LOS ANGELES — From the moment an employee comes back to work at the old "L.A. Law" building in downtown Los Angeles, almost everything will be touch-free.

Once they arrive at the parking garage, an employee would need to wave or flash a key card at a dispenser to enter.

What You Need To Know

  • Coretrust Capital Partners spent $2 million upgrading the "L.A. Law" building as part of an effort to lure workers back to the office 

  • The upgrades include a new air and water filtration system and a germ-killing robot

  • The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown orders had a significant impact on the commercial office sector 

  • With states reopening and vaccinations up, building owners nationwide are upgrading their buildings to bring workers back

Inside the lobby, an elevator with only a few buttons will whisk them directly to their desired floor.

Employees and visitors will also experience the building's upgraded air filtration system inside the ducts that pump fresh air in all 48 floors and sterilize airborne bio-contaminants.

At night, and occasionally during the day, maintenance workers will roll out a six-foot 90-pound cylinder-shaped robot that looks like a huge lamp with tube lights on rollers to disinfect common areas and meeting rooms.

"We've done a lot of things to this building to address our tenants' and their employees' health and wellness," said Thomas Ricci, a founding and managing principal of Coretrust Capital Partners, the owner of the FourFortyFour Tower at 444 S. Flower St. in downtown's financial district. Coretrust has owned the building since 2016.

As California gets ready to reopen in June, office owners and landlords prepare their properties for when tenants and their employees come back to the office.

Coretrust is the latest office building owner that has upgraded and enhanced its buildings to make them safe and healthy for its tenants and visitors in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Granite Properties put down a $10 million investment to retrofit and enhance their office buildings across the nation, including ones in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Other building owners nationwide are doing the same.

The upgrades are seen as a way to lure workers back to the office.

The pandemic significantly impacted office building owners. Last year, state and local governments implemented mandatory stay-at-home orders that vacated buildings and forced nonessential employees to work from home or remotely.

The stay-at-home order left many buildings, especially in usually busy downtowns, eerily empty.

Building owners continued to collect rent from long-term tenants, but overall, new office leases have stalled as businesses rethink their office-space strategy.

The FourFortyBuilding, best known as the fictional headquarters of the 1980s legal television drama "L.A. Law," is 80% leased but only 15% occupied.

But with vaccinations up, the pandemic waning and the state reopening fully in June, commercial building owners are ready to welcome tenants — and their remote workers — back to their office. 

Coretrust spent about $2 million upgrading the Los Angeles office building. In total, the company invested more than $5 million in the past 15 months to boost their offices in downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena and Philadelphia, Ricci said.

Their buildings now feature new medical-grade indoor air quality, an air purifier inside the elevators, automatic doors, touchless garage entry, touchless restroom fixtures, better water quality and more outdoor spaces.

Coretrust also gives tenants an option to remove windows within their office space to create a new air terrace.

"What we've done is introduce an environment that's going to make employees more efficient, employers happier," said John Sischo, founding and managing principal at Coretrust.

The world has changed, Sischo said.

Employees are fearful of getting back to work, and they need to know that they will not get sick, he said.

"If there is technology available that I can do this for them and it's already happening, I'm going to do it," Sischo said.

One of their main tools for keeping their building safe and assure tenants is Ubtech Robotics' Adibots.

The Adibots, which stand about six feet tall and weigh 90 pounds, feature UVC technology. The stationary robots are rolled into a room and emit UVC radiation that disinfects and deactivates the DNA and RNA of pathogens, said John Rhee, Ubtech's general manager of North America. Disinfecting a 1,000-square-foot room takes about three minutes.

According to the FDA, UVC radiation has been shown to destroy the SARS-Coronavirus, the predecessor of COVID-19, and "may also be effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the virus that causes the COVID-19."

Coretrust has leased three Adibots, costing about $15 a day each, Rhee and Ricci said.

"Our plan is to deploy these at high-touch areas and restrooms at night," Ricci said. "We would offer it to our tenants as a service that we can come into their suite at night and do disinfection once a week or a once a month, whatever."

So far, Coretrust officials said since publicizing their new buildings' safety features, they've received an uptick of tours and leasing inquiries.

The goal, Ricci said, is to assure tenants and their employees that the building is safe.

"We always treat our customers first," he said. "They are our most important asset. It's not the buildings. It's the tenants that walk in here that give the buildings their value. Everything that we can do to give them that level of comfort that we've taken their concerns seriously and taken steps to alleviate those concerns, those are the steps that we've taken."