By the numbers, office development still remains a shadow of its former self.

But, the few corporate and multi-tenant buildings that are coming out of the ground are raising the bar on class-A standards.

These new buildings—which some have dubbed “class-AA”—are packed with amenities and features that aim to meet the needs of a changing workforce and shifting workplace trends. “The market in general is showing that tenants have a growing awareness of how the office environment can be used as a means to draw and retain talented employees,” says Sabrina Kanner, senior vice president, design and construction, U.S. commercial operations at Brookfield Office Properties in New York City.

As such, the task at hand for developers these days is more than just building a generic stand-alone office tower. The emphasis is on creating a vibrant community that combine a variety of amenities both inside and out such as park spaces, retail, restaurants, fitness centers and rooftop gardens. Office buildings need to embrace the new urban paradigm that fits the “live/work/play lifestyle” of today’s workers, adds Kanner.

Case in point is the first phase of Brookfield Place Calgary in the heart of downtown Calgary. Brookfield broke ground on the 1.4-million-sq.-ft. east tower in October. The building houses a number of amenities including a Winter Garden. The 27,000-sq.-ft. indoor park-like pavilion will host a variety of events and programs such as art exhibits, speakers and concerts. The intent is to have those events as an added offering to building tenants at lunchtime or after work. It also pulls in other neighboring office workers and residents to create more vibrancy and activity for the building’s retail tenants, says Kanner.

Real estate has become a big recruiting tool for companies today. “That is really driving tenants to step up into these more state-of-the-art buildings,” says Philip Croker, director of development for Hines in Houston.

Hines is in the process of putting the finishing touches on the design for 609 Main at Texas in Downtown Houston. Site prep work on the 1 million-sq.-ft. building began in early November. The 47-story commercial office building will sit next to the 46-story BG Group Place that was completed in 2011. Both buildings were designed by New Haven, Conn.-based Pickard Chilton. Even though the two projects are a scant few years apart, there are distinct design changes being made to 609 Main.

The design on BG Group Place was done in an era when it was still early in the game when new workplace trends were emerging, notes Croker. For example, the 7,500-sq.-ft. gym at 609 Main is three times larger than the gym at the neighboring BG Group Place. Fitness centers that for years have been seen as a scarcely used token amenity are in high demand and are getting a big makeover. Not only do these gyms feature state-of-the-art exercise equipment, but they have added features such as yoga and cycling studios, full-size basketball courts and virtual golf. “That is probably the number one amenity that people are asking for is the ability to get out of the office and go do something to break up the day,” says Croker.

Tenants also are asking for conference centers that are not in their own space, but part of the base building. Hines will build a 7,000 to 8,000-sq.-ft. conference center at 609 Main that overlooks Main Street. In addition, Hines plans to transform the traditional formal lobby space into a more informal meeting space. Employees are asking for spaces where they can come down from their own floor and be able to collaborate, relax or just hang out, notes Croker. So, rather than the lobby just being a place where people pass through to go to the elevators, it will be a more vibrant common area space, he adds.

Sustainable building and LEED certification is a standard component to the next generation of office buildings. But, tenants view that as more than a requirement that they need to check off the list. Tenants want natural light and fresh air, and they recognize that those are important qualities for workers and can be a real asset and not just a marketing gimmick, adds Kanner.

Modern designs clearly reflect the shift to a higher density workplace and different work styles. New office buildings have to include all of the infrastructure that supports that shift to higher density space in terms basic infrastructure such as floor loading, restrooms and HVAC systems, as well as space that allows for more collaboration. “The next generation of employees feed on proximity to each other,” says Kanner. It is a very collaborative work model that the office space now has to support.”


Source:  NREI

A gleaming addition to Miami’s waterfront greeted the art world elite as they jetted into town last week for the 12th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach: a $131 million art museum the city hopes will anchor its burgeoning cultural scene.

“Our cultural infrastructure has evolved,” said Thom Collins, director of the Perez Art Museum of Miami, also known as PAMM, which officially opened last Wednesday. ”We know people come here because they want the tropical environment. We needed to give them something that addresses our main competition, the beach.”

