A redevelopment firm plans to invest $14 million in sprucing up two Chandler office buildings and adding amenities appealing to a younger workforce.
Yoga studios, juice bars and game rooms are some of the features George Oliver, based in Phoenix, intends to add to two buildings it recently acquired near Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard.
Curt Kremer, George Oliver’s founder, said the renovations aim to make the buildings more attractive to the millennial generation, people born between 1981 and 1996.
According to census data, millennials recently replaced Generation X as the largest group in the American workforce. This shift in the labor pool prompted some to rethink how workplace environments can be hipper and more stylish.
The kids who grew up watching Michael Scott humiliate his employees on “The Office” are thought to want something more than cubicles and conference rooms; they want a place that feels more like home.
“That millennial that everybody’s trying to hire just has a different work style than the baby boomers,” Kremer said. “It’s a lot more experiential.”
George Oliver bought a 112,000-square-foot building in the downtown region, the longtime home to First Credit Union.
The five-story facility will be re-branded as The Alexander and offers new amenities like exercise rooms, lounge areas, a training center and a billiards room.
Kremer said the renovations will help the building’s tenants hire and retain new talent looking for trendy features reminiscent of what’s seen in Silicon Valley.
“Everybody’s kind of chasing the Google, Apple, Facebook-type campuses where they have heavy amenities,” he said. “It’s just tough to do that for smaller users.”
These big-tech companies have headquarters resembling little villages; equipped with cafes, theatres and gyms. Kremer said his firm essentially tries to resemble this model, but on a smaller scale.
In addition, George Oliver helps to host events for its tenants that give a sense of community to workers.
They provide on-site concierges to organize food truck festivals, guacamole contests, and farmer markets.
“We do that because we know employees want to go and find places to work where there’s employers that work in those areas,” Kremer added. “When people are happy at work, they tend not to leave.”
First Credit Union has already signed a 10-year lease agreement with George Oliver to remain in what will eventually become The Alexander. Other potential tenants are still being negotiated.
JLL Executive Vice President Brian Ackerman, who represented First Credit Union during the deal, said his client was interested in working with George Oliver due to the firm’s track record and reputation.
“Their renovations will be a game-changer for how tenants use and enjoy these buildings,” Ackerman said in a statement, “and will keep First Credit Union and its significant jobs in downtown Chandler.”
George Oliver has also bought a 107,500-square-foot building it will redevelop as The Johnathan and include many similar features as The Alexander. The two buildings are being renamed after Dr. Alexander Jonathan Chandler, the city’s founder.
The total cost for the two buildings came out to $38.8 million.
Chandler’s downtown area has so many restaurants and entertainment venues within walking distance to the two buildings, Kremer added, which made this region appealing to the firm.
George Oliver has taken on redevelopment projects for buildings in Scottsdale and Phoenix – turning them into modernized offices with open layouts and plenty of lounging spaces.
The firm doesn’t have a specific design aesthetic, Kremer said, because each project is influenced by the existing real estate. George Oliver doesn’t aim to force an entirely different style of architecture on a location, he added,
George Oliver will first work on renovating The Alexander building, which it hopes to start by early 2020.