EDITOR’S NOTE: Multimedia journalist Kristopher Gee spoke with Global Dining, Inc.'s executive chef about a new restaurant across the street from the U.S. Bank Tower. Click the arrow above to watch the video.
LOS ANGELES — Soon, when visitors enter the U.S. Bank Tower downtown, they won’t walk into a traditional office building.
Most office buildings just have a security desk and several elevators to whisk away their tenants’ workers to their work floor.
But Harlan Strader, vice president of leasing for Silverstein Properties, said theyr’e taking a hospitality-centric approach at the U.S. Bank Tower.
The newly revamped lobby will have a juice and coffee bar, as well as concierge services. Visitors will walk in and experience warm wood tones, trees and abundant greenery and foliage along the walls and upper balconies.
There will be plenty of community space, work cabanas and an extensive exterior trellis system to activate the surrounding outdoor areas on 5th Street, said Strader.
And on the 54th floor, “The Vista” will give tenants 20,000 square feet of offerings from a flexible co-working space, conference rooms, a lounge and gallery, cafe and commercial-grade kitchen.
Strader said they want their tenants to feel like they’re working inside a hotel.
“We want tenants to feel like they are walking into a boutique hotel versus an office building,” said Strader. “There is nothing currently in downtown LA that will look and feel like this. White-glove service meets boutique hospitality.”
Silverstein Properties, the new owner of the 72-story U.S. Bank Tower, one of the tallest skyscrapers downtown built in 1989, has poured $60 million into renovating the 1,000-foot building with amenities to lure back workers.
The New York-based real estate company, which developed One World Trade Center, purchased the building from OUE for $430 million a few months after the coronavirus pandemic hit.
While many workers fled downtown to work from home or remotely, Silverstein was banking on their return in the future.
The renovation comes as the pandemic wanes and many companies call for workers to return to the office.
LA’s commercial business district has seen a slight rebound since experiencing a huge dip in the number of workers working in downtown buildings in the past two years.
According to the Downtown Center Business Improvement District, at the end of 2019, downtown LA would average more than 348,000 daily workers. At its lowest point in the third quarter of 2021, only 203,000 workers were entering downtown office buildings. In the fourth quarter, there was a slight uptick of 209,000 average daily workers.
During the past couple of years, office building owners have invested significant amounts of money renovating their properties, waiting for the day workers to come back to the office.
“Like many other CBDs around the country, downtown LA has faced some headwinds as it relates [to] office re-occupancy, leasing absorption and vacancy rates,” said Strader. “Just like the stock market, the office market is cyclical. There are ups and downs, and right now, we are living through a down cycle.”
However, Strader is bullish for the long term despite many workers wishing to continue working remotely.
Workers will come back to the office, he said. But building owners must make their buildings safe, warm and welcoming.
“I know people will return to the office. We are already seeing it. Remote work is not binary. It can work for certain user types, but for others, it’s less ideal and not sustainable long-term,” he said. “Office real estate is always going to have a role for almost all companies in a flexible work model. Physical space is needed for building connectivity, onboarding, culture development, collaboration, innovation and idea sharing. The list goes on and on.”
Before Silverstein acquired the property, the building was more known for its observation deck on the 70th and 69th floors, as well as the skyslide, where tourists can take an exterior transparent glass slide down the side of the building.
Those attractions, which didn’t garner many tourists, are gone.
“The slide was OUE’s angle to support local tourism,” said Strader. “While we appreciate that, we feel it does not support our vision and mission for the building.”
Strader added that they’re focused on creating a workplace environment that focuses on community, hospitality and flexibility.
The 54th Floor Vista amenity is slated to be completed by late summer, and the lobby will follow in the first quarter of next year. A complete elevator modernization will be ongoing for the next two to three years, he said.
Aside from all the changes inside the building, Silverstein is also revamping areas outside of it. In April, Global Dining signed a 15-year lease for a 4,000-square-foot authentic Italian restaurant, Settecento in Maguire Gardens, adjacent to the U.S. Bank Tower. The restaurant is slated to open in spring 2023.
Additionally, Silverstein plans to activate the area in and around the building, including the Maguire Gardens and the adjacent steps.
Officials said the programming would range from culinary and cocktails to music, art and culture.
“Silverstein’s emphasis on innovation and creativity, community and wellness, and creating a full-service work environment embodies a comprehensive approach to placemaking that squarely meets the needs of today’s workforce and greatly improves not only the building, but the surrounding neighborhood as well,” said Nick Griffin, executive director of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District. “The Gardens, with its flexible workspaces and common areas, new food and beverage options, and hospitality-oriented lifestyle services, will be a terrific addition to this prime block of DTLA that bridges the Financial District and Bunker Hill.”