Creative Office Space

by CoyDavidson on July 25, 2012

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The Cachet of Creative Office Space

Having been involved in numerous lease transactions for creative office space from both the Tenant and Landlord side of the equation, I have experienced the perceived cachet for niche office space that appeals to the company looking for a less traditional and more coworking type office environment.

New office interior

The “Live, Work, Play” approach to office space is becoming increasingly popular among certain sectors of the marketplace particularly for technology companies, design firms, media organizations and other creative types.

Ingredients for a Great Creative Office Space

In many cases developers or building owners have been successful in converting older class B and C office buildings or even industrial property into locations that are magnets for tenants seeking creative office space, and in many cases extracting top of the market rental rates. While an open office plan can be built-out in most any office building, just knocking down the walls, leaving the ceiling exposed and utilizing polished concrete floors or wood treatments instead of carpet doesn’t mean the creative tenants will come.

First and foremost you need an urban location popular with young professionals who live nearby. I have seen building owners try to transform suburban office properties into creative office space and this concept just doesn’t work in the burbs. Buildings, often older properties with a historic or warehouse feel in urban locations work best. Proximity to popular entertainment districts is also a key. The eye for a creative office project in Houston is more of an art that requires vision and an understanding of our demographics in absence of a significant cluster that has yet to evolve.

We don’t have a significant inventory of creative office space in Houston but creative office conversions are increasingly popping up particularly East of Downtown (EADO), Midtown, the Washington Avenue Corridor and Montrose. In my city, one of the most successful creative office space stories is 3815 Montrose, a project that I was involved with in leading the successful leasing effort after redevelopment.


My focus is primarily tenant representation and I am always enthusiastic about working with technology and creative tenants but if you offer me a creative office space leasing assignment, I am “all-in.” I suspect  we will see more of these projects in Houston in the future as the “new economy” evolves, even though we are an Oil & Gas town. Our energy giants need software, office space designed as well as PR and marketing campaigns.

San Francisco, the epicenter of Creative Office Space for Start-Ups

Nowhere is the cachet of creative office space more evident than San Francisco. Big and small tech, social network and media companies are setting up shop in San Francicso to tap into the talent pool of young designers and software engineers who prefer the urban landscape. Twitter, Zynga and AirBNB are headquartered in San Francisco’s SOMA District and recently Pinterest and Quora have announced relocations from Palo Alto to tap into the young talent rich labor force.

My Colliers International colleagues in the Bay Area put together this report below on the San Francisco Creative Office Space Market.

San Francisco Creative Office Space Report – Q2-12

If you need help finding creative office space or are contemplating an redevelopment project, please contact me if you would like to discuss your objectives.

  • Tyler Hogan

    Thanks for the mention Coy!  Interesting to see companies are demanding “creative” office space in Houston, much as they are in San Francisco.  

  • Tyler, I suspect our demand pales in comparison to S.F. but we increasingly have tenants looking for this type of space.

  • Darren Shaw

    What is the definition of “creative space”?

  • Darren, I don’t think an “official”  definition of “creative space” exists as it hasn’t made wikepedia yet. So it’s an evolving term that describes more non-traditional office space characterized typically by open office environments focused on collaboration and team work and meeting space. Finishes typically include exposed ceilings and often polished concrete or wood flooring that is popular with technology, design firms and media companies. Think Google. As with any term like this, its’ subjective and certainly open to interpretation.

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