6PROFESSIONAL REPORT | SPRING EDITION 2014
The port city of Charleston, S.C., has been enjoying an economic renaissance with a lot of new manufacturing companies moving into the metro area. While there has
been new construction, there is still not enough space for all the
new jobs, so companies are looking at the vast amount of older,
vacant product for potential new plants. Although a lot of the
industrial space are decades-old, former distribution facilities,
some are getting rented, and some are not.
The building owners who are “winning,” says Simons Johnson,
SIOR, MCR, CCIM, a principal with Colliers International in
Charleston, are investing in their buildings to make them more
attractive and flexible, but “the guys that are sitting there and
hoping that their building will be leased because the market is
getting tighter are still sitting with vacant buildings."
Johnson likes to tell the tale of an older, orphaned building
surrounded by shiny, nice new buildings.
“It just sticks out because it is sitting there without any attention.
If someone would spend a minimal amount of money to make
it attractive it would stand a greater chance of being leased,”
Johnson explains. “It’s a great building; it’s just that people
discredit it just by the fact that it looks unappealing when they
He adds, if the owner just did a few basic tasks, paint the interior
and exterior, fix the asphalt and clean the yard, the intrinsic
value of the property would increase.”
In the broker business, the traditional debate between you and
your client is often what needs to be done to make a vacant
building quicker to lease and whether the owner will make that
An informal survey of brokers from around the country reports
brokers universally recommend a quick-fix enhancement of
space to set the office or industrial building apart from all others
on the market. This strategy works and is recommended no
matter the local economy, whether the market is like Houston or
down like Detroit.
“When potential tenants go on tour, they see a lot of buildings
and many times all the buildings feel the same by the end,”
observes Scott Perkins, SIOR, CCIM, the managing director
of corporate services for NAI James E. Hanson in Hackensack,
N.J. “However, if you have one building that seems incredibly
clean, well-lit, and sticks out on the tour, that is going to be the
space that leases.”
Perkins concedes there are landlords that don’t want to put a
dollar into their buildings until there is a tenant on the hook.
The state of the local economy doesn’t make a difference in regard to quick-fix enhancements
of a vacant property. Commercial real estate professionals in hot markets, as well as
dormant, recommend landlords make an investment in their properties if they want a more
receptive response from potential tenants. Depending on location, that investment should
be something as simple as painting and re-landscaping, or as complicated as a lobby
build-out and new bathrooms.
BY STEVE BERGSMAN
What upgrades can you
quickly and easily do to
enhance your space?