Notable office owner the Irvine Co. has seen a resurgence in office leasing activity in over the last six months during the pandemic. The firm closed 2 million square feet in lease transactions with more than 200 companies in its Orange County portfolio. These transactions included lease renewals, new leases and lease expansions.
“Companies and their employees recognize the value of the office for innovation, collaboration, culture, and more. Gensler recently published a study that stated only 12 percent of employees want to work from home in the future. Of course, during a pandemic, wellness and flexibility became major focal points. We offer optimal ventilation and air filtration systems, touch-free environments, disinfection protocols beyond CDC guidelines, and other industry-leading safety protocols to help customers come back to the office with confidence,” Thomas Greubel, VP of leasing at the Irvine Co. office properties, tells GlobeSt.com. “We also offer more than 1,000 spacious outdoor open-air meeting and gathering areas, which are desirable and increasingly important meeting hubs, particularly when physical distancing is required.”
While the 2 million square feet in activity was exclusive to the firm’s Orange County portfolio, Greubel says that the firm saw similar traction at its San Diego properties as well. “Fortunately, we have also experienced significant leasing activity in San Diego for the same reasons. Companies remain bullish about Orange County and San Diego because of the access to talent, desirability of places to live and work, and because of our vibrant workplace communities that focus on wellness,” he said.
The company also helped to drive leasing activity by pivoting with the new market conditions, like a need for shorter-term leases and flexible space. “We launched Flex Workspace+, which offers leases with terms as short as six months in October of 2019 before the pandemic began,” says Greubel. “We have seen interest from companies wanting flexibility, whether it’s a shorter lease or additional space because their business is growing and they want to be able to accommodate physical distancing. Many of our customers are making decisions today for their futures beyond the pandemic.”
In addition, it also responded quickly to the health and safety concerns of tenants to help support more comfort with returning to the office. “We’ve replaced more than 50,000 air filters, installed 13,000 signs to promote proper physical distancing, added more than 2,000 touchless restroom fixtures, cleaned more than 6,000 coils, and purchased more than 500 gallons of sanitizer for more than 1,000 sanitizing stations,” say s Greubel. “Also, in consultation with UC Irvine Health to validate our protocols, they said that with the right practices and protocols, companies can return to the office safely.”