The first new apartment community in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood in nearly 30 years opened its doors recently. The Metro Lofts project consists of three 5-story buildings with 213 loft-style apartments and retail space totaling 214,000 square feet. Owned by Conrad Properties Corp. and designed by Clayton, MO-based Louis R. Saur & Associates Inc., the $26-million Metro Lofts apartments were constructed in an area of dense residential development bounded on one side by a major thoroughfare. Construction took place in a tight area, with St. Louis-based McCarthy Building Cos. serving as the general contractor.
Rexall Centre Lures World-Class Tennis to Canada
After years of providing meager facilities for international tennis, Canada now attracts world-class competitions with its new Rexall Centre complex. The 12,500-seat outdoor stadium, located in Toronto, houses a player’s lounge with ping pong, billiards, and video games; a rehabilitation/treatment room; oversized lockers for players; and Tennis Canada and Ontario Tennis Association headquarters.
The audience will appreciate the ideal sightlines provided by Toronto-based Robbie/Young + Wright Architects’ (RYW) design. With a goal of creating a “relationship” between player and spectator – providing the essence of a good stadium – the bowl-like structure features a parabolic curve; seating rows start with a low rise that gets increasingly steeper as rows ascend. Viewers can see elements of the run-out area (the boundary around the play area), as well as the court. “Spectators will be as close as they can be to the play without impeding it,” says Richard Young, principal-in-charge at RYW. “The crowd energizes the players and vice versa. This creates the visual and noise atmosphere inside the bowl.” The new facility also features a concourse high enough so viewers can circulate inside the bowl or stand and watch without disturbing players – a characteristic replicated from the old stadium.
The adjacent Compass Group Centre of Excellence has 16 courts – half of them are enclosed, including four courts in hard structures and four in air-supported bubbles. The centre hosts community programs, provincial team training, coaching certification courses, and national and provincial high-performance programs.
A Healthy Glow
When the Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in Chula Vista, CA, decided to modernize its intensive care unit (ICU), the hospital and design professionals wanted to create a warm, comforting, healing space. For patients who may spend weeks or months in this space recovering from serious illnesses, the unit had to be soothing. For staff members, the intensive care unit needed an efficient layout.
Located in the seventh fastest-growing community in the country, the hospital’s intensive care unit needed to grow and to improve to meet demand. Architectural firm Schmidt Scanlon Gordon of San Diego and interior design firm Interspec Consulting Services of Vienna, VA, used a garden theme throughout the unit to designate family areas and designed a wayfinding path for guests and staff members.
Amtico Oriental Slates, Firestone Slate, and Concrete in various designs were used in the project to create a calm environment rich in natural earth tones. The flooring delineates key areas while providing ease of maintenance. Now that the ICU is finished, the unit has become the pride of the hospital by emphasizing family involvement during the recovery process.
Optimism in Leasing Market Climbs
Investors have caught the spirit of leasing-inspired optimism over interest rate-inspired pessimism, according to a study conducted by Grubb & Ellis Co., PNC Real Estate Finance, and Real Capital Analytics.
The report – “Rationalizing High Prices: Is the Office Market Ready to Implode?” –
examines the office investment market. Findings are based on an analysis of leasing and capital markets data along with formal interviews of leading real estate investors and brokers nationwide.
“Rising interest rates have convinced owners that if they plan to sell in the next 2 years, now is the time to do it. Supply is finally starting to catch up with investor demand,” says Robert Bach, national director of market analysis at Grubb & Ellis.
Highlights of the report include:
Forty (40) percent of the 83 Grubb & Ellis office investment brokers who answered the survey believed that the improved leasing market is prompting buyers to be more aggressive in their bidding, while 22.5 percent thought that rising interest rates are making buyers more conservative.
Almost $15 billion of significant office properties changed hands in the second quarter, representing an 84-percent increase year-over-year.
The real estate debt market remains as liquid as for equity. If anything, over the past 6 months, competition among lenders has increased, loan spreads have narrowed, and other loan terms are also improving.
The full report is available online at (www.grubb-ellis.com).
‘Most Outdated Office’ is Transformed from Frumpy to Fabulous
No longer will employees at Mad Science of Scottsdale, AZ, have to spend countless hours trying to produce documents, sit in flimsy furniture, or rummage through makeshift filing cabinets. Xerox Corp.’s and Entrepreneur magazine’s “Help! My Office is Obsolete!” office makeover contest with Thom Filicia, an interior designer from the Emmy-nominated show, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” has just revealed Mad Science’s dramatic technology and design makeover.
Selected from more than 450 entries, Mad Science stood out as the “most obsolete office” in terms of technology, business processes, and design. For 2 weeks, Mad Science, a children’s science education provider, underwent a complete overhaul and is now modernized with new interior design furnishings from The HON Co., and new document technology and software.
Before the transformation, Mad Science employees spent long hours producing program materials, struggling with slow inkjet printers, outdated computer systems, and a cumbersome office set-up. “It was unproductive and expensive,” notes Jack Hamlett, co-owner, Mad Science. “Now we can focus on work and easily create everything we need right here in our new functional office.”
Filicia and a team of designers from his New York City-based firm Thom Filicia Inc. gave a new look to this office space. With color-coordinated, outdoors-inspired khaki and green carpet, shale blue paint, and textured bamboo wallpaper, Mad Science now looks more natural and organic.
