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How Arlington’s Top Buildings Are Rethinking The Post-Pandemic Commute

Real-time transit displays in Central Place Tower in Arlington, Virginia.

The ongoing development and distribution of vaccines has buoyed hopes for commercial real estate owners looking for a strong return of employees to the workplace. However, the shift away from remote work will present obstacles for building managers and owners to overcome even beyond their building premises.

Along with the uncertainty of when workers will return to the physical office space en masse, there is also the question of exactly who will return and what method of transportation they will rely on for their commute. Providing safe, reliable and sustainable transportation options to and from the office can not only help workers return more quickly, but can also provide for strong building performance in the future. 

“As commercial buildings plan for their tenants’ return to the workspace, it is imperative for building owners and developers to understand innovative transportation options that are going to support their tenant’s new commute habits, impact their bottom line and carry their assets into the post-pandemic world,” Arlington Transportation Partners Business Development Manager Dagmawi Alemayehu said.

For years, Arlington Transportation Partners has encouraged commercial real estate owners in the Arlington, Virginia, area to enhance sustainable transportation options for their tenants. ATP’s Champions program recognizes commercial properties across a myriad of industries that maximize employee access while minimizing environmental impact. As the CRE industry braces for the post-pandemic shift from virtual work to traditional in-office attendance, properties can draw inspiration from current ATP Champions and embrace today’s top transportation trends.

Real-Time Transit Displays and Tech

Developed by JBG Smith, Central Place Tower currently stands as the tallest building on the Rosslyn skyline. Its 31 stories feature dining, retail, event and office space, as well as open green space in the outdoor plaza. Central Place has earned the distinction as the only commercial building to receive ATP's Platinum Level Champion certification in 2020 thanks in part to its investment in real-time transit displays.

These displays are conveniently stationed near building exits and provide tenants with at-a-glance transportation information, as well as building announcements. These displays are also accessible via employee computers to ensure all tenants have access to this information before they physically leave the space.

Secure bicycle storage lockers within Waterview Office Towers, Arlington, Virginia.

Geo-Fenced Ride-Sharing

It's simple to commute flexibly and car-free in Northern Virginia, but sometimes business travel demands the use of a car. The Transwestern team at 3001 and 3003 Washington Blvd., an ATP Gold Level Champion, purchased geo-fenced Lyft codes for a tenant's employees to easily get to meetings at the Pentagon for free. These codes only work for rides starting or ending at locations designated by the building team. This gave employees the peace of mind to get work done during the day without having to give up their sustainable commutes.

Fully Functional Bike Facilities

More urban dwellers are choosing active transportation and are arriving to work by bike or on foot.

Waterview Office Towers, a 647K SF Class-A office building managed by JLL, offers cyclists the opportunity to secure their rides in either exterior bike parking or in an indoor bike room. There, commuters can park their bikes in a controlled-access space, make minor repairs and lock their belongings away while they shower and prepare for the workday. To promote this amenity, the building management team holds bike tune-up events to get tenants comfortable with the idea of biking to work. 

The property, which achieved Gold Level Champion certification, also features a docking station for employees to park rented scooters. This gives scooter commuters a place to park safely, while also corralling scooters, preventing them from scattering on sidewalks.

Nestlé's building in Rosslyn in Arlington, Virginia.

Planning for Sustainable Post-Pandemic Commuting Options

Integrating technology into a property that enhances transportation options and fosters tenant happiness can increase a building’s value. Many properties can immediately cater to their tenants’ needs by creating more pedestrian pathways and dedicating safe, secure space for bicycle or scooter storage. 

Developers and property owners could wait until tenants return to the building to consider these enhancements, but Alemayehu believes that this could negatively impact both tenant happiness and the property’s bottom line. Instead, the current absence of tenants provides an opportunity to develop these amenities and strengthen the value of the building.

“As commute modes and technology continue to evolve, building owners and developers must understand these innovative transportation options that are going to encourage and support their tenant’s commutes well into the future,” Alemayehu said.

This article was produced in collaboration between Arlington Transportation Partners and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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