NEW YORK , August 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A $25 million a recreation, fitness and conference space named The Playground + Conference Center officially opened today in the New York one iconic Seagram Building, fulfilling the vision of its owner, RFR, to “breathe the workplace” by offering tenants “a lifetime” – a community where people can work, socialize and exercise .
The 35,000 square foot facility was designed by RFR four years ago, but gained urgency after the pandemic as businesses tenants of the building sought incentives that would encourage their employees to return to the office after more than two years of working from home.
The extent and cost of The Playground are believed to make it unique in New York commercial real estate. RFR paved the way for the two-level multi-sports complex by redesigning the building’s underground parking lot to accommodate a 3,500 square foot fitness center, multi-sports open field, 22-foot-high rock climbing wall, stadium that can accommodate 150 people, a 50-seat conference room and a 40-seat training room.
The fitness center includes treadmills, ellipticals, Pelotons, Stairmaster, flat bench, incline bench, workout benches, power rack, dumbbells and the Precor Queenax functional system, used for high intensity interval training. The establishment’s spin studio is equipped with around ten bicycles. Yoga, Pilates, martial arts, and meditation classes are held in an adjacent Flex Room.
The space also includes recreational games, a hydration lounge, and locker rooms equipped with showers and changing rooms. Colon Alleya veteran in the field, has been named Fitness Director of The Playground.
The Playground’s open court, designed for basketball, pickleball, volleyball and soccer, can be transformed into a 150-seat theater for town hall meetings and big-screen presentations. With the push of a button, the south wall of the pitch swings open and eight rows of polished wooden seats cascade across the pitch.
At the north end of the open courtyard, the climbing wall beckons adventurers with Expert, Difficult, Intermediate, and Beginner routes and self-belaying safety harnesses that take up slack as climbers ascend and descend.
“Long before the pandemic, we recognized that the parking garages in our buildings represent valuable space that could be put to better use for the benefit of our tenants,” said Sheldon Werdiger, RFR manager of marketing and design development. “At the Seagram Building, we saw an opportunity to create something extraordinary that will ensure it continues to remain the most famous office building in the world.”
In preparation for this week’s opening, RFR and Arch Equipment Groupthe director of The Playground, has worked with two tech companies – VTS Rise in manhattan and BuildingEngines in Boston – to build a smartphone app that replaces building ID cards and allows employees to reserve time on the court and the climbing wall and in the spinning, cardio and weight studios.
Renters can also use the app’s Mind-Body link to sign up for high-intensity interval training and classes in yoga, Pilates, martial arts, and meditation. The app also offers self-guided tours of the fine arts on display throughout the building.
“This is where our approach to hospitality shifts from a physical experience to a digital experience,” said Zach Pointonhead of hospitality at Arch Amenities Group, adding that future features will include real-time local transport information, including subways, buses and flights arriving and departing from New York three major airports in the region.
The Playground has already caught the eye of other landlords, said AJ Camhi, rental manager at RFR. “The Playground is all the talk of the market right now. No other commercial building in New York has a basketball and pickleball court. The owners try to show them around. Brokers talk to their owner clients. It’s the ultimate compliment.”
Werdiger said RFR’s investment in The Playground aligns with its tenant companies’ new priorities: to attract and retain the most qualified and talented employees. Corporate offices were once designed to appeal to senior executives by offering spectacular office views and exclusive amenities, such as underground parking.
“After COVID, employers are realizing that they need to make their office space more attractive than working from home in order to respond to changing work culture and encourage employees to return,” a- he declared. “Everyone who works in the Seagram Building will now, in essence, get a free gym membership and a place to socialize with co-workers – perks they wouldn’t enjoy staying at home. “
The strategy is working. The Seagram Building lost its main tenant just before the pandemic, but has now leased 95% of that space to new tenants, a success that RFR attributes, in large part, to its investment in The Playground. “Tenants promote The Playground to encourage — not compel — their employees to come back to the office,” Camhi said.
RFR, which also owns and manages several other landmark buildings, is continually looking for creative ways to attract tenants who might otherwise be tempted to move into new properties coming on the market, Werdiger said. “You don’t want these classic buildings to just turn into museums and dinosaurs. You want them to always continue to be relevant and the best.”
Mike Flanagan, Chief Growth Officer of Arch Amenities Group, said The Playground exemplifies the type of amenity space that appeals to today’s workforce. “We have to create reasons for people to come back to work,” he said. “To do this, we need to blur the distinction between amenities and workspace and create environments that are highly collaborative and strongly focused on hospitality.
“Employees don’t want to sit in a cubicle anymore. They want to go hang out in a lounge and different types of seating arrangements and work environments and be able to go to the fitness center and have a coffee on the rooftop if they want to. wish.”
The 38-story Seagram Building at 375 Park Ave. between 52nd and 53rd Street in Midtown Manhattan, was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe with Philip Johnson. Built in 1956-58, it was designed as the headquarters of Canadian distillers Joseph E. Seagram & Son. the New York one Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building and its place as a landmark in 1989. RFR acquired full ownership in 2013 and continues to expand the significance of what the building means to New York and the world.
Architectural Studios of New York and Paris was the architect of The Playground project. The graphic design was provided by GHD Partners, New York. The lighting designer was Focus Lighting Inc., New York. URBN playground, New York, was the gym’s consultant. The structural engineer was Severud Associates, New York. The mechanical engineer was CFS Engineering, New York. Audio visual, acoustic and security systems were provided by Harvey Marshall Berling Associates, New York.
RFR is a manhattanprivate investment, development and property management company, founded in 1991 by Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs. The company has built a world-class portfolio of commercial and residential real estate, including a large number of the New York one iconic office towers, ultra-luxury condominiums, high-end hotels and retail developments.
About Arch Amenities Group
Arch Equipment Groupsituated at Rockville, Maryland, is a leading provider of wellness, amenities and meeting services for commercial and residential properties, hotels and private clubs worldwide. Arch provides day-to-day management services as well as feasibility studies, planning and design advice and pre-opening assistance. Arch is a holding company of a private equity firm CI Capital Partners.
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SOURCERFR Holding LLC; Arch Equipment Group