By Bret Bunnett
When Klyde Warren Park was built over Woodall Rodgers Freeway in 2012, few realized the impact it would have. The 5-acre park, which provided a much-needed link between Uptown and downtown Dallas, exponentially increased the value of existing surrounding properties. It also showed building owners just how valuable green-space could be. Developers of new projects in the neighborhood, from McKinney & Olive to Park District, made sure to incorporate green amenities into their plans.
The trend is now spreading to existing properties throughout North Texas, with investors making green space a major part of their redevelopment strategies. They know these natural features give them an edge in luring new tenants to their buildings. Studies show that green space is one of the most desired yet underprovided office amenity in the market today.
Here’s a look at four impressive examples:
An icon on the Dallas skyline, Fountain Place is currently undergoing a massive $70 million redevelopment, on behalf of owner Goddard Investment Group and designed by James Carpenter Design Associates, along with Gensler’s Austin office. Improvements encompass a complete replacement of all lobby finishes and the removal of the mezzanine level, which will vault the ceiling to 30 feet; a floor-to-ceiling glass-wall feature, custom-designed by renowned artist John Lewis; an expansive indoor/outdoor tenant lounge at the north end of the lobby; a new fitness center with spa-like locker room facilities; and a state-of-the-art training room overlooking the Plaza area, that can accommodate up to 150 people. One of the most ambitious aspects of the project is the careful renovation of the building’s signature fountains. A master work of renowned landscape architect Dan Kiley, the fountains have become a beloved natural sanctuary in Dallas. The redevelopment of the fountains preserves the sanctity of Kiley’s work and enhances it with additional seating areas and walkways that extend all the way to Munger Street. The fountains now provide a one-of-a-kind nature respite in the heart of downtown, and link Fountain Place with up to four restaurants opening on the street level of a new 10-story garage. C&W brokers Johnny Johnson and Lauren Napper say the renovations have been key in securing nearly 500,000 square feet in lease renewals.
Spear Street Capital acquired this four-building, 800,000-square-foot campus in Richardson with the knowledge that State Farm would be vacating three of the four buildings and relocating to a new office development at CityLine. Spear Street’s plan was to reenergize the property by pulling the best elements of other assets it redeveloped in the Silicon Valley and Austin to create an environment that gives tenants the tools they need to attract and retain employees. The end result? A completely wifi-enabled office campus that has unique outdoor and indoor space, providing multiple places to work, dine, exercise, and collaborate. The star of the show at the “California cool” complex is an expansive outdoor area that includes multiple dining and meeting settings, an outdoor kitchen, bocce ball courts, fire pit, bicycle check-out stations, and a food truck court. It also includes a stage and amphitheater for large company events that’s capable of accommodating several thousand people. The incredible outdoor amenities helped convince Service King to move its headquarters to Galatyn Commons, says C&W’s Chris Taylor, who leases the property along with Peleton’s Russ Johnson. They also helped secure recent leases from Goldman Sachs, Raytheon, and CBRE IT.
Leasing activity has been brisk at Mandalay Towers in Las Colinas, following a multimillion-dollar upgrade at the three-tower, 811,000-square-foot project. With its location along Mandalay Canal and Lake Carolyn in the Urban Center, the campus already offered unique walkable and natural amenities. Owner Parmenter took things to a new level with Mandalay Park, which sits in the center of the three office buildings. What previously was a dated courtyard is now an expansive, wifi-enabled outdoor amenity with a fire pit, open-air kitchen, seating and dining areas, an elevated platform with an arbor and collaboration seating, a koi pond and other water features, and a Thermory wood walking trail. New tenants at Mandalay Towers, leased by C&W’s Rodney Helm, Chris Taylor, and Christy Thelen, include Adeptus Health and GridLiance, a Blackstone Group affiliate that relocated its headquarters to Las Colinas from Chicago.
2400 N. Glenville
Q Real Estate acquired a 400,000-square-foot former Verizon campus in the Telecom Corridor in 2015, with the goal of redeveloping it into a multitenant complex. Its four buildings, which are interconnected, sit on more than 36 acres that run along Spring Creek and are adjacent to the Spring Creek Nature Preserve, a 51-acre park with hike-and-bike trails that meander through a hardwood forest. As part of its multimillion-dollar renovation, Q Real Estate wanted to leverage this fabulous outdoor amenity. It created an expansive open courtyard with collaboration areas and wifi access, so employees can go outside and still stay connected to their offices. The new tagline for the property is, “Where nature works.” Cushman & Wakefield’s Trey Smith and Clint Madison recently leased space to law firm Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP, which is moving to Richardson from Uptown, and NICE Systems Technology Inc., with other deals in the works.
Executive Managing Director Bret Bunnett leads Investor Services for Cushman & Wakefield in Dallas.