The US Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles has recently undergone a $60 million capital improvement project by Silverstein Properties. The building amenities now include a newly renovated 54th floor lounge with comfortable couches, lounge chairs, and a concierge service. In addition, the tower offers various programming such as cooking classes and free business photos, making it feel more like a hotel than an office building.
Silverstein Properties purchased the high-rise for $430 million during the pandemic, and the building is currently 50% to 70% occupied Monday through Thursday, with the lowest number of people entering on Friday. However, Silverstein Properties has created a space that invigorates and connects with the surrounding community, inviting them with food and beverage options, comfortable seating, and gathering areas, much like a hotel. The amenities are all part of the “hotel” of the iconic 1,000-foot US Bank Tower, making it one of the tallest skyscrapers west of the Mississippi.
With most tenants working remotely, Silverstein remodeled and renovated the building into a space that encourages people to come together. Whether tenants prefer to relax on the newly renovated 54th floor with couches and lounge chairs or stay warm in front of a fireplace, they can also check out various artworks from 8mm film cameras, projectors, and vintage movie posters, or marvel at the stunning views of the downtown area. Furthermore, if tenants have difficulty booking a reservation for Bestia or Bavel, the US Bank Tower offers a hospitality ambassador or concierge service that can advise on the best restaurants to impress a customer or even help get tickets to a Lakers or Dodgers game or a trip to the Pantages. The building also offers a coffee and juice bar and a gym.
The advanced improvements highlight the cultural tug-of-war that property owners face as employers: the tenants grapple with bringing workers, many of whom have grown accustomed to working remotely, back into drab office buildings. Three years after the coronavirus pandemic forced most office building owners to close their doors, the downtown office market still hasn’t fully recovered. Downtown’s other segments – tourism, hospitality, and residential occupancy – have either recovered or surpassed their pre-pandemic levels. However, the office spaces are far behind. Occupancy in several office buildings is down, and so is foot traffic.
According to access control company Kastle, which has tracked the number of people coming in and out of their more than 2,600 buildings across the country, the Los Angeles metropolitan area had an average occupancy rate of 48% at the end of March. Before the pandemic, office occupancy in downtown Los Angeles was in the 90s. During the height of the pandemic, it dropped to single digits. The Downtown Center Business Improvement District’s 2022 report found that office occupancy in downtown LA rose as high as 68%. But overall visitation still lags pre-pandemic. During the fourth quarter of 2022, there were 3.4 million workplace visits. At the end of 2019, there were 5.4 million.
Griffin, the executive director of DCBID, said Silverstein has created a space that embraces and connects with the surrounding community, inviting them with food and beverage options, comfortable seating, and gathering areas, much like a hotel. “They’ve created a place where people will want to work, not where they have to work,” he said. Griffin added that other office property owners will need to do something similar to attract and retain tenants. In November, the company signed five new companies to leases for a total of 72,000 square meters. The building has a 50% to 70% occupancy rate, mostly Monday through Thursday, and Friday has the least amount of people coming in, according to McQuillan.
McQuillan said there are many benefits to working from the office. He talked about the importance of mentorship and camaraderie. Eventually, he sees many employers moving to a flexible hybrid work environment in the future. “Flexibility is key,” he said. “As a landlord and property owner, we need to build incredible spaces for businesses. We think that drives more people back to the office.”
Silverstein Properties, a New York-based real estate developer that has built notable hotels and offices in New York City and Walt Disney World in Florida, believes that if they build it, they — employers and their employees — will come. With advanced building improvements, various amenities, programming, and special events, the US Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles has created an inviting space that encourages people to come together. Silverstein hopes that with these features, it will entice businesses and their employees to return and work in an incredible space that incorporates a hotel-like feel into the office environment.
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