0 Tenants Returning to Boston Offices Will Find A Strange New World

By Dees Stribling | Bisnow | April 27, 2020

Most Boston commercial space is now empty, but the time is approaching when many or most workers return, perhaps in shifts or only a few days a week.

Property managers are already trying to sort out the transition, speakers on Bisnow’s health and safety in property management webinar Thursday said. The details of bringing people back into commercial space in an orderly and safe way aren’t clear. One thing is clear: It won’t be easy.

Most space in Downtown and in Cambridge is empty, with commercial occupancy below 5%, though occupancy is higher than that in a few pockets, such as life science space, Lincoln Property Co. Vice President of Property Management Scott Rickards said.

“We’re planning for re-occupancy at some point after May 4,” Rickards said. “Could be sooner, we hope. We’re fielding an increasing amount of questions every day from tenants about what they can expect.”

Personal responsibility is going to be critically important to making re-occupancy work, Rickards said.

“We all know people who go to work sick, and that’s what we really can’t have,” he said. “Every company has to be responsible for its employees, and every individual responsible for themselves.”

The focus now, EBI Consulting Director of Environmental Health & Safety Karla King said, is how company policies can evolve to address the future re-entry. Some companies have specific issues, such as those needing to deal with COVID-19 cases at their buildings, while others are simply trying to devise forward-looking planning.

“We’re working closely with some of our clients, evaluating current housekeeping and programs and getting an understanding of high-touch and common spaces,” King said.

In the case of a building with a suspected COVID-19 case, each instance is evaluated based on when it happened and how isolated the space is, King said. Then her company works with the client to identify or evaluate a cleaning company, looking closely at its cleaning products and protocols.

Even without a COVID-19 case, tenants who plan to return need to formulate detailed plans, King said.

“What PPE are people going to be bringing or wearing to the office, mandated by state or federal officials, or by their own choice?” she said. “Where are they going to dispose of their PPE?”

Boston Realty Advisors Managing Principal Wil Catlin, who moderated the webinar, asked whether some landlords will have stricter requirements regarding PPE than others.

“At some level, there needs to be baseline standards,” he said.

PPE use will vary according to the use of the space and how much common space there is, King said, adding that common areas and high-touch spaces are going to be the biggest areas of concern for property managers.

“That’s one thing to communicate to tenants: the importance of everyone controlling their space,” King said.

Property managers can’t be responsible for the cleanliness of every specific desk or other personal area, King said, since it is largely out of their control. Instead, they will be more concerned with common spaces, such as gyms, cafeterias, restrooms and reception areas.

Catlin also asked about security procedures in a post-pandemic environment, specifically how buildings will handle front desks and check-ins. Technology is a longer-term answer to security, Rickards said, and some Class-A buildings probably already have the tech in place to go touchless.

“There are some apps that work with security systems so that your phone has a unique identity, and you can walk into the building, and it knows your app,” Rickards said.

But most Boston real estate doesn’t have that kind of sophistication yet, he said. In many small lobbies, social distancing won’t even be possible.

“So there will be a lot of workarounds, and that’s going to extend the need for PPE,” Rickards said. “You’re going to need to have a mask on, and maybe gloves. Can we come up with a way to show an ID so that no one else touches it? It might be a rudimentary as the security guard doing all the writing. It’s going to be complicated.”

0 Bruins’ Practice Facility in Brighton gets Finishing Touches

hockey stick for bruins practice facility in Brighton

Credit: CBS

What is 68 feet tall and weighs in over 7,000 pounds? A giant hockey stick that will reside at the new practice facility of the Boston Bruins in Brighton, MA.

From CBS Local:

The replica stick, made of steel, was constructed by Diamond Iron Works in Lawrence. Owner Steve Doherty said that getting the blade to look right was the most difficult part for the 12.5:1-scale stick.

“We got about 450 man hours into fabricating the stick,” said Doherty.

The Boston Bruins said in a release that the area will be open to the public when the Warrior Ice Arena opens in September.

0 New Converse Building Sold for $150M

Converse Building in Brighton MA

Credit: B&T

Boston is getting a new landlord: a German pension fund just purchased the new Converse HQ in Brighton, MA. Boston continues to see an inflow into all asset classes against all price points.

Lovejoy Wharf:
• 232,000 Square Feet
• 197,000 of office
• 45,000 of retail
• 23,200 is the typical floor size
• 10 Stories

A Banker&Tradesman article notes that “at $800 per square foot, the transaction [for Boston’s Lovejoy Wharf] is slightly higher than the $750 per foot range for Class A office buildings that have sold in Boston this year. Approximately $8 billion in Greater Boston office deals have taken place in 2015, including nearly three-quarters to foreign investors.”

You can read more on the sale of the new Converse HQ on Banker&Tradesman, here.

0 Month-to-Month Office Space

The workforce that rides to work on our public transpiration and roadways if very different today than it was 10 years ago.  Shared workspace environments like WeWork have changed how business’s get up and running and reduced some of the barriers to going out on your own.

0 How to Price Out your New Office Space

So, you have just secured your next round of funding and you are off to the races.  As part of your upcoming spend, you need to get an office that exudes the culture of your vision while being easily accessible for your growing team.  You find it and your new headquarters will be in the heart of Downtown Crossing, DTX.  What’s next, what are the associated costs?

office cost projections
Figure the space is 3,600 rentable square feet with 25 workstations.

how to price out office space in Boston
Office space is quoted per square foot per annum, but P & L’s are not.  The following breaks down the all the various expenses based 5 years of occupancy.

0 Boston Landing Along the Mass Pike to House Bruins’ New Practice Rink

Bruins mixed use practice facility in Brighton

Credit: Boston Herald

Not just tech companies are looking for new space, the  Bruins are coming to Boston Landing along the Pike. Combined with a new commuter rail station, our city continues to expand and offer services that address our growth.

The Boston Herald notes, “the Boston Bruins’ new Hub practice rink stands to get a prime location along the Mass Pike in New Balance’s $500 million Boston Landing project…Pending permitting approvals, New Balance hopes to start construction on the 75,000-square-foot rink complex — and an adjacent nine-story office building with a ground-floor Bruins pro-shop and other retail — no later than November, much earlier than the original planned spring start date…The Bruins’ practice facility will have seating for about 650 spectators, a VIP area, function room and concessions. It also will include locker rooms, a lounge, a strength and conditioning/rapid shot area, training rooms, video and conference areas and offices for the Bruins.”

More information on the project, along with the Bruins’ practice facilities, are available on the Boston Herald.

0 Boston Roadways Lag Behind the Real Estate

Allston Interchange project

Credit: MassDOT

This major intersection was last updated 49 years ago on February 18, 1965.  The requirements of our roadways are vastly different now and we need to take a proactive look toward the next 50 years as Boston and Cambridge continue to grow in both workforce and population.

Banker & Tradesman reports that “recently, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation convened a task force of about 50 members to advise the state on the redesign for the “Allston Interchange,” the spaghetti bowl of ramps and tollbooths in the middle of the rail yard adjacent to the Charles River and a neighborhood of houses and businesses.”

Additional information on the Allston Interchange is provided in the B&T article, here.