Sweet Smell of Success? Regent Properties Wants You to Enjoy Coming to Work

The company's $420-million purchase of four downtown San Diego office buildings hinges on creating positive work-life balance

There’s something in the air—literally—at the four downtown San Diego commercial office buildings purchased last summer by Regent Properties.

That smell wafting out of air-conditioning units is actually a branded aroma.

Step into the lobby of 1 Columbia Place in Little Italy. Get a whiff of natural leathers, clean patchouli, smoky cedar and notes of citrus.

Regent hired international marketing company 12.29 to create its own, unique olfactory identity. Called Sicilian Bergamot, the branded scent is derived from Poltrana Frau, an Italian furniture company that provided high-quality material for companies like Ferrari.

Is it the sweet smell of success?

Regent hopes so. The Los Angeles-based real estate and development firm spent $420 million on the joint purchase of 1 Columbia Place and 2 Columbia Place in Little Italy, and 701 B Street and 707 Broadway in East Village.

Also included in the deal: the Sixth & A Parking Garage.

It’s a combined total of 1.5 million square feet of commercial space. That amounts to 16 percent of all Class A/B office inventory in downtown San Diego. The acquisition makes Regent the second-largest landlord in the city.

Breathe that in.

Hospitality-Grade Amenities

An aerial view of 1 Columbia Place in Little Italy. (Courtesy photo)

Another part of Regent’s strategy to optimize this urban investment is to add hospitality-grade amenities to the office buildings.

That means 1 Columbia Place is getting an indoor/outdoor lounge and collaboration area. A game area is slated to include a golf simulator and pool tables. A gym, café-and wine-bar concept and a major art installation are also on the drawing board.

701 B is on tap to get similar upgrades—including a spot for private wine lockers.

Along with an upgraded gym, look for a new doggie daycare coming to 707 Broadway.

“Our goal is to create active, highly ‘amenitized’ office environments that are not only safe and productive, but also provide an enjoyable experience,” Regent Properties CEO Eric Fleiss says. “Such that tenants and employees enjoy coming to work.”

Regent will also roll out a concierge-like app aiming to enhance the workplace experience. The app will allow tenants to book onsite conference rooms, sign up for gym classes and reserve a spot at that new doggie daycare.

Other planned app functions include the ability to order food and to access perks and discounts from national and neighborhood retail vendors.

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The Myth of Urban Flight?

701 B Street in East Village. (Courtesy photo)

Is the effort worth it?

When COVID became an omnipresent part of our world, economists predicted the demise of cities. The media was filled with stories about urban dwellers fleeing for the suburbs.

However, noted economist and Berkely professor Enrico Moretti recently told Insider he believes the predicted death of cities has been highly exaggerated.

Moretti says workers who do move out of cities are staying within commuting distance. And he says the hybrid model—some days working in the office, some at home—will become more of the rule than the exception.

Real estate investors are predicting that secondary office markets—like San Diego—will recover more quickly from the hits dealt to businesses by the pandemic.

Along with San Diego, Regent is planning to invest $2 billion in office properties in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Phoenix and Denver, according to Fleiss.

Regent executive vice president and head of acquisitions Sam Kraus notes that the company is generally in the business of growing income streams and stabilizing rent rolls.

He says Regent generally holds onto assets for four to seven years, depending on the profile of each property.

“In this case, the execution strategy hinges on repositioning vacant space to be more lease-ready, enhancing the buildings’ amenity sets, and focusing on operational excellence and tenant engagement,” Kraus says.

With many of the amenities for its downtown San Diego office building still in the planning phase, it remains to be seen if Regent comes out smelling like a rose.

Or, more precisely on brand, a Sicilian Bergamot. SDSun

COVER PHOTO: The lobby at 1 Columbia Place. (courtesy photo)



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