From sprawling, shaded verandas dotted with greenery, the Herzog & de Meuron-designed waterfront museum offers stunning vistas of Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami’s high rises. Inside the yawning space, architects used rough wood flooring and ceiling-high hurricane-proof windows to allow the building to blend into the existing landscape. “The ingredients here are cement, water, vegetation and sun, and the building should respond to these things,” said Jacques Herzog, whose firm famously converted a London power plant into the Tate Modern and designed San Francisco’s de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

Outside a plaza is being built designed by landscape firm James Corner Field Operations, renowned for the New York’s elevated High Line park in Manhattan. Since the first Art Basel Miami Beach, a spinoff of the fair held for decades in the Swiss city of the same name, Miami has undergone a cultural renaissance. Across from the convention center that hosts Art Basel is a Frank Gehry-designed symphony hall flanked by a large park where hundreds gather to watch projections of the performances inside the building broadcast on its exterior.

“People now think there is a component of Miami that includes art and culture,” said Carlos de la Cruz, a prominent Miami art collector who in 2009 opened a privately funded 30,000 square foot exhibition space filled with works from his family’s private collection, including works by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Gabriel Orozco and Rudolf Stingel. “They wouldn’t have thought of that 20 years ago, and Art Basel is what put that idea there.”

The Wynwood neighborhood, a once-blighted area just north of downtown Miami, is now home to graffiti murals by world famous artists and galleries that attract collectors from around the world. In the Design District, award-winning restaurants buzz throughout the year and luxury retailers like Louis Vuitton and Cartier have taken up nearby storefronts.

Miami’s image as a rising cultural center has also been a boon for its volatile real estate market. ”Most people can’t believe the changes,” said Jorge Perez, chief executive of the Related Group, known as the “Condo King” of Miami. “Art has been one of the great catalysts in producing this great reaction to Miami and it translates most clearly in the real estate market,” he added, citing a new boom in luxury condo construction in the Miami area, with some buildings featuring high-priced art installations to attract buyers.

The hot real estate market has also attracted some high-profile firms, including Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid, designer of a futuristic 62-story tower across the road from the new art museum, as well as Denmark’s Bjarke Ingels Group and Britain’s Lord Norman Foster. Yet the museum, partially funded by a $100 million public subsidy, came under fire in 2011, when Perez, a poster child for the city’s real estate collapse, got his name attached to it thanks to a donation of cash and art valued at $40 million.

Perez, who came under fire when billions of dollars of Related Group projects went into foreclosure, fired back at his critics, saying his intent with the museum was not only to burnish his own legacy, but to inspire more philanthropy from other wealthy Hispanics in the city. “Many times we’ve gotten the rap that either because we’re young migrants, or because we don’t have a tradition of giving we haven’t given our fair share to philanthropy,” he said. “Hispanics will be part of the mainstream of philanthropy it won’t just be Guggenheim, Getty and Whitney. You’ll also have Gonzalez and other Hispanic names that are becoming more and more a part of the economic mainstream.”

Miami remains a relatively young city, decades away from becoming a prominent art center outside of the week surrounding Art Basel and a host of satellite fairs. Many of the skyscrapers that now line the water were not there a decade ago and the region lacks major industries and major artistic educational institutions found in other cities. But art boosters say the new museum, like the Art Basel, will bolster Miami’s credibility as a global art hub. ”I think it’s going to be a Miami icon without trying to do anything other than being a really great museum,” Terence Riley, former curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, said during a public talk in November. “It’s going to be considered one of the most important contemporary museums anywhere,” added Riley who helped launch PAMM.


Source: AOL Real Estate


Is your office design hostile to your employees’ mental health?

While companies invest in many strategies to support the physical health of employees, from flu vaccinations to filtered air systems, ignoring employees’ mental health means businesses risk losing any gains they make in physical health support. Depression, stress, substance abuse, financial distress, work-life balance, ADHD, and, yes, even workplace bullying are all issues with which workers are dealing and that have a large drain on productivity.

