Thinking outside of the square
While some retail spaces remain empty in small town centres, some landlords are thinking outside of the square and signing up tenants no problem.
Five years ago DesignBASE architectural and engineering director Tony Williamson was looking to lease office space.
He was introduced to landlord Pat Houlihan and shown a rather run-down building available for rent.
Rather than being put off by the space, he propositioned the landlord to invest in upgrading the tired building and create a modern, high-end, functional space for businesses in Alexandra.
‘‘The way it was, he would not have got much rent from it. But he saw the vision I had for the building. I was happy to do some concepts to show him what it would look like and he spent hundreds of thousands to upgrade the building and get tenants. I was quite pleased because it was a reasonably big investment he had to make.
‘‘Once he saw the concept drawings on what we could do with the place, he gave us the go ahead to do the work and once it was completed, I moved in.
‘‘Five years ago, the end of this complex was empty, now there are four new businesses, including the business hub which currently has three occupants.’’
As well as investing money to upgrade, he was open to other innovative ideas suggested by his tenants. The most recent is cre- ating an office hub for individuals and not lock them into long-term leases. In fact, there is no lease for business hub tenants.
‘‘These are one-man-bands and they don’t want to sign up for three year leases. All they need to do is pay one month in advance and give two month’s notice.’’
When one of the tenants adjac- ent to the hub left, Williamson suggested to the landlord he knock a hole through the wall and add it to the business hub space. There is now a doorway in the room, and a large space for new tenants.
‘‘I said, I’ll run the hub if you put a hole in the wall and it will be a joint venture. That has filled up and now we’ve only got one space...Our landlord has done anything we have wanted. It isn’t an issue. If there is a problem, he will sort it.’’
The business hub concept had been so well received, the landlord was working with Williamson to possibly create another space on Talbert St, he said.