Unico Associate Regional Director Sarajane “SJ” Goodfellow on what’s next for Denver’s office market
DENVER (April 30, 2019) — As workforce expectations continue to evolve in Denver, the workplace of today and tomorrow looks very different than it did even a few years ago. From the length of leases to the evolution of co-working to the importance of lasting tenant finishes and amenities that matter, owners can’t overlook anything to attract and retain top tenants in a strong market like Denver.
Denver’s commercial real estate leaders recently convened to discuss these timely workplace trends at Bisnow’s Office of the Future event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Downtown Denver. Unico Associate Regional Director Sarajane “SJ” Goodfellow was among the expert panelists who provided unique perspectives, valuable insight and a few good laughs to the nearly 200 attendees.
We sat down with SJ to hear some of her perspectives.
The interview below with Sarajane “SJ” Goodfellow, Unico Associate Regional Director, was edited for clarity.
What expectations are tenants bringing to the table regarding their leases?
Co-working spaces have changed the leasing game. Known for offering shorter-term leases, these spaces appeal to many tenants because of their flexibility. As an owner, we have the opportunity to re-think our leasing strategies to meet tenants where they are – whether that’s working with a shorter-term lease or helping companies understand the benefits of longer-term leases so they can effectively and easily grow within our portfolio.
Co-working spaces also offer shorter lease agreements (two pages vs. 20 pages). This streamlined approach is something we need more of as an industry. We need to think about ways we can reduce the burden placed on the tenant during the leasing process.
At the end of the day, our biggest value add is our ability to build relationships.
In light of shorter-term leases, what’s your philosophy for building out tenant spaces?
You really have to be thoughtful about the build-out and create generational space that will last 10 years, even though your tenant may only sign for two or three of those years. That means timeless finishes, flexible, adaptable design, and of course making sure you have the kitchen in the right spot. It’s taking that extra step and talking about your building with your tenants—just making sure you’re part of the process.
What are tenants looking for in terms of amenities?
While in-building amenities—like fitness centers, showers, lockers, and community spaces—continue to be a selling point for some tenants, we’re seeing a shift towards location-based amenities that promote flexibility and convenience. With more companies supporting flexible work schedules, employees want to be able to come and go as they wish to run errands, pick up kids from school, get their hair cut, etc. They also want to be able to walk out of the door and be within walking distance to restaurants, bars, retail, and other entertainment options.
It’s one of the reasons we concentrate our portfolio in urban areas, like downtown Denver and Boulder’s Pearl Street. We want to provide our tenants with the opportunity to engage and become part of the larger community.
So, what’s next for office space in Denver?
With new construction slowing down (relatively speaking), I think we’re going to see a resurgence of second-generation buildings that take on a new life for new companies. Over the past few years, we’ve repositioned two historic buildings in Downtown Denver to do just that—The DC Building and Elephant Corral.
We repositioned both buildings to attract modern tenants. At The DC Building, for instance, we put in a bowling alley in an unused portion of the basement. We also updated the building’s common spaces, including the construction of centralized conference rooms. It helps that the building is located in the heart of Upper Downtown, close to popular restaurants and 16th Street Mall.
Elephant Corral’s historic charm, proximity to restaurants, bars, and retail, as well as its access to the Cherry Creek Trail, attracted Strava as a new tenant.
At the end of the day, our biggest value add is our ability to build relationships. We strive to take our tenants throughout their entire business life cycle—from making the leasing process as enjoyable as possible to being engaged property managers to support their growth by helping meet their needs however we can.
- Read Bisnow’s Margaret Jackson’s story on the Office of the Future panel.
- Unico Colorado’s leasing successes have been well-documented in the Colorado press, including Xero’s relocation to our award-winning new construction The Circa Building (Denver Post), Strava’s expansion in our historic building Elephant Corral (BusinessDen), and Avanti’s new location in the Unico-owned Pearl Street Mall (Boulder Daily Camera).