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Commercial office amenities get a new lease on life

Property owners embrace events, programming to help revitalize office work culture
Bark Park is one of the events Hudson Pacific Properties has invested in to create a unique experience employees wouldn’t get if they worked from home | Photo: Hudson Pacific Properties

Commercial real estate companies in Vancouver are increasingly investing in amenities as tenants attempt to attract employees back to the office. 

Beyond bike racks, coffee corners and the standard amenities expected i n Class A or AAA spaces, some commercial landlords are going above and beyond to retain and attract tenants in physical office spaces. 

“From the commercial real estate side, it’s about being as flexible and adaptable as possible so you can respond to what your tenants need and deliver that,” said Damian Stathonikos, president of Building Owners and Managers Association of BC (BOMA BC). 

In some cases, this includes efforts to re-activate commercial spaces with events and initiatives that draw people back to in-person work. 

“That's where commercial landlords are stepping up their game,” Stathonikos said. “You’re seeing a lot of the more sophisticated landlords also looking at how to activate the space in and around the building. It’s not just coming in because it’s a nice office, but coming in because there’s a cool thing happening.” 

Hudson Pacific Properties, for example, added arts and culture amenities to its Bentall Centre Campus. 

It also created Bark Park, an off-leash dog space on the roof of the campus parkade. 

Bringing more activities to the space – for the purpose of attracting employees – is a priority, said Ashley Chandler, Hudson Pacific’s program manager. She added that Bark Park has been so successful that it has been opened to the public, and the space is now a location for events. 

“The need for everyday human connection has become even greater since the onset of the pandemic, and we are focused on re-engaging our tenants through programming to merge the office experience with hospitality. We aim to bring the comforts of home to work while also providing things you can’t get working remotely,” said Chandler in a written statement to BIV. 

“Happy hours on the sunsoaked plazas, workshops to interact with the property’s edible gardens and beehives, networking opportunities through the Bentall Women’s Network and art gallery receptions are just a few events and amenities offered at Bentall Centre.” 

Hudson Pacific has been working closely with the City of Vancouver on its engagement projects. According to Chandler, this offers an example of how the city can work with property owners to enhance downtown spaces. 

Oxford Properties offers fitness spaces, running clubs, and scotch-and-suit events at The Stack. According to Ted Mildon, the company’s senior director of office leasing, unique events are key to a good amenities space. 

“The real opportunity for landlords is to work on the programming side. And for those who have the amenity piece in place already, it’s an even better starting point to get the programming going and really foster those connections with tenants,” he said. 

“The theory is that because we’re a branch-office city, typically with smaller tenants, those tenants don’t have the ability to bring those services within their actual lease premises and they have to rely on it as something that’s offered by the landlord. So, it’s always been needed.” 

Post-peak pandemic, the way that tenants use space is fundamentally different, Chandler said, which she says means that the activation of commercial spaces and the industry’s focus on amenities will continue to grow. 

“Office workers have gained flexibility in choosing where and when they work,” she said. “Landlords are now being challenged to ‘earn the commute.’ Our goal is to bring life to work.”■