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Standout trends among new office properties

Civica Cherry Creek
Access to outdoor space, parking and fitness centers are the most popular amenities new office buildings are offering in Denver, according to data collected from many of the properties under construction or recently completed in the metro area. Courtesy Bowen Studios.

Access to outdoor space, parking and fitness centers are the most popular amenities new office buildings are offering in Denver, according to data collected from many of the properties under construction or recently completed in the metro area. Below is a snapshot of these findings, but first, a few words on the noticeable trends.

The most popular amenity among new buildings is some type of outdoor space. Twelve of the properties – 75 percent – listed an outdoor area among its amenities. These ranged from the rooftop decks at 1401 Lawrence, Civica Cherry Creek, Industry RiNo Station and Inova Dry Creek II to the landscaped patios and terraces at Flight, 169 Inverness and 1144 Fifteenth Street. Granite Place offers a Wi-Fi-enabled outdoor area while One Belleview Station and 50 Fifty feature open-air courtyards. Two – Colorado Center Tower 3 and Riverview – even tout fire pits in their outdoor areas.

In addition to accessing the outdoors, there seems to be a greater emphasis on natural daylight and nice views from within the confines of the office. Floor-to-ceiling windows, unobstructed and panoramic views, and access to natural daylight throughout a building were just a few of the ways developers are addressing this growing tenant demand.

In fact, 50 Fifty features two twin lightwells that aim to “deliver natural light to almost every corner of the interior,” the property’s website said. The lightwells will reduce energy costs and provide internal open spaces that can be used for social events, meetings and art exhibits. “The impact of these two lightwells on the building cannot be overstated,” the website said.

Natural daylight is an integral part of creating workspaces that foster well-being, a building component measurement on the rise in new properties. However, when it comes to building certifications, LEED is still king.

Half of the properties listed a LEED certification goal as an important building feature. For example, 16 Chestnut is targeting LEED Platinum; 1144 Fifteenth Street, One Belleview Station and 50 Fifty are targeting LEED Gold; and Civica Cherry Creek as well as Inova I and II are targeting LEED Silver. Riverview will feature a large, two-story living “green wall” in its lobby in addition to LEED certification. Other properties listed the importance of sustainably designed and operated buildings.

Another component of a healthy workplace is a fitness center, which nine of the properties feature. Locker rooms and showers also are becoming a must-mention amenity. Complementing fitness centers is bike storage, which almost all of the offices with fitness centers offer in addition to many of the other respondents that don’t have on-site gyms.

With fitness and bike storage becoming must-haves, properties are going above and beyond to distinguish themselves. For example, Colorado Center Tower 3 will offer fitness classes exclusively available to tenants and 50 Fifty will feature a bike mechanic’s station. The amount of space available for bike storage is increasing as well. Riverview proudly promotes its one bike space per 1,000 sf ratio, which equates to indoor parking space for 200 bikes.

While priority for bike storage is increasing, car parking needs are not disappearing. The overwhelming majority listed private parking as an important amenity. It was the second-most-common amenity after access to the outdoors. Not surprisingly, the further south we went, the higher the ratio of parking spaces to rentable square feet. For example, Riverview, a 213,713-sf office property under construction on Platte Street, offers a covered parking ratio of 1.67 spaces per 1,000 rentable sf. Meanwhile, 169 Inverness, a 115,895-sf office property located in the Inverness Business Park, offers four spaces per 1,000 sf.

Similarly, the further south we go, the lower the rental rates become. Of those that shared cost information, rental rates range from low- to mid-$30s per sf for downtown spaces to mid- to high-$20s per sf for SES properties. Project costs ran the gamut – from the $190 million 16 Chestnut to $50 million Flight.

Likewise, proximity to public transit was a top amenity for those properties located near light-rail stations. All seven of the properties located in the DTC – 169 Inverness, Granite Place, 50 Fifty, One Belleview Station, Charter Communications headquarters, and Inova Dry Creek I and II – as well as Industry RiNo Station listed the light rail as a key amenity. It was common for these properties to list the duration and path of the walk to each station. Going one step further, One Belleview Station’s lobby will display light-rail schedules on its touchscreen directory, and 50 Fifty mentioned the Call-n-Ride program available every 15 minutes in addition to it being a 7-minute walk to the station. The Inova campus will provide a dedicated shuttle to transport employees to the Dry Creek light-rail station.

Not surprisingly, many of the properties also highlighted their surroundings as important amenities to future tenants. The most prevalent was access to surrounding retail and restaurants. Obvious retail neighborhoods include Lower Downtown, Union Station and Cherry Creek North. Several others are part of master plans, which will offer immediate access to many amenities. These include Flight, which will have access to the entire Taxi campus, Colorado Center Tower 3, part of the Colorado Center development, and One Belleview Station, part of a 42-acre mixed-use development surrounding the Belleview light-rail station.

Other surrounding amenities gaining popularity were access to biking and walking paths as well as proximity to hotels.

While there were common themes among these new projects, there also were several unique amenities. For example, 169 Inverness features designated food truck parking, and offices at Flight feature garage doors opening up to terraces and the largest privately developed green roof in Colorado. Civica Cherry Creek will have a concierge service and a private library space, while 1144 Fifteenth Street will offer 24/7 security. Industry RiNo Station is pet friendly and features a rec area and nest room. Building infrastructure, such as high-speed traction elevators, state-of-the-art heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, fiber backbone and Wi-Fi connectivity were among other notable amenities.

Click here to see the data collected from 16 office properties under construction or recently completed in the metro area.

Featured in CREJ’s June 2017 Office Properties Quarterly.

Kris Oppermann Stern is publisher and editor of Building Dialogue, a Colorado Real Estate Journal publication, and editor of CREJ's construction, design, and engineering section, including news and bylined articles. Building Dialogue is a quarterly, four-color magazine that caters specifically to the AEC industry, including features on projects and people, as well as covering trends…