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Landlord Makeovers: Top 5 Upgrades for Attracting Tenants

As more than 2 million square feet of trophy office space hit the Chicago market in 2017, landlords were bracing for the increased competition and inevitable space shuffle from tenants.

Chicago’s luxury office towers at 150 N. Riverside and 444 W. Lake are attracting much attention and pulling some top tenants away from other buildings. This wave of construction is also creating a domino effect across many building types, as tenants search for new amenities and jockey for the best deals. The amenities race is on — and landlords, particularly those with buildings upgraded during the 1980s and 90s, need to be engaged.

How can landlords compete in today’s tenant-focused office environment?

Some Chicago landlords are upgrading lobbies, renovating restrooms, building spec suites, and taking time to carefully evaluate their position in the market. What does the competition have? How can we be better?

This shift in focus coincides with a changing landlord-tenant environment, where tenants are getting the upper hand now in many markets. They are calling the shots — and expect landlords to have certain building amenities and features in place.

Savvy landlords are evaluating their spaces and working with their architectural partners to develop a plan improve the interior building design and add the right amenities.

Here are 5 must have building upgrades that can boost the tenant experience:

  1. An inviting and fresh lobby design — It’s the first area a prospective tenant sees and it should set the tone. Among the popular design elements are tall window walls, earth-inspired wall coverings and plantings, sleek lighting fixtures, and natural wood and glass accents.
  2. Wifi lounges are hot — These lobby spaces are key amenities, as they provide a place for tenants to stop, check email and regroup before going to the office or leaving for a meeting. Years ago, many landlords took a minimalistic approach to their lobbies: the pendulum is swinging in another direction now. EAA’s proposed tenant lounge at 230 W. Monroe in Chicago includes a fire lounge, break bar, phone booths, and conference center space.
  3. Hospitality lounge centers — These comfy spaces with seating, Wifi connection, and coffee stations are designed for clients to use during a building tour. Some landlords are adding full conference rooms with video capabilities to set the stage for a more structured virtual building tour.
  4. Spec Suites — These are ideal for helping tenants envision how their finished space could look. They often range from 2,500 to 10,000 square feet and are outfitted with office and break rooms, collaborative areas and well-appointed reception areas. They can be partially or fully completed, giving tenants a turn-key space in a short time frame.
  5. Food, food and more food — Tenants expect an office environment that provides food options — from quick coffee shops to casual restaurants that serve fresh foods and offer prepacked meals and quick take out options.