Local tenants lead return to office at Honolulu’s Pacific Guardian Center

Original Article

More businesses are returning to their offices at Pacific Guardian Center in Downtown Honolulu a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of them local companies, according to the building’s asset manager.

“The local tenants are returning fairly rapidly – you can’t even get a seat at lunch now in the courtyard,” said H. Brian Moore, who manages the three-building complex for the Pacific Guardian Life insurance company. “We’re seeing local tenants returning at a fairly noticeable rate.”

Pacific Guardian Center, which includes the twin 30-story glass towers and the Dillingham Transportation Building at the base of Bishop Street, has also hired a new leasing team, Rock Tang and Cathy Delaporta of Cushman & Wakefield ChaneyBrooks, who have an office on the ground floor of the Makai Tower. Delaporta previously handled leasing at the building while at Hawaii Commercial Real Estate.

Moore said they were attracted to the firm because of its national and global reach. The complex is managed by Madison Marquette.

Moore also said that the building had installed ultraviolet lights, which kill pathogens, in the air-conditioning system two years ago, before anyone had heard of Covid-19. Since last year, it’s instituted other safety measures, such as requiring everyone to wear a mask on the property unless they are seated and eating, maintaining social distancing, allowing no more than three people at a time in each elevator car and placing directional signs in the public areas.

He said that while there are tenants, with some employees still working from home and fewer people coming into the office, who are seeking to downsize, others, including construction and engineering companies, are looking to expand.

“We have a new leasing team,” he said. “And they’re really ready to encourage people to talk about new layouts.”

Tang said recent research shows that office space still plays an important role in connectivity and collaboration.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of people rethinking their use of space,” Tang said. “There are some tenants who are looking to give up some space, there are tenants who are opting for shorter leases.”

About half of the tenants at the complex are national tenants, such as Morgan Stanley, and Moore said those are coming back slowly. Pacific Business News is also a tenant in PGC’s mauka tower.

Occupancy at the complex is currently about 83%; prior to the pandemic, Moore said occupancy was expected to reach 90%.

He also noted that there was no rent loss through the pandemic.

“We had some delays, but everyone’s been back, totally current,” he said, adding that some companies had used funds from the Paycheck Protection Program loans and others had received forbearances of three to six months. But everybody’s back, they don’t have any a single tenant on forbearance right now.”

Moore said Pacific Guardian Center is looking forward to resuming some of the outdoor activities at the complex perhaps this fall, including live music on Fridays, tenant events and even returning the ping-pong table to the courtyard.