One Of The NYC’s Largest Commercial Landlords Is Going Millennial Friendly With Its 159 East Building
A millennial make-overs are changing the face of midtown Manhattan. Boston Properties, a major player in the city’s commercial real estate industry, is part of the process.
Midtown Manhattan office blocks are having an identity crisis. They are feeling unloved. Was a time when the old chestnut of “location, location, location” was enough to keep workers flowing through their austere, tiled lobbies. No more. Construction is afoot, development is happening and a whole neighborhood is attempting a rebranding.
“It used to be you could have a nice office space and that was enough to attract tenants,” said Boston Properties (one of the NYC’s largest commercial landlords) executive vice president to Crains. “That’s not enough anymore. You need to create a place where people will enjoy spending their time around work, a place with amenities and energy.”
Blame millennials, blame Google or the work/life balance books flooding the market but many of today’s work force view much of midtown Manhattan as passé as a MySpace account. Thus, thousands of square feet sit as empty as a coastal church in winter.
But midtown is striking back. One building, 159 E. 53rd St., is taking on areas like Hudson Yards, Soho and The Flatiron at their own game. It’s a small property in an area of behemoths but Boston Properties, which owns it, as well as the neighboring 399 Park Ave hope its diminutive size can be a blessing, giving a medium sized tenant the chance at branding the building.
“This is the kind of space for a tenant that wants to be in midtown and still wants to attract a millennial workforce who might normally prefer to be in an area like midtown south,” said Andrew Levin, a senior vice president at Boston Properties who is working with Powers to oversee a dramatic renovation.
With a cost of $150 million, improvements include a new facade, new private lobby and a revamp of a sunken public plaza on the corner of 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue. There will also be a new entrance along East 53rd St offering increased street accessibility to the below-grade food hall via a large stairway. A new private lobby will service the five office floors above. The mantra: Light, airy and welcoming. It follows the precedent set by other landlords, making their properties destinations beyond the office space being leased above. Hudson Eats, a popular food hall was notably opened by Brookfield Properties at its downtown office complex, Brookfield Place.
Now all landlords are getting the message. Across the street from 159 E. 59th St, Boston Properties’ 399 Park Avenue is being cloaked with a new metal facade, entrance way, a roof garden and a new glass-walled office floor on top of a large set back at the property. The city’s major transit hubs — Penn Station, the Port Authority Bus Terminal and Grand Central are all in various stages of overhaul, while glassy, gleaming towers create a new skyline. Increasingly mid-town Manhattan has been the unloved step daughter of the cities hot neighborhoods. It’s about to get its glass slipper.
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