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For This New Union Market Office, Wellness Was A Priority From The Start

A rendering of Signal House

Developers have been rushing to upgrade their HVAC systems, install air filtration devices and find new ways to incorporate more fresh air into buildings to keep tenants safe and healthy.

But for some developers, promoting tenant wellness is as simple as following the plans they have had in place for some time.

“Wellness is a critical component of all of our buildings,” said Oliver Carr, CEO of Carr Properties. “We’ve been focused on delivering the best possible environment for our clients, and that means providing top-notch fitness centers, healthy food and beverage options and great air quality, both before, during and after the pandemic.” 

Carr Properties’ newest building is Signal House, a 10-story, 228K SF office building in the heart of Washington D.C.’s Union Market neighborhood. The goal, Carr said, is to create an office building unlike any other in the city, something that would appeal to the creative class, foster a sense of community and, above all else, promote wellness. 

A rendering of the lobby at Signal House

Long before the coronavirus pandemic struck, the plan for Signal House was to install a central Distributed Outside Air HVAC system that provides 100% outside air to the building and can perform daily building flush-outs. This has proven to be especially important in the last few months, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that office building owners increase the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible to help keep airborne viruses at bay.

“The approach of introducing 100% outside air at Signal House represents a best-in-class approach to air quality that few, if any, other office buildings in the D.C. market are offering,” Carr Properties Chief Development Officer Austen Holderness said. “Air quality is important, and studies have suggested that improved air quality leads to improved productivity.”

Other wellness-focused amenities at Signal House include a modern fitness center, 12-foot ceilings and windows to maximize natural light, a bike room with 100 spaces, meditation software and soundproofing in conference rooms, and over 12K SF of outdoor space, including five large terraces and an outdoor rooftop event area. 

A rendering of the fitness center at Signal House

Holderness said that in response to the pandemic, Carr Properties has been working to make Signal House a hands-free building. This means tenants have touchless access to all elevators and major common spaces throughout the building through an app on their phone. The developers also added UV lights to clean the air, temperature screeners in the lobby and improved air filtration systems.

He added that the building will achieve LEED Gold, Fitwel certification and a Well Health Safety Rating for its green, sustainable practices. One example is the solar array on the roof that will generate 63 megawatt hours of electricity annually. Other amenities include gender-inclusive locker rooms and rooftop honey beehives, which will help increase the local bee population.    

Carr said the company chose to build Signal House in the Union Market area because he believes in the vitality of the neighborhood and that it has the potential to be as successful at attracting commercial tenants as other new D.C. office hubs, like The Wharf.  

Even during uncertain times, the Washington, D.C., office market is showing signs of strength. The metro area ranked No. 1 on CBRE’s list of cities with the most office tech leasing activity in Q2 2020, with tech office leasing in the region growing by 55% compared to Q2 2019.

A rendering of the rooftop bar at Signal House

Holderness believes that the heart of the city is moving east and that the younger workforce is looking for more opportunities in areas like Union Market. 

Signal House, he said, is perfectly situated for companies looking to attract a younger talent pool, due to the building’s unique amenities and its location. Signal House is a few steps from numerous local hot spots including Union Market, La Cosecha, Cotton & Reed distillery, Ian McCabe Studio, St. Anselm, Coconut Club and more.

“Our amenities were designed to foster a connection between our customers and this dynamic community,” Holderness said. “There’s a rooftop catering kitchen and bar to partner with neighborhood chefs for events, the street-level retail will flow into the lobby, and we’re working with a local artist to design art for the building soffits. If you want to engage with the creative workers who are flocking to this neighborhood, this is the building for you.” 

This feature was produced in collaboration between the Bisnow Branded Content Studio and Carr Properties. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.