Creating a healthy culture that supports employees’ mental health, though, may not be as complicated as some think.

Room To Work

Performance pressures, noise, distractions, and fast-paced deadlines can be stressful for workers.

Creating tranquil places to concentrate, especially in open-office environments, allow staff to choose their engagement level without losing the benefits of collaborative opportunities.

Positioning workstations away from busy aisles and work areas reduces distraction and noise, which glass panels also can help reduce. Respite rooms are gaining popularity, especially with customer service workers who need a quiet place to recharge from noisy phone work.

Seen And Connected

Environments where employees are physically seen and connected to coworkers allow people to feel like they are part of an organization and not isolated. Good workplace design causes employees to “bump into each other” frequently – at the printer, the copier, the coffee maker. These are important opportunities for social engagement.

For good behavioral health, design elements can promote a culture of transparency and increase communication: lower workstation walls, glass windows to offices, and a view to leadership.

In an open environment, leaders not only can demonstrate good behavior, but they can have a better sense of employees that might be struggling. An open environment also encourages staff self-policing, since it is harder for employees to hide bad behavior.

Creating A Home For A Mobile Workforce

Teleworkers can face unique challenges: social isolation, presenteeism, and undefined boundaries between work and home life.

When mobile workers come into the office for face-to-face connections, supporting their needs can be as important as supporting those who regularly work in the office.

Space can send a message about how important their physical presence is: Are there adequate drop-in spaces near teams with whom they interface? Are spaces “second class?” Do office meeting rooms have the technology for remote workers to see, hear and participate in meetings? Are there social spaces for team members to interact on a personal level?

These design strategies can communicate personal as well as professional value to an employee.

More Than A Perk

Regular exercise and providing access to daylight has not only shown to help reduce depression, but also improves absenteeism, increases productivity and is high on the list of employee satisfaction. Design workspace to maximize daylight for all workers. Provide a fitness area, outdoor walking paths or discounted gym membership.

Strategies that help employees balance work and personal demands sometimes have the greatest return as time is often the most precious gift. Flexible work schedules can help achieve such balance, as well as offering dry cleaning pick-up, access to food trucks, and even employee-of-the-month parking spot – all low or no cost strategies.

Lastly, workers want to be engaged, have access to leadership, and want to work for companies that have like-minded values. Having similar size workspace and workspace “perks” sends a message of “we’re all important to company success.”

Use your workplace to creatively reinforce corporate values and goals, providing subtle clues that tell staff what’s really important to a company. If marketing materials talk about environmental concerns, don’t overlook recycling containers or have a fleet of gas-guzzling cars.

With mental health issues affecting so many of us, companies are thinking beyond the stigma of mental health and developing strategies to improve the workplace. In the end, companies and employees can benefit from that.


Source:  SFBJ

Walking through the General Services Administration’s remodeled headquarters, you’d never imagine the building was built nearly a century ago.

Natural light floods across an open-plan design through floor-to-ceiling windows more reminiscent of Silicon Valley than Federal Triangle. Rows of offices have been replaced by low-walled cubicles, punctuated by enclosed “huddle rooms” where employees can work quietly or meet with a colleague or two.

“GSA has tried to make this a showcase of 21st-century workplace design, to maximize our productivity, to understand how to employ open and collaborative workplaces, and to help our customers do the same,” said Casey Coleman, GSA’s CIO. “The nature of work is more collaborative than ever, and people are more mobile than ever.” The headquarters redesign was driven by the desire to use GSA’s office space more efficiently, facilitate collaboration and serve as an example for other federal agencies whose real-estate needs GSA serves.

Across the U.S. workforce, employees are at their desks only about half the workweek, thanks to travel, meetings, time off and work-from-home arrangements, said Janet Pogue, a principal at Gensler, which led the redesign of GSA’s offices. “People are mobile given the technology and how work gets done today,” Pogue said. “That has been a driver of how we make the real estate work better.” A whopping 65 percent of GSA employees now telework at least one day per pay period, up from 28 percent in 2011, said Charles Hardy, GSA’s chief workplace officer.

