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The Role of the Landlord

The role of urban landlords and their responsibilities have changed. With tenants leveraging features and amenities aimed at improving worker retention, simply managing buildings is merely the baseline - especially when it comes to evolving urban landscapes and demographics. As the urban agenda draws us closer together, new live-work-play models set the standard for property management moving forward.


2018’s inaugural CATALYST conference, co-sponsored with Convene, gathered nearly 200 of commercial real estate’s top owners in New York City for intimate conversations focused on exploring how technology advancement impacts future of urban development and capital deployment across the urban landscape.

This panel featured Mike Fransen, Allison Johnson, Andrea Jang, and Sara Queen, in a conversation moderated by Nick Romito, VTS CEO & Co-Founder.



Retaining talent is the primary challenge on nearly every client’s agenda. In effect, the role of a property manager has transitioned from a focus on facilities and mechanics to anticipating tenant and guests needs, part strategic, part hospitality. As professionals with flexible work arrangements increases across the contemporary workforce, the typical flash of a Class-A trophy asset no longer carries the same weight. Lease deals closing based on "swell lobbies" as the selling point have come and gone.

Andrea Jang, currently Growth Lead for JLL Spark, commented on changed responsibilities for property managers in the face of new demands:

It’s not just being able to run a building, but also figuring out which elements really draw a tenant into the workplace…How do you make the people in your building feel that they can have an efficient, productive life and have the property managers around them help enable that.


From career decisions to social interactions, increasingly, millennials are looking for a communal experiences, and meeting that demand falls directly to the landlord. Sara Queen, WX 2017 Woman of the Year, remarked,

One of the things that landlords need to think about is ‘How do we create a community?’ Because, ultimately, what we’re doing is providing a service.

Simply building out new assets no longer guarantees retainable tenants. To differentiate a location and make it stand out from all the noise, what can property managers provide to enhance community experiences? To this point, Allison Johnson, COO of Make Offices, added,

We’re moving from the physical amenity to the experience; capturing their engagement, making the building a neighborhood, that kind of canvas is the next step.

Vital to effectively assisting in these transformations requires paying genuine attention to demographic details. Gathering that information may drive decisions to offer conveniences as diverse as health and wellness, cutting edge retail, local food and dining, spaces for nature, even daycare.

Adding these amenities requires a landlord’s heightened personal attention to ongoing detail and interaction with anyone engaged with the asset. Mike Fransen, COO of Parkway, emphasized,

I always try to articulate: if all of the pressure on success is focused on the space, and you haven’t gotten [your tenants] bought in by the time you get the space, you’re done.


Given all of the new emphasis placed on the asset’s added value, Nick Romito commented that,

You can do all of this stuff; but if you’re in an area where no one wants to go, it doesn’t really matter. Owners, and their process and their strategy, can materially change a neighborhood.

Fundamentally, the new urban agenda for owners centers on creating appealing, enhanced environments both within and surrounding the property.

Interested in learning more from these panelists on what differentiates neighborhoods that people want to live, work, and play in?

Watch the full panel replay.


We’re excited about challenging one another with new innovations at Catalyst 2019.

Learn more about the upcoming event here. New call-to-action

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Rochelle A. Carter-Wilson

Written by Rochelle A. Carter-Wilson

Rochelle is the Content Marketing Manager for Honest Buildings. She creates stories and other on-brand content to inform and engage owners and other members of the Commercial Real Estate industry.

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