What Do Tenants Want?
Ah, the eternal real estate question. But while it used to be largely the province of architects, in today's sluggish office market it’s also obsessed over by owners and developers. That's why we’re excited to be holding our Future of Office Summit, March 24 at the DC Convention Center. We asked some panelists for a sneak preview.
Meridian principal Gary Block, snapped in his Bethesda office yesterday, says “location, location, location” has been replaced by “experience, experience, experience.” As in environment, atmosphere. Same as in resi. It's a Millennial thing, but now seeping broadly into the culture.
JBG leasing chief Quinn Rounsaville, posing yesterday with the JBG lion, says his firm has had great success doing spec suites, because so many people are happy to have all the work already done even if it's not exactly what they might have designed on their own. Plus, JBG offers two dollars in allowance for further customization for every lease year you sign for. You can use it for reconfiguration or wiring or whatever you like.
The suites are typically 1,500 to 3k SF. They've leased dozens and are showing about 20 more currently at some of their properties like 1025 Jefferson and the Foundry Building. JBG is open about terms on a dedicated website, and uses a 13-page short form for transactions. Quinn says one of the big benefits for both the tenant and JBG, as a result, is saving valuable time. They believe it’s an appealing solution for a variety of associations, tech and media firms, and service providers.
Hickok Cole architectural trendspotter Yolanda Cole, in her G’Town office yesterday (with "facade studies" of Alexandria's Robinson Terminal North), says the “collisions” and interactions celebrated in the open space era are terrific, but she sees a growing desire for “focus space.” Not necessarily the privacy of traditional office, but some medium between that and unfettered openness.
The challenge of figuring out what tenants want is so intriguing, it was the subject of a winning application to the firm’s in-house “iLab scholarship” program. Each year, HCA gives two employees each 80 hours of time to pursue self-proposed research projects, and this year one of the grants awarded was for creating a new approach to co-working environments.