To maximize the use of the new headquarters space, some GSA employees no longer have assigned desks but instead use a cubicle, huddle room or conference room depending on their needs — a practice referred to as hoteling. As a result of the increase in shared, flexible space, the new headquarters will be home to 3,300 employees, compared with just 2,500 before the redesign. That consolidation in office space will save GSA $24 million in lease payments each year.

Accommodating a mobile workforce

The experiences of GSA and other agencies at the forefront of work space innovation offer valuable lessons for federal leaders across government who are looking for ways to save money on office space and utilities, encourage telework, and stimulate innovation and collaboration. Executives who have been through the process emphasize the importance of thoughtful planning and implementation with a team that includes stakeholders from real estate, facilities management, technology, environmental sustainability, human resources and other areas.

They say it is important to emphasize the benefits the new design provides in terms of flexibility and cost savings, and take steps to alleviate any concerns when employees are asked to give up their designated office space. “This was a real-estate strategy to begin with, but now it’s become a business model,” said Richard Kadzis, vice president for strategic communications at CoreNet Global, a professional association for corporate real-estate executives. “Government executives could add a lot of value to taxpayers by getting their employees more involved in the decision-making process as it relates to real-estate and workplace practices.”

A year ago, employers typically allocated 170 square feet per person in office space. Now the trend is toward 150 square feet, Kadzis said, and the Office of Management and Budget has set a goal of 130 square feet per person for federal workplaces that want to renew or obtain a lease. OMB also has a goal to increase the level of telework among federal employees. “You do have a lot of wasted space,” said Kadzis, who estimates that cutting-edge employers now designate about 60 percent of real estate to collaborative space, 20 percent to quiet, focused space and the balance to a combination of social and learning space.

To ensure the success of its headquarters redesign, GSA put technology tools such as email and videoconferencing in the cloud so employees could access them while working remotely, whether they are at home, traveling for work or in another federal office. The new building has ubiquitous wireless, with no break in service between floors. Coleman’s team also supports lightweight mobile phones and tablet PCs, giving employees choice and flexibility.

By staggering employees’ move into the new space, GSA officials were able to continue testing, experimenting and learning. They put coffee bars and large conference rooms in the same spot on each floor to facilitate impromptu meetings and make it easier for employees to find available space on another floor if necessary. The agency also decided to share the Interior Department’s cafeteria across the street to trim costs and provide an opportunity for employees to intersect, interact and build networks.

“We’re seeing people constantly moving around and having a wide variety of work settings that provide choice,” Pogue said. She added that complex projects typically involve a number of teams, agencies and individuals, so “if you’re trying to speed up that process, those spaces need to be in close proximity. They need the availability, and you need to be able to quickly move from individual to team space and back again.”

To prepare for a more flexible and open work environment, GSA’s redesign team considered factors such as the acoustics of larger conference rooms, how to make every participant in a virtual meeting feel included, creating quiet zones away from more noisy activities, and even the weight and functionality of furniture, which employees can now move around to create different work spaces. Occupancy sensors not only turn off lights and electrical outlets when they’re unused for a certain length of time, they also provide data on the use of work spaces so GSA can continue to make adjustments.

Knocking down more than physical walls

The GSA redesign built on principles and insights Gensler developed through previous workplace transformations, including a headquarters remodeling for travel technology firm Sabre Holdings in 2007. Before the redesign, the company’s offices held 3,000 employees in 4,000 seats. Badge data showed that 35 percent of the workforce did not enter the offices on any given day. By moving to flexible, unassigned space for all employees, including the CEO, the company consolidated five office spaces of 1 million square feet into two buildings that total 470,000 square feet and are certified under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

The transformation cut Sabre’s global real estate costs by more than 25 percent, saved $10 million in operational expenses and reduced the previous average of 350 square feet per person to 185. The new headquarters fit 1.35 employees per cubicle, a significant increase from 0.81 previously. In addition, Sabre has slashed its energy consumption by 61 percent, reduced its carbon footprint by 54 percent and saved more than 22 million gallons of water.

