Commercial real estate (CRE) has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. In the wake of the pandemic, the rise in remote work and flexible office arrangements has encouraged property owners and developers to reevaluate the role that amenities and tenant programming play in creating a sense of community that draws workers back to the office.

In his July 2023 Forbes article, KBS CEO Marc De Luca describes the evolving landscape of office space and that Class A building owners would be best served by providing “next-level offerings” such as concierge service, premier internet connectivity, state-of-the-art technology for conferencing, on-site car detailing, on-site EV chargers, and gourmet food and drink options.”

Says DeLuca, “These services and conveniences help companies and their teams stay focused, productive and on track to reach their business objectives.”

“Properties offering wellness amenities like cutting-edge fitness centers, touchless elevators and healthier indoor air are more important in the post-COVID era than ever before, for they help keep companies and their employees healthy and industrious,” says DeLuca. “Look for well-designed, modern buildings with amenities that spark collaboration and creativity, such as a great indoor or outdoor tenant lounge and conference space and Wi-Fi-enabled outdoor spaces.”

Additionally, environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities will continue to be a key focus and grow in prominence as both tenants and investors want buildings that put health, sustainability and efficiency top of mind. For a closer look into ESG and how investors and tenants are holding building owners and developers to take a firmer commitment, read the third of a three-part series, “Exploring the G in ESG,” by KBS.

Premium, high-amenity office space can also help with recruitment and retention efforts. With unemployment still at historic lows, any strategic foothold can be valuable.

Here are some in-demand areas where CRE owners can expand amenities:

  • Cafes and dining: Areas to relax and dine or take the laptop and work or meet over coffee offer convenience, a change of scenery and a social hub in the office environment.
  • Childcare services: Offering on-site childcare facilities or partnerships with nearby providers can help working parents balance their personal and professional lives.
  • Concierge services: The convenience of having  onsite service such as dry cleaning, package handling, travel arrangements, restaurant reservations, event ticket booking, etc., can free up a time during a busy workday.
  • Flexibility: Providing versatile workspaces, such as hot desking (work areas not assigned to any employee but wired for certain capabilities), private meeting rooms and collaborative zones, can help retain tenants by accommodating the evolving needs of hybrid work.
  • Outdoor spaces: green rooftops, terraces, and outdoor seating areas have gained immense popularity post-pandemic, as they provide a fresh-air escape and an opportunity to connect with nature.
  • Social spaces: Creating unique areas for social interaction is essential in fostering a sense of community. Lounge areas, coffee shops, and outdoor seating arrangements can facilitate casual encounters and networking, which is highly valued by tenants.
  • Sustainability initiatives: Incorporating eco-friendly initiatives such as LEED or GRESB certifications, smart utilities, bike storage and EV charging stations can enhance retention rates.
  • Technological Offerings: Robust and reliable technology, including high-speed internet and smart building features, is helpful for today’s tenants who rely heavily on digital tools and connectivity.
  • Wellness facilities: Fitness centers, yoga studios, and even day spas or salons give opportunities for self-care before or after the workday without having to fight additional traffic.


Accenture Tower in Chicago is an ideal example of KBS’ implementation of amenities. This LEED Gold-certified, Class A property has earned The Outstanding Building of the Year (TOBY) Award Internationally by the Building Owner and Managers Association (BOMA). The Mixed-Use Property now has multiple amenities that provide tenants with everything from transportation, food options, fitness areas and an indoor/outdoor tenant lounge.

Recent occupancy rates at Accenture Tower, as well as many of KBS’ other amenity-rich properties, such as Park Place Village in the Kansas City metro area and Salt Lake Hardware Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, are 100% occupied. Each of these properties are well above their pre-pandemic occupancy levels.

Understanding the amenities that are currently popular among tenants is vital for commercial real estate owners and developers looking to create a sense of community. Chicago’s Willis Tower, for example, had a $670 million makeover, as reported by Urban Land Institute, and is now a prime example of how innovative amenities can be integrated into a building’s design to meet the needs of today’s tenants. For those who don’t recognize the name of this iconic property, it was formerly known as Sears Tower.

The renovated 110-story building now offers a broad range of amenities that are targeted to tenants, neighboring office workers, residents and tourists. These include cafés, a bar, lounges, a large fitness center, and a remodeled Skydeck observatory. The makeover included a $60 million investment in elevator upgrades that eliminated long waiting times to go to the upper floors that were previously the norm. The biggest addition is Catalog, a five-story, 300,000-square-foot restaurant and retail space named for the historic Sears catalog. There’s also a landscaped rooftop terrace and all is open to the public.

While the following examples might not be immediately obvious, they represent uncommonly untapped potential to an amenity mix.

  • Arts and culture: Incorporate art installations, galleries, or cultural events within the office space adds vibrancy and promotes a sense of community.
  • Collaborations with local businesses: Partner with local businesses to provide services such as food delivery, fitness classes, or wellness sessions within the building.
  • Community programming and engagement: Organize community events, such as charity drives, speaker forums, or workshops that involve tenants and the public.
  • Event spaces: multi-purpose spaces, lobbies and conference rooms can be rented out for professional and social gatherings. Form relationships with catering companies to offer full-service options.
  • Pop-up markets and events: Host regular pop-up markets, food trucks, and events in the building’s common areas. This not only attracts foot traffic but also encourages interaction among tenants and visitors. For example: at KBS’ Bank of America Tower in Raleigh, North Carolina, the office property recently unveiled its new Art Box installation, “Night Flight,” by local artist, Annele Lemanski. These one-of-a-kind public art displays showcase original works by local artists in an urban setting, such as offices, designed to spark curiosity and inspiration among tenants and the community.
  • Production or performance space: Convert available office areas into small video or recording studios and rent to aspiring artists.



Commercial real estate owners must think beyond professional occupancy to maximize their property’s potential. Expanding offerings to the public can help compensate for any decrease in professional tenants and build greater awareness for the building.

A strategic mix should be flexible, sustainable, wellness-focused, and technologically advanced to cater to the changing needs of modern tenants. To compensate for lower professional occupancy, it’s worth considering opening facilities to the public, which can also promote community engagement and create vibrant, multifaceted spaces that extend beyond traditional office use.

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