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Boardwalk Differences: Size, Style, Lots of Service

Walking onto The Boardwalk campus for the first time, visitors could be forgiven for thinking they’ve stepped into Orange County’s newest, hippest luxury hotel instead of the first large office project in the airport area of Irvine since the recession.

A valet service greets visitors at the entrance to the two-building, interconnected property. The ingress is next to an elaborate, two-acre courtyard with a multitude of meeting spots for large and small get-togethers.

As one enters the office buildings, the main lobby’s architecture, art, and decor give off a vibe he or she might expect at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel or Montage Laguna Beach.

The resort comparisons extend to Boardwalk’s staffing; an on-site Sterling Service hospitality team employs a number of people trained at the area’s top resorts. The 10-member team will grow to a couple dozen concierge-type positions.

It “goes well beyond traditional property management but is still included within the rent,” said Tom Bak, senior managing director at the Newport Beach office of project developer Trammell Crow Co.

The campus’ property management group is overseen by CBRE Group Inc., OC’s largest commercial property manager (see list, page 33). Trammell Crow is an independently run CBRE subsidiary.

Bak calls the service-first emphasis at the complex the Boardwalk Experience.

It includes tenant must-haves for the next generation of OC office properties, including larger floor plates; utility, space and other efficiencies that save money and energy; and open-space designs that allow workers to interact with each other, Bak said.

“But in the end, the big differentiator will be service.”

He said Trammell Crow “incorporated a full offering in both our indoor and outdoor space, but determined that the most meaningful element to round out the experience was in the service.”

Building Bridges

Trammell Crow hasn’t cut corners on Boardwalk’s nonservice aspects.

The 545,000-square-foot Jamboree Road campus on the one-time site of an older industrial property, sports one of the most striking looks among area offices, most notably a series of indoor and outdoor bridges connecting its nine-story buildings.

The bridges allow the 30,000-square-foot floors of each glass-clad building to expand to 65,000 square feet of connected space on a single floor, far larger than typical office floors in the area.

The extra space resulted in nearly 15% reductions in total square footage required by tenants compared to more traditional buildings in the airport area, according to Bak.

Add the savings to extra amenities, such as indoor and outdoor meeting rooms that can be reserved without charge, a fitness center, and soon-to-open restaurants, and Boardwalk rents—while higher than those of other class A buildings in the immediate area—are more than justifiable, Bak said.

The developer hasn’t disclosed asking rents. A recent market report by the Newport Beach office of tenant brokerage Savills Studley said some of the deals Trammell Crow has struck have been in the $3.90-per-square-foot range, about 30% higher than the average for class A buildings in the airport area.

First Movers

The project is now largely complete, with the first tenant having recently moved in and tenant improvements under way in a few spots.

Data from market tracker CoStar Group Inc. and area brokerage reports indicate the first tenants include:

• Accounting firm Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt LLP, which also operates as HCVT, with about 30,000 square feet. It’s moved local offices from Costa Mesa. HCVT ranked No. 10 on our latest accounting firms list with 142 local employees, up 9%.

• Financial firm Pathway Capital, which is moving from Irvine’s 2211 Michelson—the first office built in the airport area during the last market cycle—and leasing about 64,000 square feet.

• Online advertising company Propel Media Inc., which is moving its headquarters from the Irvine Concourse, will lease nearly 15,000 square feet.

Adding undisclosed leases and two letters of intent signed, leasing is up to about 220,000 square feet, according to the developer.

The roughly 60% of space still available for rent is one of the largest blocks of office space available for lease in the area, according to data in this week’s Commercial Leasing Guide (see office availability listing, page 24).

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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