical component — the space — and an amenity component. That's what you think about when you think about WeWork, for example: cool space and interesting amenities."

A&B builds on the company's existing amenity program for office buildings, 5-Star Worldwide, Perry said. It will transform high-traffic office building “pass through” areas into congregation spaces. In a typical office building, lobbies will be redeveloped into A&B, though in some cases — such as when the lobby is too small — the concept will be on a second floor. 

A&B will redevelop the space into a place where office workers from different companies can gather and work in a shared environment, much like coworking space. 

The size of the space, and its exact amenity configuration, will depend on the building, but A&B will be between 5K SF and 9K SF. There will also be outdoor space, a popular amenity among office users.

The A&B concept will also include CBRE’s newly launched Host mobile app, which connects users to building and neighborhood amenities, wayfinding and services tailored for each A&B workplace. 

Also, the app's AI-driven “recommendation engine” learns over time to deliver personalized information to workers.

The concept isn't totally dependent on its app. Each A&B will also feature professionals with hospitality training to curate experiences for tenants, Perry said. They will undertake such tasks as event planning, restaurant and travel booking, off-site gift purchases and overseeing building-wide tenant socials.

Rendering of the A&B at the Collective at Concourse in Atlanta

The concept will be rolled out in office buildings nationwide, including 150 North Michigan Ave. in Chicago, The Warner in Washington, D.C., 8750 NorthPark Central and Mockingbird Station in Dallas, Stadium Towers in Anaheim, California, and The Collective at Concourse in Atlanta.

The first A&B locations will launch in April. 

The move comes at a time when office landlords are in a rush to offer coworking space and other new amenities. There are almost 18,000 coworking spaces worldwide, accommodating about 1.7 million workers,  according to a late 2018 report by Knight Frank. 

Over half (55%) of the corporate real estate leaders surveyed for that report said flexibility is its primary appeal. That is because flexibility is key to dealing with digital disruption challenges and shortened business planning horizons.

CBRE characterizes the upgrade to A&B as a way to keep its buildings competitive for tenants at a time when employment is tight and companies are eager to keep workers satisfied.

A 2018 study by Kingsley Associates for CBRE found that intent to renew is 11% higher for tenants in office buildings with CBRE Global Investors’ current amenity program, compared to the Kingsley Index, a benchmark for tenant satisfaction in real estate. 

"Our tenants grade us materially higher than the market in terms of satisfaction, and in terms of intent to renew," Perry said. He said A&B aims to build on that.

In addition to new A&B installations, CBRE will be transitioning several existing 5-Star Worldwide Centers to become A&B locations. CBRE Global Investors has about $106B worth of commercial real estate assets under management.

CORRECTION, APRIL 2, 10:20 A.M. ETAn earlier version of this story construed A&B as a coworking platform. It is an amenities platform. The article has been updated.