Arpeg Group is about to launch what it considers a new concept office space to be known as And-Co. The offering combines private space with shared amenities typical of a private club including an in-house concierge, gym with trainers and a restaurant where members can run a tab and have lunch delivered to their desks via an app.
This is a concept that goes far beyond the idea of co-working spaces. There won’t be a hot desk in sight. The And-Co hospitality concept launches in September and will occupy the first four floors of 1575 W. Georgia St.
And-Co will include mostly private turnkey offices, as well as high-tech boardrooms, soundproof phone booths for quiet space, a 24-hour concierge seven days a week, a content studio where members can record a podcast, a shared kitchen, dining car, large patio and an internal staircase and large gathering area for events, such as the screening of a film.
There will be opportunities for networking and creative collaboration between members, with IT and audio and video production support on hand. There is also a major focus on wellness, with healthy food options, ergonomic furniture, windows that can be opened for fresh air, and physiotherapists and registered massage therapists on-site.
And-Co recently partnered with the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education, to provide free workshops to members on topics involving emotional intelligence, mind-heart connection and mental health. As a charitable partner, the Dalai Lama Center will also have its own on-site office space.
And-Co and Arpeg Group
Arpeg Group of Companies is a third-generation, family-run property management business with holdings in all asset classes and is the parent company for And-Co. With properties in B.C. and Washington state, Arpeg has more than 650 residential units in 14 buildings and 100 commercial units among four buildings.
Arpeg president Drew Ratcliffe sees the concept as the next step in the evolution of office space, which has gone beyond the open concept with fluorescent lighting and partitioned cubicles to tech workers playing foosball and lounging on beanbag chairs to this sustainable and wellness-focused environment where you aren’t chained to the office.
Ratcliffe was inspired by the lifestyle-focused office spaces called NeueHouse, in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, where members work and make connections in style.
“COVID has battle-tested us,” said Ratcliffe. “Our space has had to approach launching in a pandemic and I think we’ve completely pivoted and it’s a great pivot to behold.”
Unlike the traditional office lease of five or 10 years, membership terms will run for 12 months, giving businesses flexibility in usage and budget.
Small, mid-sized companies targeted
The target market for the 37,000-square-foot space is the small to mid-size company looking to recruit and retain workers who want to divide time between the office and home, and not be stuck leasing square footage they aren’t using to full capacity.
Ratcliffe said they are not seeing businesses that want to lock down space for a decade anymore.
If the hospitality concept works out the way it should, he believes members won’t hesitate at renewing their one-year leases.
“For us, real estate and space as a service is not going anywhere. It’s here to stay. And our company has been around long enough both on the landlord side and on the owner-management side, as well as the actual users, to say those big leases from yesteryear are really a dying breed.”
And-Co is at the edge of the downtown core, steps to scenic Stanley Park and the seawall, and also serves as Arpeg’s own office space. The company has owned the site since 1996 and spent over five years renovating the space with international firm BVN Architecture at the design helm.
During the renovation, Arpeg staff relocated to a small mixed-use building it owns on East Hastings.
They moved back to Georgia Street last October and after construction delays, are on schedule to finally launch And-Co in September. The company says there is a growing waiting list.
Personal experience shapes And-Co
Ratcliffe, who oversees a staff of 10 to 15, said he was inspired by personal experience when he saw the new generation of worker wasn’t content with the traditional open-concept office space. That might have worked in the past, but the new generation has different needs.
“I came into the business as the young one in the office and it dawned on me as we were looking to grow our business, we were here in Coal Harbour on the site in the old building and we had our four walls around us and lots of space. And, it worked really well for that older generation.
“But, the more I looked at where we’re going strategically for our business, it was, ‘Wait a second, for this next generation and the types of team members we need to grow, I can sell them on our business and stability and history, but if I have to sell them on that space as an office, I would never have succeeded.’ ”
The inspiration, NeueHouse, embraces the lifestyle concept with gallery shows and cultural programming. The concept, he said, is the way of the future for office workers, particularly where employee retention and recruitment is becoming key.
In the post-pandemic world, those workers will want options, such as not having to work five days a week at the office. As well, business owners don’t want to go to the bother of subleasing space they’re not using.
“It’s not necessarily new, but the silver lining of COVID is there has got to be some bringing together of first-class IT and design that makes real estate and your dynamic work space target that (human resources) piece. COVID is the accelerator.
“It did accelerate this conversation that real estate now, more than ever, is an HR-deliverable.
“Times are uncertain in a small to medium space. I have nothing but eternal optimism that my business is going to grow, but a 10-year lease is an albatross, really. And that’s a big spend.
“Flexibility means more than just term and duration.”