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Landlords Use Technology to Compete for Millennial Tenants

A couple of weeks ago we reported on Tishman launching an app called the Zo to provide a comprehensive suite of amenities and services for its tenants. As we all know, in New York and elsewhere, landlords are working to retain tenants and lure new ones with technology.

Yesterday, during NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate’s annual REIT Symposium, Ric Clark, Brookfield’s real estate head, confirmed the trend saying: “There is a bit of a nuclear arms race going on in New York right now (to add new technology to appeal to millennial tenants).”

“In the past, property owners invested heavily in technology tenants don’t see — for example concerning energy efficiency,” Clark added. “But now, in a bid to appeal to millennials, technology and innovation has shifted more to front-facing, consumer-facing products.”

Last year, Brookfield invested in Convene, a tech-centric startup that runs common spaces in office buildings like meeting rooms. Meanwhile, several landlords are undergoing costly renovations at aging office towers in an effort to compete with new high-tech developments like Hudson Yards.

Brian Schwagerl, who attended the event and is also an adjunct professor at NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate, told Propmodo “Landlords are toast if they don’t put wi-fi everywhere. Tech is king and millennials are expecting the technology they use in their everyday lives to also be integrated into their home and workplace.” Brian will be moderating a panel about real estate technology Friday at a Propmodo LIVE special event: Managing Next Generation Connected Building Systems.

Many landlords are looking for a shortcut to win over millennial office users by leasing buildings to WeWork. As Empire State Realty Trust’s Anthony Malkin told the NYU Schack Institute crowd, there is a downside to letting WeWork bring in their business model in order to stay relevant with younger workers: “WeWork tends to beat the shit out of buildings […] it is very hard to have a secure facility with name tags and security when they have members coming in and out.”

To make a building attractive to the younger generation of workers, landlords will have to better understand their needs. Technology is a big part of it, but really it may also come down to connecting with them on an emotional level, something that WeWork has figured out.

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