Assistant Property Manager (Community Manager)
As an Assistant Property Manager for Cushman & Wakefield, Cortney manages all of the event planning and tenant relations at the Lincoln Centre located in Dallas, Texas. The property, which is owned by global investment firm Nuveen Real Estate, boasts of a lively building community, sustainable office practices, and world-class workplace experiences. Cortney ensures that the Lincoln Centre’s tenants are connected to its many initiatives and programming, and serves as a communications liaison between tenants, property management, and building ownership.
Tell me about the Lincoln Centre. It looks like such a beautiful property!
Absolutely! We actually have a pretty large campus, about 1.6 million square feet. There are four buildings. Three of them are Lincoln Centre buildings and one is a hotel. All of these buildings have a modern, glass facade — they sparkle, no matter what time of year it is. We sit at the corner of two major highways just north of downtown Dallas in midtown. It’s a great centralized location, with easy access to other parts of town, airports, and surrounding suburban areas.
Nuveen has been renovating the property for the last several years, and it’s really become a state-of-the-art workplace. We added a huge fitness center, which is one of the largest corporate office fitness centers in the Dallas area. There are newly renovated lobbies and amenity spaces that take advantage of the outdoors and park scenery, including patio seating, fire pits, and a water feature. Recently, we also opened a dining hall that is designed to look and feel like a trendy restaurant, but is still very accessible and affordable. The food is amazing. Everything in Lincoln Centre is fresh and modern, with a bold but sleek design. It’s a very tenant-centric space that balances out the stressors of work. Everyone can relax, take advantage of our conveniences, and enjoy a wonderful microcosm of the Dallas/Fort Worth community; everything is right here for our tenants.
You mentioned you work for Cushman & Wakefield, and not Nuveen. What is that dynamic like?
Nuveen Real Estate owns our building, and Cushman & Wakefield is the property management company. It’s a great working relationship because our company values and principles align very well. Our team at Lincoln Centre is always looking for opportunities to incorporate responsible initiatives like inclusion and diversity, community, wellness, and environmental awareness through our amenities and programs. We also really strive for new ways we can expand these principles to have an impact on the greater community. Knowing we are on the same page and have Nuveen’s support makes it easier to accomplish these goals.
For example, I recently had the opportunity to work with Lincoln Centre’s Asset Manager to align on a handful of projects that are meaningful to the property. One of my favorite projects was completing a park mural. I collaborated with her and a local artist named Lori Rumi to figure out what should be depicted in the mural and to bring that vision to life. Now, our tenants have a beautiful work of art in our parks to bring a little more joy to their day.
And how long have you worked in the commercial real estate industry?
My background was actually in vacation rentals and hospitality, so I’ve only been on the commercial side for about two years. It’s funny, because I tell everyone that I feel like this job was made for me. It truly encompasses everything I love to do, and the team here is phenomenal. I love being able to bring a personal aspect to our tenants and introduce them to new experiences outside of work.
What kind of new experiences?
Well, we’ve brought in art classes, composting classes, and other types of programming to brighten our tenants’ day. We’ve even brought in urban beekeeping because it’s not only educational, but it’s fun. People who live in a city can understand the importance of pollinators and the role they play in our food supply. They can take home pollinator flowers so they can plant them on their own. There’s also a beehive on-site that tenants can visit. We have a group that comes here to harvest the honey, and we put it into branded jars that we give out as gifts later in the year to our tenants. It’s incredible to be able to delight people like that, and that they’re able to engage with Lincoln Centre in a way that is much more than a workplace.
In your perspective, what is the most challenging aspect of your job?
There’s always a lot going on, so it can be difficult to reach every tenant. There are still people who work remotely, who may not feel quite as engaged with the building as they once did. That is one of the things that we have really loved about having a tenant experience app. HqO has given us one more way to get information to tenants about what is going on here. We populate the app with everything: updates to current renovations, photos of happenings and events, and even virtual programming.
Now we can say, “Hey, if you’re working from home, we still have these fun things going on here that we want you to be a part of.” It’s really helping keep the Lincoln Centre community together and streamlining our communications. I’m sure it’s this way with a lot of properties, but we used to have to send emails to tenant contacts to distribute messages to their employees. With the app, anyone can sign up and have direct access to the latest property information and programming.
You care a lot about the tenant experience. Why is it so important to Cushman & Wakefield’s and Nuveen’s larger company goals?
