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“Creative office” has become the—somewhat clichéd—mantra of the office sector. While some are eschewing the term “creative” as banal and overused, it is undeniable that open, design-forward spaces with amenities, common areas and food and beverage options have been hailed the future of office. In Orange County, however, the trend hasn’t taken off. Of course, creative office has a presence in the market, but just north in Los Angeles, creative office is driving market activity. In Orange County, on the other hand, tenants seem to favor functionality and location over design trends and prestige.

“Los Angeles tends to be more cool, hip and trendy,” Jeff Ingham, senior managing director at JLL, tells GlobeSt.com. “In Orange County, tenants don’t care as much about the address or the space. You might have some tenants that want a certain view or they want to be in Fashion Island, and they don’t care what the rent cost is. The bigger driver here, however, is where is the office is compared to where the employees live and what is the cost is, especially if it is a small business. Tenants are more concerned with functionality, location and access as opposed to being in the coolest building in the coolest market.”

Although creative office isn’t as prevalent in the Orange County market, newer well-maintained, modern spaces do win tenants. For landlords looking for opportunities to drive leasing, building upgrades and value-add strategies are the best bet. With a large stock of older properties, there are value-add opportunities for office investors. “Landlords should focus on what they do, and do it well. The reality is that rents aren’t going to spike, so there is no reason for landlords to hold space on the market,” adds Ingham. “There is no guarantee the market is going to drop, but it is not likely to increase. Landlords need to act and react quickly because the market is changing faster than it has in the past with all of the new investment. The entire market is changing.”

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.

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