Reinventing the Office Icons of the 80’s

  • Jun 24, 2016

By Chad Schieber, Director of Client Services

This post is another in an ongoing series inspired by insights from thought leaders in the communities where we work. 

In the last major real estate up-cycle in the 1980s world class buildings were built in many downtowns and were considered trophy assets for cities. Many of these buildings are now seeing their tenants move to newer areas, causing some to wonder about the future of these iconic buildings.

I recently attended a panel discussion hosted by Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr on the topic. Panelists discussed the future of these buildings in Dallas, but these learnings could be transferred to many other areas of the country.

In Dallas specifically, many companies are moving their headquarters to a newer area known as Uptown, just north of the city center, and sometimes paying twice the rent. This area could be fully leased by the end of the year and then tenants may once again look to downtown.

The same is happening in other cities. The good news for downtowns is that rents are typically cheaper and price may once again drive tenants to the city center.

Attracting tenants to downtown properties requires a strategic approach. The panelists I heard from were up for the challenge and are using these key drivers:

  • Lobbies: Many tenants are updating lobbies to give them a more contemporary first impression. Good design is good for business and an updated design can set the tone for the next iteration of the building’s story. An updated lobby can allow for activities to take place in the space which can breathe life back into the building. Many are also adding coffee shops that function as an early morning stop and then stay open for happy hour as tenants get off work.
  • Parking: It’s key to have enough parking for today, but tenants should also consider the building in 20 years to determine if all the parking on-hand today will really be needed. This is especially true as public transportation becomes more robust.
  • Bringing the outside in: Buildings with minimal division between the inside an outside are seen as more dynamic. Plus a more transparent building can attract passersbys.

No matter whether its downtown or uptown tenants agree on what makes a building great:

  • Location, location, location
  • Amenities
  • Parking
  • Proximity to public transportation.
  • The quality of the surrounding neighborhood
  • Exterior signage