A local broker marveled Wednesday at the proliferation of new office buildings in downtown Tulsa.
“It’s been a very remarkable time to see three brand new buildings built downtown, record rents,” said Rick Guild, senior vice president at Newmark Robinson Park. “… If someone would have told me these events were going to happen, I would have thought that it would be national tenants that would do this because if a national tenant comes in from Charlotte or New York or L.A., $35 (per-square-foot) rents look cheap.
“But these are all tenants that were paying $15, $16, and they are all headquartered here. It’s pretty remarkable that a local tenant would see the value of paying twice as much rent to be in a nicer space.”
Guild was a speaker at the 25th annual Greater Tulsa Commercial Market Update at Venue 918, the events center at the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors.
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The new buildings he referenced are all structures that have come online in the past several years. They are the 100,000-square-foot Vast Bank facility, the roughly 260,000-square-foot building at 222 N. Detroit Ave., 21 N. Greenwood and the tower at Santa Fe Square.
Leading the tenant migration have been law firms.
Hall Estill now resides at Santa Fe. Pray Walker leases space at 21 N. Greenwood Ave., and Crowe & Dunlevy is based at 222 N. Detroit Ave.
“It’s really interesting that these law firms are getting these recruits from TU and OU and Texas and they are on month-to-month agreements, and they (the companies) are signing 15-year leases,” Guild said. “It’s that much commitment. Every major law firm has now relocated in downtown Tulsa.”
Among the reasons for the moves, Guild said, are opportunities for exterior signage and the chance to work in a more modern and collaborative work environment.
It is a trend that is playing out nationwide, he said.
“They are trying to entice their employees to come back to the office,” said Guild, referring to the COVID-induced remote-work movement. “It’s hard to get people to come back. They are going to want to hang out with their dogs and stay home. But these employers are realizing they need that camaraderie.
“So the question is, we just got through having this arms race for law firms; are we going to see that same thing for engineering firms? Are we going to see that same thing for accounting firms? I think we are.”