Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Seven Proven Strategies to Fill Vacant Office Spaces in Dying Downtowns

Have you started to notice more vacancies in your local office buildings and strip shopping centers?

If you watched one of my latest YouTube videos, you will see me in front of a vacant office/warehouse building that is 720,000 SF. It used to be a major distribution plant for K B Toys before they went out of business in NJ.

How can we fill our vacant offices in our dying downtowns?

That was the subject that I spoke about last Monday at this year’s Main Street Forum. Although my new book, The Designed Office, will give you invaluable tips on how to find the best office space for your business needs, give you critical design principals to have your architect/engineers/interior designers to follow, how to build-out your new office space on time and within your budget, and many other maintenance and “green” ideas, you won’t hear much from my book when reviewing the DVD of my Main Street Forum talk, “Making Your Work Place Work for You.”

Instead, I spoke about the changes of our economy, challenge the notion that “green” design is of any benefit to the tenant or to the landlord, and I give some strategies that towns can begin to implement now to boost the sales and leases of their commercial real estate within their central business districts.

Here are seven strategies that towns can implement to help reduce vacancies in their downtowns:

1. Create a safe environment. If people have any reason to fear of their safety, any other strategy will not help fill vacancies.

2. Don’t have a blocked up Main Street that forces drivers to park their cars behind the commercial district while creating a pedestrian mall where Main Street once existed. This might have worked successfully in a couple of places in American, but for the most part, the result of this urban experiment was a disaster. People just found other places to shop.

3. Follow the LEED requirements for Existing Buildings if possible. My talk will illustrate how building owners have filled their office buildings faster than their competition while increasing the value of their building’s bottom line.

4. Have a nice variety of stores and offices that compliments, does not compete, and surrounds an anchor store or industry.

5. Resist having Real Estate offices in prime locations of the CBD. Real Estate offices can often afford to lease or own prime downtown real estate. But when they do, they attract on time shoppers who are not interested in mingling around the downtown shops over and over again. They are there to only buy a home that is not even located in the central business district.

6. Have a good partnership between the local government officials and the private sector (merchants, residents, civic groups, corporations). For example, if you have townspeople who have lived there all of their lives and don’t want change while also having young and up-in-coming professionals who want to transform the town, you will be constantly in conflict while the vacancies continue to climb.

7. Good Ambiance. The Main Street must have a soul. This can be done with landscaping, events, sidewalk cafes, street lights, historical references, plenty of parking, and the use of our Experience Architecture design philosophy.

If you would like a copy of the DVD, just email me at to inquire about it.

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