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.

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