New office furnishings from The HON Co. replaced the old, recycled furnishings that have resided at Mad Science for years. HON’s award-winning Perpetual™ line of office furniture, with its clean lines, simplicity, and light maple veneers, has defined work areas in the office while adding function and flexibility since the pieces can be moved and reconfigured easily. New storage space has been added, including filing cabinets, drawers, and shelving.
Xerox consultants also visited Mad Science to assess its work processes, office technology, and document needs. The assessment identified ways to streamline the company’s document-intensive processes, like creating course materials, training manuals, and promotions fliers – activities that were costing Mad Science thousands of dollars each month in time and materials.
“That’s a big hit for a small company,” explains Diane McGarry, chief marketing officer, Xerox. “Small changes in the office can mean big boosts in productivity. What many companies don’t realize is that they can uncover hidden costs and save thousands of dollars a year by focusing on the way work flows through their operations.”
Additional support for the office makeover was provided by BEHR Paints, Constantine Carpet, Environmental Graphics, Pier 1 Imports, and SA Maxwell.
New Handbook Addresses Security for Property and Facility Professionals
Arnold, MD-based BOMI Institute teamed with Jane’s Information Group, Alexandria, VA, a world-leading source of intelligence and analysis on national and international defense, security, and risk development, to provide Jane’s Property & Facility Managers’ Workplace Security Handbook to the marketplace.
Everyone knows that security is a top concern for today’s commercial property and facility managers. This handbook helps organizations prepare for, respond to, and recover from workplace threats. Short, easy-to-follow chapters teach professionals to anticipate a wide range of threats, including:
Understandable directions are provided for protecting facilities and personnel, implementing emergency procedures, communicating during a crisis, and dealing with the aftermath of an emergency. The handbook also contains sample security policies that organizations can adapt and use.
“Recent events, such as 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, demonstrate that security needs to be a fundamental part of each organization’s operations,” says BOMI Institute President Dan Baum. “Property and facility managers are in key positions to foster workplace security, and this new handbook can help them be proactive in planning and implementing effective security measures. Doing so will help protect an organization’s personnel and its bottom line.”
To obtain a copy of the handbook, contact BOMI Institute at (800) 235-BOMI.
On the Road to Success
The Illinois Tollway Oases project is well under way; the first two redesigned Oases opened in mid-July. The project involves extensive redevelopment of the Illinois Tollway’s seven aging motorist rest stops (Oases). National real estate developer Wilton Partners (based in Los Angeles with a regional office in Chicago) and ExxonMobil are investing $100 million in capital to transform the Tollway’s 40-year-old dilapidated Oases into state-of-the-art destinations. The first two Oases now open are the O’Hare Oasis near O’Hare Intl. Airport on the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), and the Belvidere Oasis on the Northwest Tollway (I-90) in Rockford. The new Oases are brighter, loftier, and more open – designed to be inviting, interactive public spaces for customers. “The opening of the first two Oases confirmed what we already knew – we made the right choice in forging a public-private partnership with Wilton Partners and ExxonMobil to redevelop the Oases,” says Jack Hartman, executive director of the Illinois Tollway. All seven of the Oases will be completed and open by the end of 2005.
NAIOP Names Developer of the Year
Minneapolis-based United Properties will receive the 2004 Developer of the Year Award from the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP).
Given annually to one developer nationwide that best exemplifies leadership and innovation in the commercial real estate market, the Developer of the Year Award is determined by a five-member selection committee of industry peers that uses six criteria to evaluate entries: industry and business leadership, involvement in NAIOP, quality of products and services, financial consistency and stability, ability to adapt to market conditions, and social consciousness.
According to United Properties President and Chief Executive Officer Boyd B. Stofer, “United Properties is honored to receive the distinguished Developer of the Year Award. We have found that our model of being a diversified, full-service commercial real estate firm has given us the competitive edge to succeed in today’s challenging marketplace. For our peers to acknowledge our company’s success is truly an honor.”
Since the company’s inception in 1916, United Properties has grown dramatically and is now one of the largest commercial real estate companies in the Midwest. The company owns or manages a portfolio in excess of 26 million square feet. It employs 400 people in its three-pronged platform of development, investment, and real estate services.
“United Properties’ ability to succeed in this challenging business environment is a great testament and validation of the company’s business strategy, strategic vision, and ability
to execute,” notes Stephen Crosby, NAIOP national chairman and president at CSX Real Property in Florida. “United’s unwavering focus on its customers is one factor that allows the company to deliver the consistent, long-term performance that has become its hallmark.”
Comprehensive Multifamily Green Building Guidelines Issued
For the first time in California, multifamily green building guidelines are available to building managers, developers, architects, and builders. KEMA, an independent company providing consulting, testing, inspection, and certification to businesses in the energy industry with North American headquarters in Burlington, MA, completed the guidelines for the Alameda County Waste Management Authority (ACWMA).
While created specifically to provide Alameda County building team members with technical expertise, the ACWMA Multifamily Green Building Guidelines provide a wealth of great information to facilities professionals nationwide. The guidelines offer cost-effective solutions to minimize construction-related waste, create healthier and more durable residences, and reduce operating costs for owners. Information on the benefits of supporting area manufacturers and suppliers of resource-efficient building materials is also provided. Available online, the guidelines can be downloaded from the website (www.multifamilygreen.org).