“We needed to accommodate more people and be smarter about our use of space,” said Leilani Latimer, who was Sabre’s senior director of sustainability initiatives at the time. “When the physical walls came down, a lot of other walls came down, too…. Not having the physical walls opened people up to a lot more collaboration.”

Now employees might meet on the comfy couches in the building’s lobby or in the break room, or they might “touch down” at a bar stool in the break area to work between meetings. Although employees were initially assigned rolling sets of file drawers, many preferred to switch to digital records. An internal social media site with space for personal pictures and corporate recognition replaced the old habits of photographs on desks and plaques on walls. “Conversation was one of the learning moments for us — how loudly they speak on the telephone,” Latimer said. “People’s behaviors and manners changed by being in open space.”
Dealing with ‘separation anxiety’

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) have also saved money and increased employee satisfaction through office designs that rely heavily on hoteling. At USPTO, the dominance of quiet, focused work drove the decision to switch to hoteling and increase telework rather than move to open floor plans, said Danette Campbell, the agency’s senior telework adviser.

Since 2006, USPTO’s workforce has grown from 7,800 employees to 11,700 without requiring any additional office space or parking spots. Now more than 7,500 employees do some level of telework, and nearly 4,000 full-time teleworkers have relinquished their desk space at the office. “When they do need to come in, they reserve space in a shared on-campus hoteling office,” Campbell said. “Because our full-time telework program has become so successful and employees are so productive, when they come in they’re not spending eight hours. It becomes a touchdown place for them.”

To date, the agency has given back $24 million worth of office space and reduced the number of hoteling offices from 200 to 91, with two desks in each. “Like everything else at this agency, we monitor very closely the utilization, and that helps build our business case for giving back space,” she said. As a result, USPTO maintained 70 percent productivity during Hurricane Sandy and more than 82 percent productivity during the snowstorm that hit the Washington metro area in late March. And employees are happy with the arrangement. Ninety-two percent of full-time teleworkers report higher overall job satisfaction and work/family balance, 77 percent of them report higher productivity, and 93 percent of all survey respondents said the program has had a positive impact on employee satisfaction.

Hoteling is also a core component of TIGTA’s real-estate strategy, which includes offices, bullpens and cubicle space available by reservation. The agency reached a goal of 157 usable square feet per person thanks to a 2011 renovation and move that shrank the overall footprint from 60,597 square feet to 52,145 square feet. At TIGTA, 58 percent of employees telework two days or more a week, nearly double the Treasury Department’s average of 30 percent and more than five times the governmentwide level of 10.8 percent.

“We have a multitude of tools to cope with the separation anxiety of not being in an office anymore,” said George Jakabcin, TIGTA’s CIO. “That was key to the successful transition.” Employees at all 70 offices have laptops equipped with cameras and Wi-Fi access, videoconferencing, instant messaging and virtual whiteboarding. “We’re trying to not lose too much of the office environment in terms of being able to collaborate with people,” Jakabcin said.

But TIGTA officials also considered the downside of all that openness. “We’re conscious of ambient noise, so all the materials were selected to ensure we could keep it as private as possible when people are working,” he said. “We also have huddle rooms that are scattered around the space where you can talk to your doctor, children, spouse if you don’t want that conversation to even have the possibility of being overheard.” The hoteling program saved $6 million over the course of TIGTA’s office lease. Furthermore, job satisfaction climbed from 78 percent in 2011 to 79.8 percent in 2012, and self-reported work/life balance increased from 87.3 percent to 89.3 percent.

