“Employers’ rising confidence in the economy and their determination to woo skilled workers with hip office environments fueled increased rents and competition for prime Manhattan space during the third quarter, brokers said.”—The Wall Street Journal
Last week, as third-quarter reports were released, it became clear that the robust commercial real estate market we’ve been experiencing is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. However, reports or no reports, I could have told you the same thing!
This last week alone I heard from a firm we assisted a decade ago. They reached back out to us, as their lease was about to come to term. Should they renegotiate or consider a move? A similar call came in right behind that one. My client, fresh off his morning workout, emailed over a preliminary mark-up of a floor plan from many years ago—one we worked closely with them on—and wanted to set up a time to talk options before he gave his brokers a ring.
For us, this uptick in activity is less about a strong market—even if it’s true that we’re in the midst of one—and more about the continuation of trusted client relationships. With so many members of a team involved in a lease renewal, expansion or relocation, the ultimate compliment is being brought into the decision-making process early on. We’ve even had the pleasure of being a company’s first call and sitting, literally, by their side as they selected a new brokerage team, an owner’s rep or a furniture vendor. I call this phenomenon “growing together.”
Ten years ago, a tenant might have come to us as a start-up. Over the years, we’ve stayed in close touch and maintained a friendly connection, helping them with the need for a new pantry or reception desk. As their business has come into its own, they are ready to take that next step. Maybe they are in need of better acoustics to go along with a larger workforce. Or they want to incorporate new technology and stand-up desks to stay up-to-date. Perhaps a benching solution could allow for increased density and cost savings. In a market as tight as the one we’ve experienced in 2014, it’s important to think carefully about how to best configure space, especially if it’s an excellent location that works for your business model (and maybe even includes stellar views). The decision of whether you stay or go is one that deserves special consideration.
A decade can bring about many changes. A fitness center that once seemed important is now, thanks to the excellent health club options around the corner, better utilized as a spacious pantry and informal collaboration spot. It’s true, companies change and so do their needs, but if we, as architects, do our job well, we’ll have the privilege of growing and changing with them.
Like any interpersonal relationship that spans many years, trust is at the very core. With that in place, the partnership can thrive and allow one party to be even more present for the other. It’s empowering to be that first call or that sounding board and it’s a role we’ll never take for granted. So, when you pick up that phone and call or email over some ideas, we’ll happily share that next step in the journey with you.
Scott E. Spector, AIA, is a principal at Spector Group, one of New York’s premier architecture and interior design firms and a leader in corporate tenant and building owner-based design. The award-winning company has affiliate offices nationally and internationally. To date, it has completed more than 1,500 projects.