Four hundred Castille at Carillon is a one hundred thousand square foot office building that caters to high end tenants in a neighborhood known as the Carillon neighborhood of St. Petersburg. Nearby, we have tenants like the world headquarters of Raymond James, the Home Shopping Network, and Franklin Templeton. So, there are a lot of blue-chip tenants in and around the area, some of whom are looking for upscale digs – and that is what this building caters to; a sort of a high-end front office tenant. For example, a typical tenant in this building is US Trust Company, which is the high net worth arm of Bank of America.
Similar to those diet ads where they show the big fat guy on the left side and the svelte really in-shape guy on the right with a six pack, you can see in these images above the lobby before and the lobby after renovation.
In both the before and after shots, the most prominent thing that you will see is the difference in light. That is our signature element for all of our renovations. We discovered many years ago when LED lighting came out that there were different spectrums of light that simulated natural sunlight. By bringing in high Kelvin lighting (a measure of the light spectrum) in the 4,000 to 5,000 range it looks much like sunlight – with five thousand Kelvin actually right at sunlight.
We are installing lighting that is close to the 4,000 – 5,000 range, whereas before the lighting was in the 2,000 range, which is that yellowish type lighting that maybe is OK in a cigar lounge at twelve o’clock at night when you have had a few drinks, but just doesn’t cut it in a lobby in an office building.
The other thing that is really visible here, in the images below, you’ll see the entry area is reminiscent of a PetSmart storefront circa 1990.
You’ll see it here on the Before picture, this black metal framing that just looks very outdated, and the After image, on the right is as close to all glass as we can get, with big, tall sheets of glass, removing as much metal as we can and going with very thin, highly reflective strips of metal as the bare minimum and creates a lot more transparency.
Plus you can also see the light that I was talking about. This intense LED lighting you can see spilling out onto the sidewalk out in front of the building. It is much more inviting and feels much safer to come into at night and different times of the day.
We have heard our tenants say that with the lighting that we do in our buildings, that they feel like it is more upbeat; that they actually psychologically get a lift. We also think that it is a much more modern look. If you look on the left and look on the right for a moment, you’ll see just how different it is in terms of before and after; just how many years apart in time the two are. It’s almost like when we do renovations, we’re moving through time – somewhere like 40 years apart.
You might guess that the lobby on the right somewhere in the year, maybe, 2022-2025, whereas the one on the left is a classic 1985.
In the two pictures above, you can see the elevator lobbies. These are the smaller lobbies that you enter as you come in from the garage areas. Typically garage entryways–you see this truck over here on the left–they are really neglected areas. They often feel like you might get mugged if it is late at night. It is not brightly lit, you will see cigarette stains on the floor.
It is just typically a neglected area and yet 90 to 95 percent of our tenants come in and out of the elevator lobby because this is where they park their car. Every day they come in and this is the look that they saw on the left, with the look that they see now, on the right. It is a completely upgraded area where we have cove lighting and a beautiful marble bench where you can sit while you are waiting for an elevator or waiting for a visitor.
As you look at the elevators themselves, you again see an incredibly dark elevator on the before photograph above, and you can see that it was really so dark and scary in there. I remember the first time I went in there; my phone lit up bright like it was nighttime inside the elevator.
So, we performed sort of an elevator-exorcism with the lighting intensity. Now the elevator lighting is maybe five times as bright as it was. You can see that the amount of elevator lighting, particularly the cove lighting we put in, which is indirect which, though bright, does not cause you to squint, feels much brighter. You can also see on the flooring we went with a much lighter color flooring, which then reflects the light better.
We referred to lobby-ectomies in our renovations. Above are before and after in our tenant corridors where you will see that it is mainly the lighting that has been changed. Some of the flooring has also been changed out to make this space more appealing.
And then, below, this is what we do inside the tenant spaces to make them more leasable. Again, the focus is on lighting. We open up and remove walls so people can imagine how this would lay out. A lot of old office spaces all chopped up into little bitty compartments and it kind of gives you a sense of claustrophobia when you walk in.
The first thing we do is come in with a wrecking ball. We lay down new carpet, we put in these flat panel LED lights that you can see in the images above. These are like flat panel TV that are flat metal LED panels that emit near sunlight condition of lighting – and you can see the real sunlight is actually washing in to the space and you can see how similar the effect of this LED lighting is to that.
As we move to the images above, you can see the light fixtures we put in the seating areas of the lobbies. We made it much more hospitable space, polished the wood, and also hit it hard with this new LED lighting.
That is the key item, as I mentioned before–lighting is a branding item for us. We do this, as you can see in the rest room picture above, that the lighting is upgraded so you get a tremendous amount of indirect lighting that makes the spaces feel brighter, more hospitable, and cleaner.
We also have been upgrading all of our heating, ventilating, and air conditioning–HVAC–systems, (see lower images above). These are brand new chillers that we put in that are replacing 1990 vintage machines where we have obtained about a 30 percent energy savings.
What we’re also doing right now that is new is that we are installing systems that kill COVID and installing them right into our HVAC systems, into the duct work. We are putting in systems that use UV lighting and other technologies similar to what happens after a thunderstorm. We use electrostatic ionization where ions effectively charge the air electrically, similar to what happens in a thunderstorm, and this entire building will have this system so that our tenants can have some comfort in knowing that it’s a relatively COVID-free building.
This system is 99.9 Percent effective on COVID, but it has legs well beyond Covid because, interestingly, it handles smells, kills tiny insects, and handles allergens.
It is amazing how many referrals we get following our renovations and, although I cannot scientifically prove it to you that our renovations are what people want, but what I can tell you is that, overall, our buildings are wildly outperforming the Tampa office market vacancy.
I guess that’s the best evidence of them all.