Aging Office Buildings Look to Gain a Competitive Edge

Last month, Page Principal John Clegg, Page Associate Principals David Euscher and Jamie Flatt and Page client Darrell Kainer of Enterprise Products Company (EPCO) participated in a panel discussion on "Sleeping Giants: Awakening Aging Assets" at the CoreNet Global North American Summit in Washington, D.C. "Sleeping Giants" are the vast stock of older, more prosaic buildings which comprise the bulk of our downtown skylines and which, although valuable building assets, have very little of the amenity infrastructure to help them compete as new buildings enter their markets and lure away prime tenants. The National Real Estate Investor recently published a recap of the presentation and interviewed our team members about what will be required for these aging office buildings to remain competitive.

"Aging Office Buildings Look to Gain a Competitive Edge", by Beth Mattson-Teig, National Real Estate Investor, 11/4/14

The photos above illustrate just three properties in downtown Houston for which Page has provided repositioning strategies: 1100 Louisiana, 919 Milam and Two Shell Plaza (now 811 Louisiana). 

1100 Louisiana

With 95% of the space leased, the key drivers of repositioning 1100 Louisiana were to improve the tenant experience and strengthen the ownership brand while positioning the building to retain a competitive edge as new buildings entered the market.  The visitor approach had recently been upgraded with major modifications to the plaza, but the tenant pathway from the garage, through the tunnel, and up into the lobby was poorly lit and tired. Simple finish changes, appropriate scaled furniture and improved lighting were introduced, transforming the feel of the environment with small adjustments at minimal disruption.

919 Milam
The building at 919 Milam featured a plinth at the base which contained underperforming windowless office space.  The design team identified the potential to turn the vacant space into a revenue generator and major improvement to the building by converting the plinth space into a tenant garage.  The program shift required only minor changes to the building lobby, employing strategic introduction of backlit onyx at the escalator entry to the downtown tunnel system to mitigate the loss of a pedestrian entry to make way for garage ramps.

811 Louisiana
Two Shell Plaza, facing the loss of a majority tenant, saw an opportunity and incentive to reposition in the market through reorientation of address and associated brand, improvement to the approach via street and tunnel, and dissociation from historic affiliation with a ‘sister’ structure in One Shell plaza. In searching for increased market prominence, location along a key access route to the downtown theater district presented an opportunity.  Façade changes were introduced at the base of the building to update the appearance, redirect the building entry, and provide an opportunity for nighttime lighting changes to highlight the property to the theater going public.  Interior finishes, heavily branded to the former identity, were replaced with a distinctive selection of bright, modern materials – extensive research of the surrounding buildings was conducted to avoid any duplication and assure the building would attain a unique and independent feel.  As the building, currently under construction, goes out to market, informational materials emphasize the strong new brand identity.