By Patricia Kirk, Bisnow

Rising Realty Partners has acquired two office projects in Downtown LA and an office complex formerly occupied by an aerospace company in Calabasas, all of which will be transformed to creative office space. Bisnow caught up with Rising president Chris Rising last week to get details on what's planned for these projects. Chris is among the all-star panelists speaking at Bisnow's Los Angeles State of the Market event, Jan. 19 at the JW Marriott at LA Live. 

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Bisnow: Your firm acquired the historic SoCal Edison building, rebranded One Bunker Hill, and plans to transform it to creative office space. Your company also transformed a historic industrial building in Old Pasadena to creative office space. What are the greatest challenges in this process and why do it? What are the benefits?

Chris Rising: It's part of our philosophy and mission to create value where others haven't. We do this by focusing on impact: environmental, technological and social impact. We continuously focus on issues like sustainability, including LEED, building systems and operational efficiencies, and lowering the project's carbon footprint.

Bisnow: How big of a role does technology play in this?

Chris Rising: We take great pride in our ability to bring technological innovation to our projects. Through our company, 5x5 Telecom, we are able to bring the fastest fiber connections and build out secure wireless networks for our tenants and guests throughout the entire project. We are able to take 20th century buildings and make them work for companies that must compete in the 21st century. (This picture was snapped on Necker Island with wife Anna-Christine and children Annelise, John-Carl and Arianne.)

Bisnow: What else goes into these massive undertakings?

Chris Rising: We are always focused on our project's social impact. We believe that each project should have its own identity and brand. It should be an environment where the experience is unlike any other, something we like to call the “Rising Experience."

Whether it's raising money for a charity, bringing tenants and guests together for an outdoor movie, or bringing together a unique retail experience, our projects contribute to building community. When we are able to adapt and execute best solutions for these challenges, we produce exponential returns that enable the project's positive impact to remain for perpetuity. (Snapped here at The Park DTLA is Steve Smith Sharkreach CEO speaking at JavonFrazier's UCLA Extension marketing class.)

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Bisnow: Can you please provide some details on what's planned at One Bunker Hill?

Chris Rising: We're very excited about our plans for One Bunker Hill. This is the first real “jewel box,” Class-A building in Downtown LA that once was the headquarters of Southern California Edison. Over the years, previous owners made changes and pseudo improvements that have taken away from its original beauty. Our primary focus is a restoration, not a renovation. We want to remove the exterior “green houses” and bring back outdoor use of the patios. We are really looking to upgrade the feel of the lobby and make it a place where our tenants and their employees can interact and work.

We will always focus on our impact strategy, and we will work hard to bring the “Rising Experience” in its own unique way to this project. It is a well-leased project, but we are looking forward to creating tenant spaces that have lots of light and high ceilings. As leases roll over, we plan to upgrade elevator lobbies and combine spaces into bigger unit sizes. We are really excited about some announcements we will make about this project in early 2016.

Bisnow: You also acquired Figueroa Courtyard at 523 W 6th St. What are your plans for that complex and how will you approach upgrades with tenants in place without being too disruptive to their operations?

Chris Rising: We are very pleased with the launch of our new branded project on Figueroa between 2nd and 3rd streets. Now known as The Park DTLA, this is the only campus-style project in Downtown LA with over 30k SF of private outdoor workspace. It already has a Millennial feel to it. Whether it's artwork by Bumblebee, hammocks and Cornhole (lawn game like bean-bag toss), or solar-powered charging stations, we are radically changing the look and feel of The Park DTLA. 

It is a longtime home for some tenants, including the UCLA Extension, OneLegacy, StubHub and Minnesota Public Radio, so there is a lot of young energy that needs an environment to reflect the exciting businesses already there, along with those that soon will be there. We are doing some major renovations on the corner of 3rd and Figueroa, where we are creating an outdoor amphitheater for our tenants and guests. We are also beginning a major landscaping renovation that will truly allow for an indoor/outdoor work experience—all with sustainable and drought-tolerant planning. Of course, we are bringing our Impact Strategy to this project as well.

I don't know how many projects are issued a property management mandate their first year to “lower costs for tenants and make sure they are having fun.” We also hope to have some major announcements for this project in early 2016, but rest assured, we are working hard to establish an amazing experience like no other in downtown at The Park DTLA.

Bisnow: You also transformed an old Calabasas aerospace complex with lovely grounds to creative space. What types of improvements were incorporated into this space to attract creative users?

Chris Rising: When we acquired 4500 Park Granada, we knew we would have to wait to get our hands on the renovation. Bank of America is still a tenant at the building, but they will be out by the end of the year. This is an amazing project that sits on 23 acres, with a flowing creek and hiking trails throughout the campus.

It is approximately 240k SF, and we believe it is the canvas for an amazing multi-tenant experience in Calabasas. It’s between the Calabasas Golf Club and Rick Caruso's The Commons (outdoor shopping district). In fact, our team has been meeting with architects and contractors the past few weeks because we are eager to start our transformation when the bank departs at the end of the month.

We are big believers that this area of SoCal is not only for tech companies, but also healthcare, financial services, and even entertainment companies. We are excited to rebrand the project and bring the Rising Impact Strategy to Calabasas. We are already ahead of the game in that regard, as the project currently has five Bloom natural gas generators that significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the project. 

Bisnow: What do you predict will be the next big thing or creative space 2.0?

Chris Rising: We believe the open-space office environment is here to stay, and the tech industry will continue to drive this type of office interaction even more toward the door-less work environment. We think that open space 2.0 will see tremendous improvement in how artificial white noise machines that allow employees to effectively create “cones of silence” around themselves, while a colleague is five feet away.

Furniture designs, such as from Teknion and Framery, have evolved into really exciting space planning solutions. We also believe that workspaces that allow for indoor/outdoor work will be in the highest demand.

Lastly, if an owner cannot supply extremely fast download and upload speeds at low costs, they will be at a significant disadvantage.

Bisnow: Are there any types of users who still prefer traditional office space?

Chris Rising: We believe that users who still choose a more traditional office layout are influenced by people who either do not value the efficiency and effectiveness of today's technology or don't see a reason to change the way they have traditionally operated. Either way, that is a smaller and smaller percentage of tenants in the marketplace. Further, we are not trying to be all things to all people. If the Rising Experience isn't for you as a tenant, there are lots of other options in the marketplace. Our investors and our partners believe in the Rising Impact Strategy, and we are focused on executing that in every project we do.

Bisnow: By 2030—just 14 years from now—all new or substantially upgraded buildings in California will be required to be Net Zero Energy (NZE). What types of sustainability features are being incorporated into your company’s projects?

Chris Rising: We are firm believers in NZE, and it is part of our mission statement to deliver projects that either meet or get as close to NZE as possible. We actually have some exciting announcements around this type of impact that we look forward to sharing next year. (Pictured is 87 Raymond, a century-old industrial building in Old Pasadena that Rising converted to creative office.)