Atria a Trademark
The trademark of Cali office buildings over the years has been the incorporation of dramatic atria. The firm insisted on such spectacular design elements long before they became fashionable, the Cali brothers note. At the developers’ 240,000square-foot 101 Eisenhower Parkway office building in Roseland, NJ., Cali effectively set the development standard in New Jersey, Angelo Cali notes.
Impressive atria have been a trademark of Cali’s developments long before such interior features became fashionable. Here, lush greenery appoints the lobby atrium of Cali’s 235,000-sq-ft. Cali Corporate Center building in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.
"Up until the time we built 101 Eisenhower Parkway, most large office buildings were between 60,000 and 90.000 square feet. We put up a building that was almost triple the size and we provided, through use of the atrium, for the human element. Our competitors perceived such a design element as wasted space and they continued to build what they considered to be ‘practical’ structures."
Nevertheless, Cali’s gamble paid off. The building has been 100% occupied since it opened. [A 151,000-square-foot companion building, completed in 1985, also is fully occupied.] "We provided a very friendly atmosphere in the lobby with a restaurant, the atrium and waterfall features—what is nowadays considered to be the usual thing," says John J. Cali. "Employees found it to be very relaxing and quite unlike working in a very bland business atmosphere. And the tenants loved it because their employees loved it."
The New Jersey regional office of accounting giant Arthur Andersen has anchored 101 Eisenhower Parkway since it opened, occupying approximately 56,000 square feet on the entire third floor in a 1980 move from offices in Newark. One of the primary reasons for its long-term lease in Cali’s building was the central location along Interstate 280, providing access to the state’s major highways, says Ed DiYanni, director of administration for the regional operation. "At the time, Interstate 280 was really opening up this part of the state," he explains. "Consequently, the building became very attractive to us. It provided better access and a safer environment for our client base, who we found more and more were moving to the suburbs."
Over the years, Mr. DiYanni says he has found Cali to be an extremely responsive landlord. "They have really been like a partner with us," he attests. "They’ve been responsive to our suggestions to make the building run a little better or more efficiently. whether it’s with elevators, security or parking services. We’ve found them to be on the same wavelength with us."
Tenant relations are a prime concern of the Cali organization and are being emphasized these days by the second generation of company leadership: John’s son Brant, and Angelo’s son John R. Cali.
The organization currently boasts 90%plus occupancy in its commercial portfolio and attributes much of that success to a proactive tenant retention program and a hands-on management approach. Each property is assigned an on-site superintendent and a company partner to oversee building management and tenant relations. "We train the on-site person in tenant communications, certain aspects of the lease that are pertinent to his day-to-day operations and troubleshooting problems on site," explains John R. Cali. "He, in turn, typically takes on a certain training function with the various office managers of tenants so that they establish a working rapport and everybody knows where responsibilities start and stop."
John R. Cali notes that he and his cousin Brant "have always had a managerial leaning, probably because of our organizational training in graduate school." As a result, they often approach common tenant concerns, such as HVAC, in methodical ways.
©Copyright 1991 Real Estate Forum