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Repositioning a commercial office building is never an inexpensive proposition. At a minimum, the landlord has to make an investment to boost the curb appeal of the building — revitalizing the lobby and dressing up the exterior. For SL Green Realty Corp., those cosmetic improvements are only the beginning, says Edward V. Piccinich, executive vice president of the firm.
“You can have a good looking car, but if it can’t run, no one will want it and you’ll degrade your brand,” he says. “It’s the same thing with a building. You can have a beautiful-looking lobby, but the infrastructure has to meet tenant needs as well.”
SL Green bills itself as New York City’s largest office landlord. The REIT’s goals: to acquire, manage and maximize the value of Manhattan commercial properties. That approach has given the company plenty of experience in redeveloping office buildings. “That’s our sweet spot,” says Piccinich.
The company acquires buildings with a long-term plan in mind — a minimum of 10 years. That plan — based on keeping existing anchor tenants or improving the tenant roll — drives the redevelopment of the building. While the plan is different for each building, a lobby renovation is a given. “We want to create a ‘wow’ factor, says Piccinich. “People should be as excited about where they work as they are about the work they do.”
A recent and striking case in point is the redevelopment of 1515 Broadway. The centerpiece of the work was installation of an enormous custom-designed glass wall made of blocks of Schott glass that resemble slabs of ice, each unique in its design. The wall, which can be illuminated at night, contains 900 glass blocks and weighs close to 60 tons. The other walls are clad in white Lens limestone from France; custom bamboo ceiling panels mark the elevator lobbies. Outside are new stainless steel and glass storefronts and canopies, plus gray Pietra di Bedonia stone paving that continues into the lobby.
But the work didn’t stop at the ground floor. Elevators were modernized, and the HVAC system, the sprinklers, the fire alarm system and restrooms were upgraded. The existing façade was restored, while new energy efficient window film was installed.
The redevelopment was completed well in advance of the expiration of anchor tenant Viacom’s lease. The payoff: Viacom not only renewed its lease on 1.4 million square feet, but will expand to 1.6 millions square feet over the term of the lease, making the deal the largest in New York City in the past 25 years.
For SL Green, Office Building Repositioning Goes Beyond Curb Appeal