The trend toward urbanized centers continues to draw headlines, leading suburban landlords to conclude the live-work-play model is the way of the future.
“Twenty years ago, the focus was always on how to appeal to corporate tenants with buildings, but with newer buildings there is an appeal to try to create nice, comfortable work environments for employees as well,” Time Equities’ Aaron Medeiros said. “So it is not just about the corporate clients. It’s about the employees who work for them as well.”
At 4, 5 and 6 Century Drive, a 280,000-square-foot, three-building complex, the JV partners are implementing a $4.5 million improvement plan that includes adding a quiet and massage room, and an art room to the existing space.
Naomi Schenck, director of interior designs for Time Equities said the company is so bullish on these sorts of amenities because of their appeal in different environments.
“A lot of people like massages and some companies have massagers come in with a portable table that the employees can use,” Schenck said. “This is just the next step, to offer a quiet room like it is also offered in an airport, so that people can get some new energy if they need to for 15 minutes or 30 minutes.”
But the art room, she added, is a bit more cutting-edge.
“Our chairman and CEO, Francis Greenburger is a big art collector, so he likes to support the arts,” Schenck said. “We noticed a general trend that even people who aren’t artists themselves like to be creative. It stimulates the brain and makes them more effective in their job. People who like to go to the gym like to work out their muscles, but the art room gives them an opportunity to work on their creative muscles in a way. They find a way of expressing over there and it’s a way of relaxing.”
The amenities offered at 4, 5, 6 Century Drive took 5 percent of the total square footage of the property out of its total leasable space.
“Our view is that in markets like New Jersey, where you are always going to have some degree of vacant space, whether it’s 5 percent or 10 percent, if we can develop 5 percent of our space to amenities that may otherwise be vacant, and it improves the marketability, leasability and experience for our tenants, that’s a good thing for everyone,” Medeiros said. “And that is our view basically: let’s take space that would otherwise be vacant and create interesting experiential amenity space.”
Time Equities and Bergman Group are also converting a part of the parking space for the complex into a park for employees and have upgraded the complex’s café and game room areas.
“People in the suburban area want to have the feeling like they are in the urban center,” Schenck said. “Everybody is looking at how people in New York or Chicago are living in urban centers and they want to have the same amenities. That’s why we put an espresso bar with a barista there. Because that is in every corner (in the city) and we want to give the people in the suburban area the same kind of feeling.”
The complex at 4, 5, 6 Century Drive was 50 percent leased when Time Equities and Bergman Group purchased it in July 2016, with occupancy now at 65 percent or so.
Time Equities is also exploring a similar capital improvements program at Jefferson Plaza, located at 100 and 110 S. Jefferson Road, Whippany.