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Cooler Look and Feel Adopted by New York Office Towers


Today, many businesses, especially fast-growing technology and media companies, want to work in an environment that has a cooler look and feel. To accommodate growing demand, a large number of property owners and landlords are making big changes to ensure that older buildings in off-beat neighborhoods have unique appeal.

Eager to turn away from the more traditional corporate environment associated with towering skyscrapers, companies are starting to lean toward older buildings located in out-of-the-way neighborhoods. Not only is the cost of rent much lower but there is a very special character associated with these buildings.

The shift in preference has not been overlooked by landlords who recognize the opportunity being presented. For years, the corporate environment consisted of lavish board rooms, beautifully polished granite lobbies, and rich mahogany wood. However, a lot of companies are now interested in something different, to include reclaimed wood, exposed original brick, recreational areas with pool and/or ping pong tables, and juice and coffee bars.

For owners and landlords of more traditional office spaces designed with prestigious corner offices and high ceilings, this is an unusual twist. Historically, business owners made decisions pertaining to office space based on personal preference and client perception but now, a large number of companies are turning their attention more to the workforce and the type of space that leads to greater production and on-the-job satisfaction.

As stated by Ned Fox, chief executive of Vantage Property Investors, there is also the fact that companies today employ millennials who like a cooler look and feel. Therefore, the goal is to try something completely different, something that creates a great work environment that in turn attracts the best business talent.

Fox added that a significant portion of his career building days were spent on developing the largest office towers in Los Angeles as part of Maguire/Thomas Partners but now, older warehouses are being transformed. A prime example is an old jewelry mart that became the headquarters in San Francisco for Airbnb.

Keeping it Real

As explained by Fox, growing companies of today are interested in less refinement and more genuine materials. Simply put, people no longer want to work in an office that has high-end finishes. Instead, workers look for environments that are fresh, invigorating, and different. In response, Fox has changed the way he conducts marketing, as well as large scale renovations.

Ali Esmaeilzadeh, senior vice president with Forest City Ratner Cosl, who owns One Pierrepont Plaza in Brooklyn, New York, said that to survive it is important to cater to what the market wants. His 19-story office tower was first constructed in 1988 and used primarily by banks. However, due to the changes, the tower is now referred to as “Brooklyn Cool”.

Even the previous home of American International Group in Manhattan is being changed. The 41-story glassy building is undergoing a $100 million makeover, which when finished will include a lobby that boasts artificial turf, picnic tables, and a movie screen, as well as an extensive food court.

By making corporate buildings cool, a growing trend of manufacturing districts proven to outperform towers located downtown will be tapped into. With word spreading about these new office spaces becoming available, tech and media companies are flocking to the area in search of a new home. Although the cool look and feel is substantial for New York companies, this same trend is cropping up around the country.

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