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Renovation: the process is as important as the goal.

Renovation: the word implies change. It need not mean inconvenience, however, and that is where a well-strategized improvement plan comes into play.

Currently, Atco is involved in a facade restoration that, when all is said and done, will have inconvenienced tenants for no more than one day. An essential consideration, since attracting new tenants with a beautiful new facade is somewhat counterproductive if you've alienated existing tenants in the process.

The project I refer to is now underway at our headquarters - 555 Fifth Avenue - and involves turning a 20-story white brick office building into what we hope will be one of the most elegant commercial towers on Fifth Avenue. No small task. But thanks to modern technology we are having the entire custom-designed curtain wall (new windows included) pre-built at a warehouse. We will then have it hung, panel by panel, over the existing exterior. We call the process "giving the building a new skin." And, as I mentioned, the effort to attach that new skin will be almost disturbance free for our tenants. The only disturbance will be during the time it takes to remove the old windows and make connections to the new facade.

Another thing to consider during the renovation process is the bridge which must be built. City codes require that a protective bridge be erected for safety purposes but, as far as I know, there's no law against making them attractive. On the contrary, during this particular process, Atco has opted to cover the bridge walls with specially commissioned artwork. Sure, both tenants and the local business community will be slightly put out by the presence of a construction bridge, but at least they'll have something nice to look at. The extra effort is bound to be appreciated.

When it comes to interior renovations, a sharp strategy for modernization is also important. And not only after the lease has been signed, but far in advance. Pre-designed office spaces that are thoroughly planned, yet sufficiently flexible, can offer move-in readiness to a prospective tenant. Again, minimal inconvenience is the key. With market competition as stiff as it is, owners and managers should keep this in mind. A well designed, state-of-the-art office space, replete with model units for viewing, can help attract a host of executive type business - lawyers accountants, general business, whatever.

Depending upon specific needs or tastes, the tenant may require a few more electrical outlets, or some other minor change in detail, but the major design components can usually be anticipated. All it takes is foresight, a knowledge of the general needs of the marketplace (as well as your building), and a competent architect/engineer - all of which Atco does in-house.

So, when your dealing with renovations - inside or out - be sure to set a targeted goal and anticipate needs as well as time schedules. Tenants will respond - both the ones you're seeking and the ones you've already got.
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Title Annotation:Annual Review & Forecast, Section II; renovation of commercial buildings need not alienate existing tenants
Author:DiCapua, Peter L.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Column
Date:Jan 26, 1994
Words:485
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