Remote business conferences and events drive demand for flexible space

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Left to right: Juda Srour of Jay Suites and 104 West 40th Street; Convene’s Phoenix Porcelli and 101 Park Avenue (LoopNet, LinkedIn/Phoenix Porcelli, 101Park.com)

Corporate conferencing can survive the era of remote work, after all.

Flexible landlords who manage short-term conference and event spaces say they’re seeing an increase in demand from businesses that have ditched the office but still need a gathering place for casual meetings and social gatherings. corporate events.

“People book these meeting rooms and bring their entire company in, whether it’s once or twice a month,” said Juda Srour, co-founder of flexible owner Jay Suites. “They gave up their office space and spent that money here.”

Jay Conference, a conference and events space division launched in 2018 by Jay Suites, recently signed a 40,000 square foot lease near Bryant Park for the company’s fifth and largest location.

Princeton International Properties’ 104 West 40th Street space features seven venues and a main venue that can accommodate 600 people. The location was previously occupied by Japanese operator TKP’s New York conference center with a private entrance on 39th Street, which made it easier for Srour to take control of the business.

The future of New York’s central business district is still very uncertain. Citywide office occupancy hit 40% in June for the first time since the pandemic, according to Kastle Systems.

Manhattan office leasing totaled 11.6 million square feet in the first half of the year, according to CBRE. That was up 83% from the previous year, but 3% below the five-year average.

And tenants who rent space take longer to do so. A tenant looking to lease 75,000 square feet or more took an average of 19 months to complete a transaction, 14.5% more than it took from 2017 to 2019, according to CBRE.

The owner of the Convene event space in July reopened a 20,000 square foot location near Grand Central Terminal at 101 Park Avenue that had closed during the pandemic and underwent a renovation.

Phoenix Porcelli, Convene’s vice president of sales, said the company is looking to open new locations in its existing markets and expand into new ones after Hudson’s Bay Company and Ares Management took a majority stake in Convene in April at a valuation of $500 million. (This figure was stable compared to Convene’s Series D funding round in 2018.)

Demand is up 133% from the same time last year, Porcelli said, and customers are booking spaces much closer to their event dates. The average booking window is just under 30 days, down from 67 days before the pandemic.

“We’re seeing a higher frequency of smaller events being booked in a much smaller window,” she said. “There is still a reluctance to book further in advance.”

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