To help provide the interpersonal connection that might be missing in a telework-heavy workforce, TIGTA leaders start virtual meetings with a few minutes of socialization. Managers also specify and track performance more rigorously than before and always look for opportunities to increase efficiency, Jakabcin said. Indeed, workgroups that have moved to flexible space and more virtual meetings find that it’s often easier to have an impromptu conference call than it was in the past to find a time for everyone to meet in person. “You have to think about what does the technology provide for in the way of opportunities to change and improve the process,” Jakabcin said. “We were able to eliminate some steps that might not otherwise have surfaced if we had kept doing it in a physical presence environment.


Source: The Business of Federal Technology


Everyone wants to save energy; everyone feels the pressure to reduce costs and improve the bottom line of their business in a lousy economic climate.

Energy Savings Companies (ESCOs) come in two varieties, guaranteed savings or non-guaranteed savings. So where does the facilities manager start? The answer: get an energy study done.

Common Sense
First and foremost, be honest about the goal of your energy savings program. Whomever you hire needs the facts so they can get down to serious work and be successful. You owe them your honesty to give the energy savings program a chance of working out to your company’s benefit.

Before the Study
Utility Bills: 
This is like the EKG for your building. Compile the bills and understand them. Know the patterns so you understand how much energy your building is using during the day, the night and season to season. Make a spreadsheet, trend the data and study it.

Metering: This is the calorie counter of your building. The biggest loads should be metered. You cannot save where you do not measure. ESCO’s of all stripes will implement metering strategies early on, so get this done to be in charge of baseline data and save money.

Equipment: Make a detailed list of every piece of energy consuming equipment in the building with all of its pertinent data. This quest to save energy can quickly move from merely saving money to asking yourself why you are behind on maintenance, since well-maintained equipment uses less energy. Get ROI quotes now.

Lighting: Knowing how everyone circulates through the building at every hour will help you to understand lighting needs within your facility. Carefully scheduling lighting patterns can far out-pace the payback period of a re-lamping project. Get quotes with pay-back periods for controls and re-lamping to compare.

Building Envelope: Invest in an infrared camera or have an IR scan done by a professional to know where the heat is going in your building. An IR scan may show an area that has been vexing you for years. Execute a plan to plug the holes, and do it now.

Controls Strategies: Make sure your building works well. This is the place where the ROI is typically the most attractive for energy projects.

Now you’ve got a list of things you can control, all you need is time and money. So, let’s look at what is really working against you (apart from time and budget crunches) in all of this.

Human Behavior
The occupants in your building are people. People have habits, both good and bad. It is nearly impossible to change these habits, especially when it comes to their work environment. All day employees give their sweat and effort, so they demand comfort. To better provide this comfort, ESCO’s need your common sense and understanding of the building and its occupants to truly weigh the validity of the Energy Savings Measures (ESM’s) they propose.

Handling energy in buildings is one of the biggest issues facing facilities managers, and most aim to become better stewards of the planet’s resources. No matter how old or what type of building you manage, there is something more you can do to make the energy spending go down. However, obtaining the money to implement it and the sheer will (and consensus) to make the changes are the biggest impediments to any challenge, that and the human behavior thing.


Source:  Facilities Magazine


Facing pressure to manage costs, risks and energy consumption, commercial building owners and investors are exploring how smart building technologies can help a company’s triple bottom line—people, planet, profits.

Five key trends are making smart buildings a “no-brainer” for commercial property owners and investors, according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s latest report, The Changing Face of Smart Buildings: The Op-Ex Advantage. “Commercial and public property owners are looking to smart building technology to boost operational efficiency, achieve energy savings, improve capital planning and reduce their carbon footprints,” says Dan Probst, JLL’s chairman of Energy and Sustainability Services. “These advantages, combined with tenant preferences for smart building features, provide a competitive edge for owners and investors.”

Five Reasons For Smart Building Investment

The report, which details the landscape for smart building technology, identifies five major trends:

1. Rapid Return On Investment
Smart building technology investments typically pay for themselves within one or two years by delivering energy savings and other operational efficiencies. Also driving the fast payback is the low cost of automated building technology, which has fallen as adaptation has increased. For example, intelligent lighting components that cost $120 four years ago today sell for just $50. Procter & Gamble’s building management pilot program, for example, generated a positive return on investment in just three months.

