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Millennial Tenants Reinventing Oakland Office Space

The Millennial workforce is forever changing how office space is used in Oakland. Developers, brokers and investors shared tenant trends at our recent Oakland Future of Office event.


Panelists discussed what makes Oakland attractive to young tenants and how developers and landlords are re-creating office space to best serve them. Panelists, above, included moderator Wendel Rosen partner Todd Williams, Excolo Construction Services' Bob Farman, Truebeck Construction's Sean Truesdale, SCB's Jay Longo, Page & Turnbull's Peter Birkholz and Turner Construction's Dan Wheeler.


Younger tenants are increasingly turning toward Oakland because of the urban appeal. SCB principal Jay Longo, above, said Oakland is desirable because people want to live close to work, the city has available land and there’s a “hip vibe.”

Jay said his firm is working toward providing a variety of suites and its new high-rises will have three different floor plates in one building that will accommodate large floor plates for tech, midsize for a traditional office user and a smaller size for a high-net-worth client.

“Mixed-use is coming back,” Jay said. “Single-use office buildings had [their] day, but we’re looking for residential over office at various markets over the country.”


Page & Turnbull principal Peter Birkholz, above left with Roberts Electric owner and president Dan Pittock, said Oakland has a “wonderful diversity, BART, AC Transit and great transit infrastructure and these wonderful iconic buildings.”

Peter's firm is working to maintain ground-floor retail that was lost when demand shrunk. Bringing in upper level office areas could create a 24-hour environment.

Page & Turnbull also is working on creating more preservation incentives and federal rehab tax credits for restoration projects, especially those involving historical buildings. He said his firm’s goal is to “revitalize and enhance historical buildings and keep the old and work within it.”


Truebeck Construction co-founder Sean Truesdale, above, said the types of tenants Oakland attracts are those that are like “hermit crabs and can fit into any space they want.” Many like the open feel that reveals the “old bones of a building and makes the company feel like a youthful startup.”


Turner Construction VP and GM Dan Wheeler said he’s seeing a lot of repurposing of old office buildings. Because of demands from Millennials who like to gather and work in teams, there’s been a move toward “open kitchens that spill onto the office floor to create a much more inviting atmosphere and bring the office together on a much more regular basis."

“There is just an open gathering of offices with a variety of ergonomic couches and sit-stand work stations and high-tech conference rooms,” Dan said.


The Swig Co EVP Tomas Schoenberg said tenants want more of an open, collaborative and well-lit space. His firm is working with LiquidSpace through a pilot program to provide more flexible space for companies to lease for a week or a month.

Tomas said his firm has greatly benefited from Oakland’s office market. He’s been able to lease the last remaining space in the Kaiser building and was successful in leasing the Lakefield building at 17th Street to an ad firm, which liked the high-character building and felt being in Oakland would better attract the younger talent it needed for its customers.


Excolo Construction Services principal Bob Farman, above with Excolo Construction Services relationship director Wendy Goodman and Mike Mast, said a lot of recent tenant improvements are adding amenities, opening up and dressing up the space.

He said demand has been high for small tenant improvements and his firm is working within 10-week to 12-week time frames.