Commercial real estate owners are increasingly looking to harness touch- free technology for their office tenants to help slow the spread of Covid-19, and Marx Realty is no exception.
Well, maybe a slight exception when it comes to who’s doing the touching.
The New York-based commercial real estate firm has kicked off a $41 million renovation to the former Washington Times-Herald building at 1307 New York Ave. NW after acquiring it earlier in 2020. The finished product will include plenty of technology and
other improvements to keep the virus from spreading via high- touch surfaces such as door handles or elevator buttons. But it is also turning to an older form of touch-free service many commercial real estate owners shifted away from years ago: a uniformed doorman.
In addition to the doorman to greet visitors and tenants, the building will feature curated mood music, oak wood flooring, even a specialized scent infused into the building’s common areas through the duct work. In marketing materials, the developer boasts The Herald will be a “hospitality-infused office like no other.”
The pandemic has accelerated many commercial real estate trends that were already in the works previously, including a shift toward hospitality and the need for building owners to create spaces that will stand out from the crowd. Craig Deitelzweig, president and CEO of Marx, hopes to do that by creating the sort of environment that makes employees want to come back into the office again after months of working from home.
“I think that’s what it takes to bring people back to work,” Deitelzweig said. “All of it is geared toward making you feel good and that going to work is more like checking into a hotel. It will look very much like a hotel. It will also have a real D.C. sensibility to it, with walnut, velvet, fluted columns, and real wood floors in a herringbone pattern.”
Deitelzweig joined Marx in 2017 after heading up the office division for another high-end New York landlord, Rockrose, which sought to elevate the bar with projects like its renovations to 1776 Eye St.
NW. He is bullish on the future of office and believes that, after months of working remotely, many employees are itching to get back to work once conditions permit their safe return.
Marx retained Studios Architecture to help create those conditions at The Herald, which will include features like individual exercise rooms with antimicrobial bronze paneling and mirrors to ensure people feel comfortable using common area amenities like the fitness center. Other amenities will include The Boardroom, a walnut-paneled meeting room with seating for 30, and the Bouvier Club, a club floor featuring an outdoor, European-style patio and a cafe, among other things. The club floor is named after Jacqueline Bouvier, who was known as “the Inquiring Camera Girl” at the Herald long before she became First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
The building, which includes plenty of other nods to its newspapering heritage, is slated to deliver in April. Deitelzweig declined to disclose the building’s asking rental rate but said it will likely not be the cheapest option for tenants seeking office space in the District. Marx has retained a JLL leasing team including Doug Mueller, Evan Behr and Nathan Beach to market the space to prospective tenants.
Marx faces plenty of competition for those tenants, with D.C.’s office vacancy rate in record-setting territory, but Deitelzweig believes The Herald’s amenities and design by Studios Architecture principal David Burns will help set it apart from the competition.
“I think it is competitive, but for us, what we’re delivering is so unique there really isn’t a whole lot of competition for the space we’re delivering,” he said. “That’s what you have to do in this environment, is really be distinct.”
Daniel J. Sernovitz
Senior Staff Reporter
Washington Business Journal