Old is New: Repositioning Older Buildings for New Users

Although the trend for certain user groups is to move to new construction and developments such as those in and near Hudson Yards, older buildings still offer significant benefits, not the least of which is location. The convenience of having retail, restaurants and public transportation hubs nearby is a luxury that many of the newer developments lack. But through strategic renovations and repositioning, commercial property owners have opportunities that can ensure their buildings remain competitive in today’s volatile real estate environment.

From the outset, modernized street level retail presence with glass facades and inviting entrances encourage foot traffic. Lobbies renovated with contemporary interiors and lighter color palettes will continue to attract new tenants. Updated common areas, refurbished elevator cabs, ADA-compliant bathrooms and upgraded mechanicals are also conducive to tenant retention. Equally effective from a marketing standpoint, is the inclusion of contemporary tenant amenities, such as furnished rooftop decks, fitness centers, communal lounges with pantries, and secured bike storage. Fortunately, many older properties were built with expansive below-grade space that can accommodate these extra features.

As important as are attractive street presence and modernized common areas, actual infrastructure upgrades are key. HSP Real Estate Group’s recent reinvention of 251 West 30th Street serves as a benchmark, thanks to comprehensive interior overhauls such as ductless air conditioning and heating systems, Class E fire alarm systems and center-core BUS duct electrical wiring. Available office space was designed to include open floor plans and such features as concrete floors, exposed ceilings and contemporary kitchens. We also had building-wide fiber optic internet service installed to ensure the fastest internet connectivity.

When looking at the big picture, repositioning older buildings for new tenants works as a means of future-proofing prewar, mid-century through 1990s commercial properties. Combined with the intrinsic value of location, renovating older office buildings to appeal to new generations of tenants ensures long-term success on the market.