Embarcadero Center kicks off office renovations
Embarcadero Center is getting a facelift.
In the coming weeks, the center’s owner Boston Properties (NYSE: BXP) will start renovations to build new lobbies on the second floors of 1, 2, and 3 Embarcadero, while the lobby in 4 Embarcadero Center will be redesigned.
The new lobbies — about 2,000 square feet each — will make it easier for tenants and visitors to find where they’re going and encourage meetups, said Doug Zucker, principal in charge of the project for architecture firm Gensler.
They will also provide a layer of security to office buildings that, in their current form, can be accessed by anyone from the elevator bank.
“We’re looking at how to create an entry experience for these office buildings that are buried on the second floor of a retail center,” Doug Zucker said.
Although the Embarcadero towers have cut across the Financial District skyline since their construction began in the 1970s, accessing offices from the retail portion of the center can be confusing. To change that, the escalator and stairs between the second and third floor will be removed, leading people directly up to the new lobby spaces from the ground floor.
The new lobbies will also have a 20-foot-high “curtain” of lighted concrete ribbons along the outside wall to catch visitors’ eyes, Doug Zucker said, plus areas to sit and talk. The existing lobby in 4 Embarcadero will be gutted to match the others. Hathaway Dinwiddie is the contractor.
Gensler declined to provide cost estimates for the total project, but a permit application for the lobby renovation at 4 Embarcadero is valued at about $2.5 million, according to data from contracting information company BuildZoom. Boston Properties didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.
As the San Francisco office market becomes flush with tech companies, owners have to renovate older office buildings to attract those tenants, said Tony Zucker, executive vice president of Dunhill Partners West, who advises office tenants. (He is no relation to Doug Zucker).
“They’re competing not only with older buildings with renovations have made things much more tenant-friendly, but also the new buildings that focus on tech tenants,” Tony Zucker said.
Around the corner, 275 Battery St. underwent lobby renovations that finished last year to create a cafe and communal sitting places after being acquired by the Rockpoint Group. (The Business Times is a tenant in 275 Battery). Hines and Sterling American Property also spent $30 million to redevelop the 25-story office building at 100 Montgomery, which included a new lobby at the corner of Montgomery and Sutter.
Average asking office rents across San Francisco climbed 2.7 percent last quarter, to a record high of $75.54, while vacancy rates fell to 5.2 percent, according to data from commercial brokerage CBRE. The average asking rent for Class A office buildings in the Financial District was slightly above average at $79.39.
Tenants of Embarcadero Center include consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Boston Consulting Group and WeWork. Boston Properties is San Francisco’s largest office landlord, with about 6 million square feet across the Bay Area as of last June. It also owns about 95 percent of Salesforce Tower.
The renovations are expected to take about two years in overlapping cycles of nine months per building. In addition, the company has applied for multiple tenant renovation permits recently, including an interior remodel of two floors occupied by WeWork in 2 Embarcadero Center that will cost about $1.3 million, per permit records.