I was in Perth Ontario this week visiting my friends at Zander Plan. I quite liked their offices in a renovated old industrial building, not surprisingly called simply the “Factory.”
It shows what can be done in terms of re-purposing an existing building, animating it and creating a boost for a local economy (in what is, after all, a small town of just 5,930 souls as reported by Stats Canada in 2016, up just 90 people from 2011).
The disappointment I had was that while they have produced an outside elevation that is highly textured and differentiated, they did not take advantage of their storefronts to provide individualized access for each unit. In fact, I could not find the entrance to Zander Plan even though I could see their offices from the outside. I tried an entry point, got lost, and found a cleaning lady who (finally) clued me in, in terms of how to actually access Zander Plan’s space. It was a bit frustrating.
It’s been my experience that when you give an office or industrial space or store for that matter, their own wow (window on the world), their own ingress/egress, the ability for customers and clients (not to mention employees and suppliers/deliveries/movers) to access the space directly from the outside with room for their signage overhead and parking right in front of their space (or in walkable communities, the sidewalk is a step away from their front door), rents go up, business improves, and more piercings in a building’s elevation makes the city and town more animated (and safer as well).
It’s a win for tenants, a win for the landlord and a win for the town. And it makes for a better experience for all other stakeholders in that location as well as nearby.
Here are some of the photos I took on my visit there:
you can’t get there from here!
interior entries that are not easy to find!
interior office view: where’s my sledgehammer when I need it?
So, break through those walls, Perth!
President Ronald Reagan said it better on the 12th day of June 1987 whilst in Berlin:
We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD
ROYAL LePAGE Performance Realty broker
Ottawa Senators founder
Real Estate Investment and Business coach
MAKING IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE
“Tear down this wall!” a speech by US President Ronald Reagan in West Berlin, June 12th, 1987, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tear_down_this_wall!
Perth Factory, https://perthfactory.com/about-the-factory/photo-gallery/
Stats Canada, https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/prof/details/page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo1=CSD&Code1=3509021&Geo2=PR&Code2=35&Data=Count&SearchText=Perth&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=01&B1=All
postscript: I’ve applied this thinking to second floor walk-up office space whereby we’ve added entrances at grade, which have identification/way-finding signage above them and give visitors access to a well-day-lighted feature stair leading to the second level. Rents for that walk-up space went from $8 per sq ft triple net to $16 and $18 and vacancies went down from 30% or near zero so we know it works.
We’ve also used it with what I call “manufactured walkout conditions” or dug basements, which not only give a tenant more light and their own individual access, it even provides them with private outdoor living/entertaining space: