The ‘How to’ Retrofit for Tech Tenants



In Flatiron, there is heavy demand for office space by technology tenants of every sort. The issue (and advantage) for building owners is that many of these office buildings were built at the beginning of the 20th Century. As such, building owners are faced with a challenge: How do they meet tenants’ needs?

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There has been a lot of discussion about how sustainability, and energy saving costs, can make certain buildings more efficient. A good example is how Malkin Properties retrofitted the Empire State Building.

But there is not as much talk about how to retrofit a building for Internet capability, which is obviously a key for any tenant nowadays.

ABS Real Estate Partners, currently marketing two 13,387 RSF full floors at 915 Broadway, is a case study of how to make a 1920s asset primed for connectivity.

Alex Kaskel, a director at ABS, is familiar with the issue. He told us, “Tech tenants want something that is difficult to recreate. They want something that is cool, modern, new, but looks and feels authentic. They want something original.”

This can be a challenge for a lot of companies, but firms like ABS are finding ways to adapt older buildings to newer ways.

One relevant terminology is BIoT, or “Building Internet of Things.” It was a big topic at a recent conference held by Realcomm, which is one of the largest technology and real estate conferences in the country.

The CEO of Realcomm, Jim Young, recently said, “This new way of thinking about real estate, overlaying an IT network, connecting all our traditionally unconnected equipment, monitoring, analyzing and controlling business processes (integrating with ERP’s) without much human intervention, will lead to much better managed assets, which translates to happier occupants and improved finances.”

This shows that it’s not a simple task to undertake, but that is the changing face of what office-building owners and managers need to tackle.

There is no indication that commercial real estate tenants will not want ultra-fast connectivity services to be online.

These tenants want speed in many ways, such as the build out of spaces. In the words of Kaskel, “One big challenge is building space fast enough. Tenants want to be in the space yesterday.”

This reality bodes well for tenants and landlords. There is obviously a demand for tech-friendly spaces and older buildings that have character. Embracing the challenges of technology that companies have to face will only make the synergy between the two more compatible, as exemplified at 915 Broadway.