In short, if tenants are happy and love where they work, they will let their bosses know that and they will continue to work here. Every job has its challenges, and being able to offer more than just a paycheck — like amenities and programming that allow employees to explore hobbies and other interests — helps people connect with colleagues and build meaningful relationships. It’s also important for everyone’s physical and mental wellness. We want Lincoln Centre tenants to have access to fitness and wellness programs, healthy food options, on-site car care, dry cleaning, blood drives, and our philanthropic programs. Really anything that helps make that work-life balance easier and more efficient is going to promote positivity and a sense of community. We really want Lincoln Centre to be a place our tenants enjoy coming to each day.
We’ve talked a lot about Lincoln Centre’s diverse programming and communications. What else do you use your tenant experience platform for?
We pushed really hard for data and analytics features from day one. We wanted to be able to see what our tenants were really interested in. At the beginning, you’re kind of putting in a lot of programming to see what sticks. So we did. And then we were able to go into the platform and see what people liked from a programming perspective. Were they really into fitness, or did they just want to learn how to mix cocktails and make charcuterie boards? Things like that have helped us significantly in terms of figuring out our audience, and what types of programming and amenities are important to our tenants. It’s also a useful cost strategy so that our budget is going towards initiatives that we know our tenants will love.
It’s also allowed us to have some insight into what concerns our tenants might have, especially as they begin returning to the workplace. If we see them looking at a lot of return to work information, we can reach out and give updates on building protocols to help tenants and employees feel safe and welcomed in the office. Having that behind-the-scenes knowledge on where people are and what they’re engaging with lets us know how to best care for them. Sometimes, I think people get caught up in work and their daily routines. They may not think to reach out to the management office for certain questions and requests. We hope they do, but if they don’t, the platform allows us to be proactive and go to them first and ask things like, “What can we do to make your transition easier as you’re bringing people back to the office?”
Technology is playing a huge role in what you’re doing at the Lincoln Centre. What role does it play in commercial real estate as a whole?
I can only speak from my perspective, but I think technology is getting more and more important as time goes on. People want their day to be efficient. They want it to be seamless. There’s so much to remember, especially if you’re a working professional with a family at home and all of these to-dos. So anything that can make life a little simpler and easier is always a good thing.
For example, one of the things we’re really trying to implement is being able to have touchless readers across the property. You just need to swipe your phone to get into the building. That way, you’re not keeping up with both a phone and a badge. Another convenience is being able to order ahead for food. Having the ability to look at our dining hall’s menu and choose what you want, then quickly run down and pick up your food and still make it to your conference call in 20-30 minutes is important.
We even use technology to offer discounts to local attractions. Before the app, people would have to either contact me by email or come into the office to take advantage of it. Now, if it’s the weekend and someone decides to go to Six Flags or some other local amusement park, they can pull it up on their app and get a discount right there. Technology is helping bring things to tenants’ fingertips, saving them time, and alleviating stressors throughout their days.
That’s all very true. What’s your take on the future of the office?
The hybrid way of working is becoming more common. Whether it’s working in an office setting, or having the ability to alternate when and where people work, it’s the way many companies are heading. Having a building app is almost a little bridge for both of those working environments and allows those who are working on-site to know what they are coming back to. It also gives those working remotely a way to stay connected so that they still feel that sense of community with their workplace even if they’re not there every day. That’s why we try to balance our digital and our on-site programming. There is something for everyone, and the app is the bridge enabling us to keep everyone connected even when there might be a physical disconnect.
This was all very insightful. Is there any advice you’d give to someone new to the industry, now that we’re in this digital age?
I think I would tell them to be open-minded. While I’ve always been a pretty big proponent of new technology, I sometimes find that I’m not so quick to jump in and embrace it right away. It’s challenging to learn anything new. But the benefits and rewards of new technology are worth it. To be transparent, I was not thrilled to adopt a building app because I didn’t think our tenants were going to use it. Now, as the person who is trying to communicate and engage people at home and in the office, I’ve found that it has given me one more tool that makes my job easier.
Having another place to share information, and get people on-board and engaged is a game-changer. Of course, no one anticipated the pandemic. But being able to make connections during a time like that when we couldn’t engage face-to-face was invaluable to us. So, I’d say be open-minded. Give it a try. It’s one more competitive factor that gives you an edge and helps with tenant engagement and satisfaction.
Conversations was a monthly blog series that featured the managers and partners who use HqO at the property level — the things they saw, the challenges they had, and how they thought technology impacted them. You can still catch these stories by subscribing to its podcast counterpart: Conversations with HqO. For more information about Cushman & Wakefield, click here. For more information about Nuveen, click here. To learn how HqO can elevate your tenant engagement strategies, schedule a free demo today.