THE WELL AND FITWEL TREND IN THE COLUMBUS MARKET
Updated: May 8, 2020
Written by: John Underman, SIOR and Hannah Williams, CPMC
John Underman has specialized in office leasing, tenant and buyer representation, and investment sales throughout Central Ohio and the United States for the past 15 years. He provides tremendous value to his clients by combining a methodical approach with thorough knowledge, relentless effort, and strong communication skills. Hannah Williams specializes in research capabilities, providing support for the Colliers Columbus Office, Industrial, Retail, and Multifamily Groups. She is responsible for executing data reports, maintaining a commercial property database, reporting quarterly trends, performing data analysis and utilizing statistical information to predict future behavior in the market. Keep reading to get John and Hannah’s take on the WELL and Fitwel trend in Columbus.
What are the WELL and Fitwel certifications? As sustainability becomes an increasingly important societal value, building “green” has become a booming industry. Designations like LEED and ENERGY STAR are now well-known terms, as 40 percent of office buildings in the 30 largest US cities have one or both certifications. More recently, human health is being prioritized in real estate, as well. The WELL and Fitwel certifications focus on the health of tenants in that space. WELL does this using seven categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. Fitwel examines twelve categories: location, building access, outdoor spaces, entrances and ground floor, stairwells, indoor environment, workspaces, shared spaces, water supply, cafeterias and prepared food retail, vending machines and snack bars and emergency procedures. Are they any examples in the Columbus market? WELL Certified: 5185 Blazer Pkwy – Pepper Construction suite | 17,891 SF
1585 Neil Ave – Newton Hall addition at The Ohio State University | 38,000 SF • This is Ohio State’s first WELL certified building. • Includes “stress reduction and recovery room” on the third floor. 1800 Watermark Dr – HEAPY suite | 8,708 SF CoverMyMeds new HQ | 218,000 SF
Fitwel Certified: 2540 Olentangy River Rd – CAS building | 150,000 SF
Do these certifications lead to higher rents, sales prices and shorter lease-up periods? There is no definite proof in the Columbus market to date that these certifications have created higher rents or faster lease ups. However, we feel that moving forward (pending a cost analysis) they certainly could help win a deal with certain companies that value these types of certifications. We expect that BTS groups would feel the same. Further, our take is that the groups that will be most interested in these certifications will have better credit, resulting in higher sales prices via lower cap rates. Can we expect more spaces to gain this certification in Columbus in the future? The healthier employees are, the less sick time they will take and the more money employers will save. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, health and wellness are a significant concern for employers now more than ever. Because of this, we could see more WELL and Fitwel certified properties popping up around the area. Prior to the pandemic, the Columbus office market was experiencing the strongest activity seen in years, attracting a who’s who of tenants. In order to remain strong post-coronavirus, more WELL and Fitwel certified properties could attract prominent companies, continuing the region’s growth in the office sector.