Unique Amenities

by Kim Smith

Modest job growth continues to keep the commercial real estate market steady, and office owners are turning up the creativity dial on amenities to stay ahead of competition and attract tenants.  Therefore, it’s important to think like a prospective tenant and always remember that they are shown upwards of 10 properties over a one- to two-day period.  Much of what they see and hear will blend when building aesthetics and services are generic and similar.  So, how do landlords stand out? A large component of “being remembered” is through the best-of-the-best amenities; think beyond the basic café or traditional gym. Instead, leap into a fitness center with towel service, a private trainer, a massage therapy room… and other unique amenities.  That’s what makes a property memorable and desired.

Amenities can run the gamut, so what are tenants looking for?

Savvy heads of corporate real estate and C-suite personnel are interested in amenities that enhance their employees’ experience at work. A harmonious work environment contributes to retention, recruiting, and productivity, and companies that seek out buildings that enhance the tenant experience with unique services and amenities are communicating to their employees (and future hires) that they care about them.

The KBS portfolio is widespread with different unique amenities that are appropriately designed for that specific market and employment base.  At Park Avenue at Morris County in Florham Park, NJ, above-standard amenities such as a concierge service, fitness and wellness center which encompasses a Fit Boot Camp–Small Group Training & Outdoor Group Fitness Classes, Massage Therapy Services, Corporate Wellness—Yoga, Meditation, Stress Management & Nutrition, Outdoor Fitness—Basketball/Volleyball and Walking Trail, and Executive Fitness Center & Spa keep the property high on tenants’ list. Additionally, Park Avenue at Morris County has taken its food service to the next level with its Lunch Box program.  Tenants have the option to choose from a wide variety of lunch and snack options as well as daily specials and catering. This program specifically communicates to tenants that the KBS property is progressive, tech savvy, and interested in helping them stay productive.

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By comparison, another unique amenity has taken shape at the KBS-owned Tysons Dulles Plaza property in McLean, VA in the form of Epix Restaurant & Lounge, which boasts robust menu offerings, innovative cocktails, and fine wine. The location also features a cigar lounge, further adding to the office property’s onsite amenities that include a fitness center, conference facility and putting green.

Financial Center at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens, FL also added a putting green and wine bar to its roster of amenities, which has helped to position the building as one of the most sought-after in the local market.

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I suspect the trend of unique amenities will continue its award trajectory, but the key is for landlords to differentiate between services and amenities that are truly desirable and those that are so-called “gimmicky”, and also what is appropriate for the market.  I see a bit of one-upmanship in the market and that can lead to services and amenities that tenants don’t really need.  For example, video game rooms may work in a tech corridor building, but in a traditional office setting employers may see these as a distraction to productivity. So it is important for landlords to do their due diligence and opt for additions that truly enhance the tenant experience.


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Ms. Smith is a senior vice president and director of property management for KBS Realty Advisors responsible for enhancing the value of property operations, including oversight of third-party property managers across the nation.