2. Operating-Expense Advantage
Relative to other energy-related building upgrades, smart building technology requires little upfront capital expenditure (cap-ex), while delivering significantly reduced operational expenditures (op-ex). Using automated systems, smart buildings generally cost less to operate  than buildings operating solely on legacy systems, therefore offering a long-term op-ex advantage. By combining smart building systems and data analytics with facilities management, a smart building management system can detect and resolve building issues before equipment failures and capital expenditures ensue. Additionally, operational and energy savings begin shortly after the smart building management system is implemented.

3. Marketing Mileage
As reported in JLL’s October 2012 “Global Sustainability Perspective,” numerous studies and surveys have demonstrated that tenants and their advisors increasingly expect smart building features such as zoned HVAC, sophisticated equipment maintenance alert systems, advanced security systems and “green” buildings. Like a new lobby or elevator bank, an improvement in sustainability makes an office building more desirable to tenants. These benefits can justify collecting higher rent and can increase competitive advantage and occupancy rates. And when the building is sold, sustainable investments can be recouped in an increased sales price. In fact, a 2011 study by Eichholtz, Kok and Quigley indicated the premium for LEED-certified or ENERGY STAR-labeled buildings is approximately 13%.

4. Energy Savings
Smart building technology can generate energy savings of 8% to 15% annually almost immediately after deployment, with the potential for incremental improvements over time. A 2012 report by the Rockefeller Foundation and Deutsche Bank Group’s DB Climate Change Advisors estimates that $289 billion in building efficiency investment would produce savings in excess of $1 trillion in the US alone, with every dollar invested in energy efficiency producing three dollars of operational savings.

5. Improved Corporate Social Responsibility Profile
Redirecting energy spend to building efficiency has allowed some corporate decision-makers to gain the reputational advantages of doing the right thing by the environment while also gaining significant performance and productivity improvements. Another benefit is a smart building system’s ability to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions. Some owners feed building emissions data to multiple benchmarking organizations, such as Greenprint and GRESB, as well as to Ceres and similar third-party reporting organizations, and smart systems can roll up the information from across a portfolio.


Source: GlobeSt

An 8,300-square-foot building operating as a fashion store for Guess in Miami Beach has sold for $12.5 million, which equates to $1,499 per square foot.

Marcus & Millichap represented the seller, a Miami-based owner/developer. The buyer, also represented by Marcus & Millichap, is an institutional investment group interested in building a South Florida retail portfolio.

“The building is a trophy retail asset located in the heart of the Collins Avenue fashion district,” said Drew Kristol, VP of investments in Marcus & Millichap’s Miami office. “Guess has occupied the property since 1998, and over the years has re-invested into their build-out. The new owner is an excellent position to capitalize on the below market in-place rental structure.”

The two-story building, located at 736 Collins Ave. between Seventh and Eighth streets in Miami Beach, was extensively remodeled in 1998 and has received complete interior renovations from Guess within the last 18 months.


Source: SFBJ

An $18 million plan to redevelop one of Coconut Grove’s most important waterfront parcels won approval from voters Tuesday.

The vote makes it possible for Grove Bay Investment Group to move forward with its plan to replace the Chart House and Scotty’s Landing and overhaul the Grove Key Marina that is located to the north of city hall.

The group, which is now able to sign a 50-year lease for the site, plans to locate new restaurants including Shula’s Steak House at the property. It will also restore and put to new use a pair of historic Pan Am hangars located there and build a promenade that will end at a new pier.

The city on Tuesday also began demolishing the Coconut Grove Exhibition Center to make way for a park. The area’s overall revitalization plan includes a public parking garage, with the developer contributing $5 million toward its construction, that would serve all the new facilities.


