Because they believe that the majority of all new job creation is happening in city centers, only 1% of Brookfield’s portfolio is suburban. Instead, they focus on building urban developments with a sense of place. To Clark, “Place” is a community center with activities and amenities that draw in not only tenants, but also their employees and the surrounding community. Clark and his company believe that if the employees want to work in their building, the employers will want to lease their space.
Brookfield Place in downtown Manhattan embodies “Place”. As background, when Merrill Lynch was acquired by Bank of America, Merrill Lynch’s lease of 4M square feet was nearing its 2013 expiration. Brookfield knew that they were going to need to re-tenant 4M square feet as quickly and strategically as possible.
Rather than cutting rental rates and becoming commodity space, Brookfield invested $500M in the project to “animate the public spaces”. They created a grand amphitheater-style lobby where they hold concerts, ballet performances and other cultural events. They added upscale shopping and a high-end food court called Hudson Eats, as well as a French-themed restaurant/market called Le District, modeled after the very successful Eataly concept.
In Brookfield’s Toronto development, Bay Adelaide, “place” is embodied in a half acre urban plaza between the complex’s two high-rise office towers. This plaza is home to extensive arts and events programming, again designed to draw in employees.
Accounting firm Deloitte bought into the concept and leased 500K square feet in one of the buildings. Its space is entirely “free address” (no assigned seats) and was built with various work environments from quiet rooms to open living room style seating.
Clark is a fan of open work environments for Brookfield’s own space as well. In fact, he says that in an industry like real estate where speed of execution is everything, his company’s open plan offices facilitate communication which enables them to execute swiftly on opportunities.