In the News (Tim With) - How I Match Older Buildings With Contemporary Needs

Hunter Riley Reporter - Albuquerque Business First Finding just the right office space can be an important part of building or maintaining a business. But new buildings aren’t always available and the space that is isn’t always designed to match with contemporary ideas about how an office should function. To find out how to make the existing stock fit with the requests,

Albuquerque Business First talked with Tim With of Colliers International.

How have the needs people have for an office building changed over the last five to 10 years?

More than ever, tenants are concerned about their overhead and how much space they actually need to effectively operate their business. In order to manage occupancy costs, businesses have been reducing their square footage allocations per worker by better utilizing space, thus reducing the number of offices and moving toward a more modular environment. Not only does this create more density within the space but it also offers flexibility if they need to reconfigure their layout in the future. A challenge created by this trend is that office users are putting a larger strain on building systems such as power, telecom and HVAC utility costs, floor loads, parking and janitorial services. Another trend is that the remote workforce is increasing due to advancements in technology and communications bandwidth. Many companies are offering employees the option to work from home or out in the field thus reducing the need to occupy as much physical lease space.

How do you make older buildings that might have been designed with different needs in mind still attractive to clients now?

Age is not necessarily a concern so long as the building is well-located and maintained in a quality fashion. The challenges come when older buildings were designed with nine-foot or lower ceilings, small floor plates, and inadequate parking facilities. Perceptions about older office buildings can be overcome if an owner has modernized their property to include efficient heating and cooling systems, lighting, and are willing to reconfigure interior improvements installed decades ago with current designs. Owners must also be aware of demand and supply of space available in the market and offer lease rates and concessions that lure tenants to their buildings.

What are some of the advantages of older buildings over newer structures?

The biggest advantage has to be the affordability. Tenants can often find lease rates for older buildings for 25 percent to 50 percent lower than what newer buildings offer. In addition, owner-occupiers or investors can acquire an older building at a fraction of the cost of a newer structure. In many cases location may be another advantage as much of the newer office product has been built outside or on the fringe of the main business districts and may not have the same convenience to services and amenities as older buildings located in established commercial corridors. Finally, many older buildings have historic and/or architectural character within the community and offer intrinsic value to the office user.