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Ask the hard bottom-line questions first. What is the objective of renovating the building or interior space? Why do it now?
Who will occupy the space? How will they use it? How will value ultimately be accessed? How can capital investment be minimized and property value maximized?
What are the physical and economic barriers to success?
More questions to ponder: Conversely, does a less than up-to-date facility make this level of change impractical and cost-prohibitive?
Are corporate sustainability goals driving the decision to renovate? Take a realistic look at the surrounding neighborhood. Look for local or regional economic incentives. Second-generation buildings may sometimes be offered local tax or financing incentives, particularly deferred property taxes.
Develop an exit strategy for the property. What is the highest and best use for the property? If you were to convert the building for adaptive reuse, what would be the best solution for the corporation or a potential buyer?
If possible, consider making improvements that will add value later. Create a communication plan for the current occupants. What features made the building attractive when it was brand new? Does it have good bones? By opening the space, it gave everyone views from almost every direction, and that increased the value of the building.
Determine what features can and should be saved.
Prioritize the systems and features that need to be updated. This tells potential occupants or tenants they can expect generally lower utility expenses than in a conventional building.
First impressions are crucial to the salability of the finished project. What features make the building memorable from the outside—landscaping, aesthetic appeal, underground executive parking? For multi-tenant office campuses, planting seasonal flowers and changing them out frequently can attract tenant interest.
Reasonably priced and up-to-date finishes in elevator cabs, toilet rooms, and lobbies are essential. In other common areas, new finishes such as carpet colors and patterns, paint colors, and even ceiling tiles can help freshen and update the property.
Have a clear picture of who the potential tenants might be, and design for their needs. But that, too, may depend on the type of client, says McCafferty.
Consider a multi-step, phased redesign, rather than tackling the entire property at once.
A phased plan provides flexibility in cash flow and financing and greater variety in lease agreements, which can reduce financial risk to the owner or developer. Instead, set those funds aside for future improvements. Make sustainability part of the process. Looking at the current market for office space, McCafferty acknowledges that property owners are being even more cautious than usual about capital expenditures.
But with labor and materials at favorable prices, she says, now may be the best time to encourage building owners to invest in reconstruction.John's Beekeeping Notebook.
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