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OnlineBuildings.com offers turnkey, customized Web services.

There's mounting evidence that those involved in the commercial real estate industry are increasingly recognizing the role and importance of technology. The signs are everywhere, as brokers, owners, developers, facility managers and architectural designers have finally realized how to incorporate technology in today's environment.

For many, the investment in technology is not just a necessary evil, but when used effectively it can help favorably impact the bottom line through cost savings, improved efficiency and greater productivity.

One case in point is OnlineBuildings.com, a partnership between Montroy Andersen, a leading architectural interiors design firm, and Weidlinger Associates, a leader in applied science and computer applications for the government and private sector. The Internet company has developed a portfolio of products and services to assist the real estate professional in the promotion, marketing and management of commercial and residential real estate. What once may have be viewed as an unlikely partnership, today makes perfect sense for both parties, as well as those clients they serve.

According to principal Dan Mentroy, "OnlineBuildings.comoffers clients turnkey web-enabling products and services, customized to meet specific client needs. It's more than creating a web site. It starts with understanding client objectives and developing a comprehensive, and often proprietary web-based program. For owners, developers, facility managers and brokers, a key aspect is the use of 'virtual reality' technology that allows all involved access to up-to-the-minute information, providing each with the capacity to work in real time, without leaving their desk."

The idea of OnlineBuildings.com developed from Mentroy Andersen's project management sites via the Internet, which allowed real time communication with dispersed members of a project team. The advantages of this virtual technology are clear for the user. Bottlenecks are eliminated and response time is decreased by 50 percent or more. In other words, no more phone tag. Shortened review cycles, reduced travel, meeting, priming and shipping costs, and increased accountability are other major advantages. Ultimately, it can help to strengthen the relationship between partnering companies.

As one of the first architectural firms to develop such a project management tool online for clients including Plenum Publishing and DHR International, it was a prelude to the company broadening its services and capabilities to accommodate a variety of client needs. "There is a synergy between real estate professionals and we saw this as an opportunity to spin off our technical ability to create a comprehensive tool that makes sense for everyone," said Montroy.

In addition to the ability to manage design projects, OnlineBuildings.comhas grown to include promotional building sites for commercial properties, broker/team web sites, planning and programming services, and facilities management and lease administration.

"The key ingredient is the development of a visually appealing, creative promotional web site that is, most importantly, informative and useful," said OnlineBuildings.com principal Peter Friebe. Pointing to the site the company recently developed for 780 Third Avenue, he said "Features at this particular site include more than the typical brochure. The database-driven technology used in our web sites allows for the most timely information - something one normally spends most of the day trying to retrieve."

At the site, www.780third.com, prospective tenants may view various photographs of the building's exterior and interior, a printable brochure with contact information for the leasing agent, floor plans, and the schedule offering space availability, which can be updated immediately by the client with point and click ease. From this point, interest in any given space can lead to a preliminary space build out through the design services provided by Mentroy Andersen or the architect of record - a capability that, in turn, facilitates the broker's ability to lease the space more easily and quickly.

While at first it may seem odd that an architectural firm - traditionally involved only in the design and construction of a project - would so aggressively embrace technology, both Montroy and Friebe believe that it's not only the wave of the future, but the future is now.

"We're not just a web company. We bring years of experience in real estate and architectural design and combine that with the technology expertise of Weidlinger to provide clients - owners, developers, facility managers, brokers and end users - with value, convenience and soup to nuts support," said Montroy.

While the commercial real estate industry have may in fact been one of the last U.S. industries to embrace technology, there's no question that it's picking up steam - and quickly.

"The initial response to OnlineBuildings.corn and the services it offers has been overwhelming," said Friebe. "The industry understands the importance and significance of this technological opportunity. Now it's just a matter of jumping on board before its too late."
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Sep 15, 1999
Words:775
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