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The Entrepreneur’s Corner

Finding the right office space for your business
Moving your business stinks. It’s difficult, it’s expensive, and every step of the process takes a lot of time. But sometimes, and more often than not, the right space can make the business in the same way the right handshake can win the job.

There are so many options for business of all sizes. Even though Metro Richmond is a relatively small commercial market, there’s still every type of space imaginable. Making the wrong decision can actually hurt your business, so it makes sense to tackle it head-on. Think Gandhi with a little sprinkle of Bobby Knight – patience and grit pay off. And you should start by asking a lot of questions:

• Find a leader – Who will lead this effort within your organization? It’s a daunting task indeed, and it deserves a dedicated decision-maker willing to work through the pitfalls.

• Determine your space needs – Is your existing space too large? Too small? Inefficient? Too far from your clients? Outdated? Overpriced? Find your motivation and take action.

• Assess your business environment – How would you describe your office environment? Are you a big fan of collaboration, frequent dialogue, and teaming? If so you might prefer an open work environment rather than private offices. Do you rely on walk-in traffic or have frequent visitors throughout the day? If so, focus on high visibility locations, ample parking and a large enough reception area.

• Warm up your calculator – What is your budget? Be realistic and be honest with yourself about the company’s budget. Use the web to research how much commercial space costs in your desired locations, and don’t be afraid to call around to different broker professionals for their input.

Once you’ve completed the first phase, it’s time to get yourself aligned with a broker who can represent you in the process. Alternatively, you can represent yourself through the next steps, which include touring properties, developing a short list of your top two or three spaces, gathering offers (commonly referred to as Letters of Intent), negotiating and signing a lease.

While a few businesses choose to go without broker representation, most prefer the advantages of having an experienced professional to help them through each step.

This is usually when the Bobby Knight-like personality comes out in people. Negotiations have complex layers and it helps to have an expert broker working on your behalf to take the emotional, chair-throwing tendencies out of the process. If you do decide to take on the task yourself, here are a few things to keep in mind:

• Size does matter – Negotiating power is directly proportionate to the size of your office in relation to the size of the building. A small tenant in a large office building won’t have too much leverage over the ownership. That same tenant in a smaller office building, however, could get a better deal.

• Turn “deal-breakers” into negotiable points – For example, the ownership’s lease calls for a 5 percent annual escalation and you know the market escalation is 3 percent (which it is, by the way). That escalation rate seems like a deal breaker to you, but it is likely a negotiable point for the owner. If ownership insists on 5 percent, find another way around it – maybe ask for an increase in the tenant improvement allowance, or a reduction in the first year rental rate.

• Don’t be afraid to walk away.

• Ask questions until you get answers.

• Get everything in writing and make sure you and the ownership sign the same lease document.

Suzanne White is an associate who specializes in corporate real estate services, including office and industrial sales and leasing, with Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer. Contact her at (804) 697-3478 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

Lakeside microbrewery beginning to take shape

Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space

A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.

Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.

Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.

Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.

“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.

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