Story

Unlocking Trapped Value from Aging Assets

Focus Area Repositioning

Dramatic new two-story entrance at a street corner

We awaken sleeping giants – not the fairy tale creatures but aging buildings with trapped value

Aging office buildings constructed before the millennium face stiff competition from newer models that feature trendier amenities, smart technology, modern designs and energy efficiency. These days, in order to remain competitive, older buildings need much more than a facelift or a lighting retrofit. Page specializes in identifying ways to unlock trapped value in these aging assets and make them more competitive against new construction.

As each asset, its surroundings and market are unique, so are the solutions that Page develops for their owners, landlords and brokers. While new office tower construction is exciting, the bigger and more enduring story lies in understanding how the buildings in the background must reposition themselves to remain relevant. The bottom line is that aging assets become candidates for repositioning when there is evidence that investment will result in higher occupancy, increased rental rates, and a positive return on the investment.

Services

  • Architecture
  • Interiors
  • Corporate / Commercial
  • Engineering
  • Strategies / Analytics

Cradle to completion

Our extensive value chain of services allows us to offer more than design. Our strategic consulting team conducts economic analyses of market conditions; our building sciences and engineering teams assess energy efficiency and identify solutions to lower operating expenses; our branding and graphics group creates new brands and supporting visual identities and the depth of our Interiors studio lets us provide finishing details down to furnishings and artwork, and more.

Warehouse to workspace

Due to a major freeway expansion, a manufacturing company based in Houston needed to relocate its company headquarters and manufacturing facility. While the manufacturing arm moved closer to the port, the company saw the opportunity to relocate its business operations to an existing metal warehouse. Page transformed the New Process Steel warehouse into a work environment that supports growth and global operations while honoring their history.

Close-up of building entry
© Slyworks Photography
Distance shot of building and parking lot
© Slyworks Photography
© Slyworks Photography
Courtyard with grass, gravel and sculptural steel edging
© Slyworks Photography

The award-winning design preserves the warehouse’s simple framework while a new skin of translucent and metal panels evokes the company’s industrial heritage. An elevated interior floor conceals mechanical systems to avoid expensive saw cutting of the slab. Demountable partitions facilitate quick and inexpensive interior spatial transformations. A courtyard in the middle of the office provides natural light and a private green space for employees.

Lobby of building with a reception desk and seating space
© Slyworks Photography

Adding up the numbers

Specific repositioning strategies vary by building and market, but the opportunity is enormous. While Chicago and New York City represented almost 40% of the national trophy building stock in 2015, 70% or more of the trophy buildings across 10 of the then top 14 markets had been built before 1990. Put another way, 66% of buildings representing 73% of rentable area across major US markets fit in this category. The opportunities to unlock value through strategic repositioning are both local and national.

Scrabble letters spell out the word
© Page

If older assets were repositioned just to their respective market mean lease rates then, an additional $330 million dollars in annual rent could have been garnered. Revenue concerns often trigger repositioning; to justify the investment, asset owners must be able to see how material increases in rental rates can be achieved and the building can be leased more quickly. Alternately, doing nothing risks both a reduction in rental rates over time, and increased difficulty in leasing vacant space.

New name, same place

When a major energy company relocated its employees to a suburban campus, the building owner wanted to attract a new anchor tenant of a similar caliber. Project team research revealed the opportunity to transform the property’s presence on the street and perception by the market. The project encompassed a new entrance and street address, lobby and identity that reintroduced the building to the market and recaptured its former Class A stature.

Reception desk
© Slyworks Photography
Exterior facade of dark granite
© Slyworks Photography

The strategy started by relocating the main entrance from a minor crosstown street and giving the building a more prestigious address, 811 Louisiana. As the hotline number for Dig Safe, the service that protects underground utilities, 811 honors the building’s connection to oil and gas industry. Page redefined the building’s identity on the street by recladding the base in dark granite to ground the building.

Glassed-in great room on ground floor that connects building to street
© Slyworks Photography

A renovated ground floor lobby turned separately defined spaces into a single great room with newly elevated ceilings. Walls of frameless glass bathe it in natural light and provide a connection with the activity on the exterior sidewalks. In this car-centric, yet ever-evolving city, the renovated building shows a proud face to those arriving in downtown by car and provides an elegant experience for tenants and visitors no matter how they arrive.

Reimagine, repurpose, renew

Page is an early signatory of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2030 Commitment which challenges architecture firms to design 100% carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. One way we deliver on that promise is by championing renovation and adaptive reuse. We design projects that successfully repurpose existing spaces by unlocking their unique potential, make careful use of scarce resources and implement thoughtful changes that conserve both emissions and energy expenditure.

An icon reborn

The only Italianate building on the Houston skyline, the 31-story Niels Esperson Building was the city’s tallest at the time of its completion in 1927. By the millennium, even its historic charm didn’t appeal as much to tenants as much newer buildings. Page was tapped to enhance the ground level spaces and improve access connections from both the street level and downtown tunnel system, thus increasing traffic and awareness of the building.

Curved white plaster walls and a white floor with historic mosaic tile inlay.
© Mabry Campbell
Escalator ride past a glass artwall featuring a geometric fretwork design
© Mabry Campbell

The transformation centers around a new, two-story backlit glass art wall rising from the tunnel to the top of the ground floor at the escalator and creating a downtown landmark. The modern fretwork in the wall reinterprets the building’s history and anchors smooth curved plaster walls which let original mosaic floor tiles shine. The food court on the tunnel level was renovated to become a destination of its own.

Renovated food court with warm wood accents and white tile floor
© Mabry Campbell

Approaches to release trapped value

Through experience across numerous repositioning projects, we have identified ten key approaches to identifying and unlocking trapped asset value:

© Page
  1. Ask local experts
  2. Quantify anecdotal trends
  3. Investigate market dynamics
  4. Understand location and context
  5. Deconstruct asset performance
  6. Engage immediate partners
  7. Establish the foreground
  8. Optimize brand identity
  9. Choreograph tenant experience
  10. Tailor design solutions

Testimonial

Uncovering potential annual revenue in the hundreds of millions

Portrait of a Caucasian female leader in a black top

“By extending analysis of a project's potential beyond obvious physical design challenges to the larger urban or conceptual context, we find unexpected sources of value upon which transformational solutions can be based. ”

Jamie Flatt Associate AIA, LEED AP, PQP

Page Principal

New Process Steel
Awards

  • Society of American Registered Architects Honor Award
  • AIA Houston Design Award

Esperson Building
Awards

  • Building Owners & Managers Association Regional TOBY Building Of The Year Award, Historical Division

811 Louisiana
Awards

  • Houston Business Journal Landmark Award, Rehabilitation / Renovation Category

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