July 8, 2021 Development
BPG opens doors to its first ground up commercial office space built during the Coronavirus pandemic, Best Egg at Marlette Funding–a triumph of adaptation and creative solutions in response to emerging trends in mixed-use development.
Wilmington-based developer, The Buccini/Pollin Group, Inc. (BPG), and BPGS Construction, announced Tuesday June 29th, the grand opening of a new three-story, 60,000 SF built-to-suit Class A office space for the financial technology company, Marlette Holdings, Inc., the parent company of the Best Egg consumer lending platform. Located at 3419 Silverside Road, the project is BPG’s first ground-up building designed with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind.
Gov. John Carney and New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer joined BPG officials, Chris Buccini, Co-President; Mike Hare, Executive Vice President of Development; and Jeffrey Meiler, CEO of Marlette Holdings to mark the Grand Opening occasion.
Just over a year ago, construction manager, BPGS Construction broke ground at Marlette’s North Wilmington headquarters and construction was never halted thanks to the State’s decision for construction work to continue during the coronavirus pandemic. The team celebrated the topping out in-person in October 2020 as an important milestone not only for the project but for the state’s COVID-19 response plan. Over the course of the project, more than two hundred construction workers were employed full time.
“It’s been a tough year and this is a great way to celebrate exciting things happening in our state,” said Governor John Carney. “As I talk about the ingredients for success it really comes down to people like the Buccini’s, people like Jeff at Marlette, all of the employees that work for BPG – you are the ones that make our economy work.”
And work they did. As Marlette and BPG embarked on construction of the building, both sides stayed close to what trends were happening during the pandemic year. Both teams had open dialogue about how to incorporate employee health, safety, and wellness items into the final design. This collaboration allowed the groups to partner in a way that kept the Marlette colleagues at the center of what was included in the facility.
“The building itself is beautiful and reflects the months of hard work and dedication by the teams to bring this building to fruition, even in the face of a global pandemic,” said County Executive Meyer.
The new building features a black brick façade with a variety of 2″ and 3″ thick insulated metal wall panels visible from Silverside Road. The main entrance has a double height atrium that opens to a grand stair with glass railing and terrazzo tile. Italian concrete panels wrap the café countertops in each of the 3 open kitchen areas. Amenities include a fitness center, locker rooms, patio with TV’s, ping pong and foosball tables and booth seating.
Wall treatments, branding and signage were completed by Montgomery County interior design collaborative, D2 Groups. Peppered throughout the three stories are acoustic wood ceilings, whimsical installations, and local art by award winning folk artist, Eunice Lafate chosen for their focus on diversity.
Marlette’s new headquarters is viewed as a strategic asset that will enable the company’s growth aspirations over the upcoming year. Their approach includes providing employees with working flexibility while leveraging technology and new processes to ensure employee safety. With the inclusion of unique features that make it easy to socially distance, state-of-the-art technology, and industry leading health and wellness innovations the workplace is very much “of the future.”
“Earlier this year, we surveyed our employees to understand their individual concerns and working preferences. From there, we decided to offer people the freedom to choose the appropriate working arrangement given their role and circumstances. Just over 1/3 of our employees indicated a desire to return to the office for three or more days a week. Anyone who wants to be in the office is required to be vaccinated. Employees who choose to work from the office will use a pre-screen health check app as well as have a temperature scan upon entrance into the building. We have a tremendous amount of hiring to do this year and our plan is to continue to be flexible and solicit feedback from our employees to modify our approach over time as appropriate for them and the business,” says Jeffery Meiler, CEO of Marlette Holdings.
There are numerous steps that Marlette is taking to ensure their employees who return to the office are comfortable. Technology has been leveraged to ensure the buildings cleanings are effective and efficient based on usage. Desk booking software allows employees to book a desk from their phone or collaborate with a different team in one of the 48 open collaboration spaces, enabling teams to work together while maintaining social distancing. Other building modernizations include a bipolar ionization air filtration system to produce cleaner air and trap more pathogens such as viruses, odor, dust and pollen. Antimicrobial paint has been used in high traffic areas throughout the building to make surfaces more resistant to microbes.
Not only do today’s events celebrate the grand opening of the building, but also Marlette’s return to the workplace after 486 days of remote work.
“We are thrilled to finally open the doors to our new building. Coming out of the pandemic, we are anxious to get back together in a workspace that reflects the changes our society endured and one that reflects our commitment to the changes happening in the FinTech world,” says Jeffery Meiler. “This is a monumental moment for us as a company and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Marlette Holdings.”
In early June, Marlette announced the official launch of the Best Egg Credit Card program – the first of new product capabilities the company is prepared to launch in 2021. With the development of its new product lines, the organization needed a workspace that fit both employee growth and the expansion of offerings. Marlette is experiencing high growth and achieving record levels of originations, with loan volume increasing 4X since the end of 2020. This new facility was necessary for the organization to keep up with the pace at which the company is growing.
Apart from Marlette’s completion signifying BPG’s ongoing commitment to the fintech industry, it also represents the fortitude of the hands involved. “It may not be the biggest building in our portfolio, but this building stands for courage more than anything we’ve ever built,” said Chris Buccini, Co-President of the Buccini/Pollin Group. “It’s very rare that buildings like this get built in Delaware but they certainly don’t get built in the middle of a global pandemic. It takes courage to make these hard decisions, to keep construction going when you do not have a playbook.”
This is one of the first new office buildings built in all northern New Castle County in the past 25 years that isn’t corporate owned. The northern New Castle County office market is the strongest in the entire state and one of the strongest in the in the Philadelphia MSA. Concord Plaza went from being 58% occupied to 92% occupied today. This project represents the continued need for Class A office space made for the modern, post COVID workplace.
BPG purchased the former Concord Plaza in 2003 and in 2016 launched an extensive mixed-use redevelopment project. The first phase, completed in June 2019, built 166 luxury apartments and high-end retail at The Concord. The second phase is underway with the completion of Marlette’s new headquarters and will bring additional apartments, for a total of 6 buildings, retail, and office space. To date, BPG has invested more than $100 million in renovations at the 45-acre project taking it from 58% Occupancy in 2016 to 92% leased today (Office) and nearly 99% leased (residential).
Other tenants at The Concord include Platinum Dining Group restaurants Taverna and El Camino Mexican Kitchen, Manhattan Bagel, Amstel Barbershop, Solidcore, Legion Transformation Center and BORO Gelato (under construction). Building C is under Construction and slated for completion in July 2021. Building A as not yet commenced construction but is slated to start Spring 2021. Buildings B, D and E, were completed in June of 2019.