Collaborate to create communities within buildings

The mezzanine at 1225 17th St. offers tenants nice outdoor space.

Judy V. Duran, RPA
Director, property management, CBRE

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There’s no denying that Denver’s commercial real estate market is hot. Owners of existing office buildings are facing tough competition on several fronts.

The last four years have seen impressive levels of new office construction with no sign of slowing down. In fact, CBRE’s research shows 2.5 million square feet of new office space in development across metro Denver as of the end of the second quarter.

In addition to going head-to-head with new construction, owners of existing buildings are competing with new offerings in the market like the dramatic increase of flex office space. According to a September CBRE report on the flexible office market, Denver ranks seventh in the U.S. for flexible office space square footage. Denver’s flex office market grew 37% to 2.8 million sf from the second-quarter 2018 to second-quarter 2019, now accounting for 2.4% of Denver’s total office inventory.

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At the heart of this new competition is a conversation around community – which property can offer the best employee experience? CBRE’s most recent survey of office occupiers across the Americas found amenities ranked No. 1 when it comes to workforce priorities, with 81% of occupiers indicating they were looking to landlords and service providers to enhance their amenity offerings.

Savvy building owners in Denver understand how important amenities are to tenants and the employee experience, and we are seeing them build that sense of community in their spaces in several ways.

Work-life balance. There’s a renewed commitment by landlords to not only meet an employee’s professional needs but also to deliver on some personal needs. This is manifesting in the form of buildings offering virtual fitness classes via fitness centers and creating community-focused outdoor areas with Wi-Fi, hammocks, lawn games, fire pits with seating and visits from local food trucks.

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Buildings also are introducing enhanced concierge services that offer amenities like dry cleaning pickup/drop-off, car washes and oil changes and windshield repairs/replacements. These on-site services save employees time and stress by letting them accomplish necessary tasks during their working hours without subtracting from their productivity.

Offerings like on-site farmers’ markets, lunch and learns, and discounted tickets to local restaurants and sporting events are additional ways property managers are helping companies show employees that they care.

Enhanced tenant events. We also are seeing more owners step up their game when it comes to employee events. We partner with many of our clients to host monthly events that span wellness, philanthropy or simply entertainment. Recent examples include holiday pop-up boutiques that sell gifts, flowers and candy, pizza watch parties for college basketball tournaments, summer concert series, pumpkin carving contests in the fall and bike repair stations on Denver’s Bike to Work day.

From a philanthropic standpoint, we’ve seen property managers organize Toys for Tots and back-to-school supply drives, host pet adoption events, coordinate Soles for Soules collections and ask for donations for clothes and toiletry items for the homeless.

Property managers also have gotten creative when it comes to health and wellness events. From “Yoga on the Plaza” to tenant boot camps, blood drives, fitness expos, on-site massages, flu shots and even visits from a mammogram bus, landlords and property managers are helping companies demonstrate that they are invested in their employees’ well-being.

Going big. I’d be remiss to not mention that we also have seen building owners execute some really elaborate strategies to ensure they stand out from the pack in attracting and retaining tenants. We’ve seen owners build luxurious chef’s kitchens to offer employee cooking classes, on-site bowling alleys and climbing walls, not to mention beautiful tenant lounge spaces that include a full coffee bar.

It’s truly an exciting time to be in property management as we collaborate together with building owners to offer community-focused workspaces that create one-of-a-kind employee experiences.

Featured in CREJ’s October 2019 Property Management Quarterly

Edited by the Colorado Real Estate Journal staff.