Source:  SFBJ


From Manhattan to Miami, foreign investors seeking U.S. visas are a growing source of real estate financing through the job-creating federal EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

To help developers navigate the program’s complex requirements and frustrating delays, veteran developer Rodrigo Azpúrua’s new book, EB-5 Visas & Real Estate Development, provides a step-by-step approach to create successful projects.

The book guides real estate professionals in designing and building commercial real estate projects that meet requirements of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) EB-5 program. It’s a financing method being used nationwide to fully or partially fund projects including office buildings, mixed-use centers and resorts.

“When traditional financing evaporated in 2008, the EB-5 program really came into its own,” explains Azpúrua, who has been responsible for managing over $200 million in land development projects that created about 1 million square feet of office space throughout Florida.  “For development teams who master the complexities, it’s great financing alternative,” he said.  “Funding is relatively low cost, since investors are more focused on finding a reliable project to secure their immigration status than on high returns.”

Foreign participation in the EB-5 program keeps climbing, from 1028 visa petitions in 2009 to a 6,041 in 2012, toward the government’s current annual cap of 10,000 visas.  Launched in the early 1990s, the program lets qualified foreign investors obtain conditional resident status (green card) for investing a minimum of $1 million in U.S. businesses, or $500,000 in an economically challenged Targeted Employment Area.  If the individual’s investment creates at least 10 jobs within two years, the government grants permanent U.S. residency.

The book’s readers will learn how to:

  • Establish a job-producing project concept that aligns with EB-5 regulations and investors’ needs.
  • Assemble the multi-disciplinary team crucial to secure funding and manage the process.
  • Gauge if a project should move forward, based on financial feasibility, site selection, due diligence and marketing planning.
  • Understand EB-5 requirements, the Immigrant Investor Visa process and who can apply.
  • Evaluate job-creation projections, based on USCIS precedent and econometric analysis.
  • Create the highly disciplined business plan needed for government approval.
  • Reduce investor risk at every stage of the project.

Azpúrua brings life to the technical topic, sharing his first-hand development and immigration experiences.

An attorney who practiced real estate law for 14 years in his native Venezuela, he immigrated to the U.S. in 2001 and launched his development career in Miami.  He travels regularly to speak about EB-5 investment to audiences in the U.S., South America and China, and he has appeared as an expert on the subject in media including CNN and Fox News.

For information visit

Adam Von Romer, CCIM, Senior Investment Associate at Fitzgerald Group also has a new book on the shelves, “Getting Started in Commercial Real Estate Ten Step Program to Success!“ The book was co-authored by Von Romer and Patricia O’Connor.

Adam has taught or spoken for national and regional companies and associations such as Tandy/Radio Shack, Wiechert Realty, Marcus & Millichap, Coldwell Banker, Century 21, ERA, the Florida Association of Realtors, West Virginia Career College, and many more. He routinely conducts workshops and seminars on commercial real estate sales, commercial real estate leasing, commercial real estate financing,and commercial mortgage restructuring and modification.


The South Florida Office market ended the third quarter 2013 with a vacancy rate of 13.5%.

The vacancy rate was down over the previous quarter, with net absorption totaling positive 551,507 square feet in the third quarter. That compares to positive 769,100 square feet in the second quarter 2013. Vacant sublease space decreased in the quarter, ending the quarter at 722,903 square feet.

Tenants moving into large blocks of space in 2013 include: Miami Herald Media Company moving into 158,266 square feet at 3511 NW 91st Ave; Management Resources Institute moving into 40,000 square feet at 550 LeJeune Rd; and Aldridge Connors moving into 39,788 square feet at 1615 S Congress Ave.

Rental rates ended the third quarter at $26.04, a decrease over the previous quarter.

A total of three buildings delivered to the market in the quarter totaling 31,512 square feet, with 812,735 square feet still under construction at the end of the quarter.

This trend is compared to the U.S. National Office vacancy rate, which decreased to 11.6% from the previous quarter, with net absorption positive 23.48 million square feet in the third quarter. Average rental rates increased to $21.75, and 244 office buildings delivered to the market totaling more than 12.2 million square feet.


Source:  CoStar