Smart Building Technology—The Next Differentiator

Historically, business owners have placed a premium on location, demographics, and accessibility when it came to site selection. While these factors will always play an important role in leasing a space—as they should—new trends are emerging that focus on “smart building” technology.

Simply put, smart buildings make use of current technology and automation in order to improve its management and functionality. By introducing some of the more popular tech features, building owners and commercial real estate professionals find that properties can increase in value, have happier tenants, and save on operating costs in the long run.

According to Emerging Trends in Real Estate, “technology will significantly change the office leasing, operating, and structural environment going forward.” Buildings are evolving to incorporate more technological advances. But supporting additional devices means equipping the space with high-speed connections and specific network capabilities.

Many of these features are not new to the marketplace. In fact, some of the technology has been used for decades to cut down on growing energy consumption. What is changing is the rising importance placed on these features when seeking a potential space.

Here’s a look at some of the more popular smart building tools that are utilized in commercial buildings and how they can potentially enhance a property:

Lighting Controls & Sensors

As stated above, lighting sensor technology is not new to commercial real estate. Several companies have put smart lighting features in place that have drastically decreased energy consumption—along with their energy bills—making the office more comfortable and efficient for occupants.

As sensor technology becomes more advanced, businesses are adopting tools that can monitor and record data about the use of a building’s various rooms. The information gathered updates owners of the occupants’ habits, like how often a conference room is reserved versus how often it’s actually used.

Rather than relying solely on manual observations, this type of sensor solution delivers accurate data so it’s easy to see exactly how available space is being utilized. This has allowed businesses to make calculated decisions when repurposing underused square footage in their facility.

Enhanced Security Features

Building security has progressed past the point of a few locks on the front door. Thanks to recent technology, biometric security is at the forefront of people’s minds.

Mobile devices have made great strides in this type of security by introducing features such as fingerprint scanners and facial recognition, and other industries are following suit. Similar technology is now making buildings more advanced by adding additional credentials for entering. Other companies are doing away with traditional keys or fobs and allowing employees to unlock doors with their mobile devices.

There are already plenty of options when it comes to live video footage and remotely controlling locks and security measures from mobile phones and apps—and they are continuing to grow in popularity.

Of course, many of these newer security features are still being ironed out when it comes to effectiveness. But it’s expected that as technology continues to improve, more and more business owners will opt in for additional security measures.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Cooling (HVAC) Features

Many buildings are now using powerful software to automatically control building thermostats, water heaters, sprinkler systems, and even monitor for water leaks. New optimized HVAC systems can calculate the best way to heat or cool a space based on the time of day and other factors. These tools are helping businesses save money, water, and become more environmentally conscious.

With HVAC systems connected to a network, it’s possible to automatically heat and cool rooms based on individual needs. If a room is not being used for long periods of time, the cooling could automatically shut off—thus saving the energy it would take to cool an empty room.

Smart Cities Dive, an online publication specializing in technology savvy cities, reported, “buildings consume about 30% of the world’s energy.” Having software that can track variables in the environment is crucial to using the space most effectively.

Advanced Audio/Visual Systems

Offices have different needs when it comes to the integration of audio/visual technology. Most modern spaces are adding network-connected systems that allow users to stream music and video throughout the office via their mobile devices. These systems allow tenants to take presentations and necessary multimedia documents anywhere in the office and instantly connect to any conference room screen, iPad, or other viewing devices.

But functionality isn’t the only issue. Modern offices are looking for ways to integrate the technology seamlessly without disrupting the aesthetics of the space. This means hiding systems completely from view and paying close attention to how people will interact with the design.

Finally, it’s important to remember that technology is changing daily. So having systems that are adaptable is a must. Many of the tools mentioned above may require additional features to make them work correctly—like high-speed fiber connections.

Knowing the possibilities of your future office space will help you make decisions when it comes to the integration of smart building technology and understanding what will work best for you.

What other smart building features do you think are important? Is there a new technology that you’d like to see introduced to your office building? Let us know in the comments!

 If you have questions about office space that incorporates smart building features, be sure to contact Crunkleton office broker Eric St. John at eric@crunkletonassociates.com.

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haley_squareHALEY CLEMONS
MARKETING COORDINATOR
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM

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Finding The Perfect Restaurant Space—What To Discuss With Your Broker

In today’s world of retail commercial real estate, few things get more buzz than a new and exciting restaurant concept. When we ask what people would like to see in a particular property or development, the vast majority of requests and comments are for restaurants. So this got us thinking, what do restaurateurs need to look for and consider when deciding on the best property to lease or purchase for their new concept?

At Crunkleton, we’ve helped a number of clients reach their goals of opening a successful restaurant. Here are a few things your broker needs to discuss with you before beginning the search for the perfect piece of property:

Concept & Clientele

The first thing we need to examine is your concept, who your customers are, and when they will be coming to visit. Is your concept open for all three meals of the day or just dinner? What will your busiest time of day be? Knowing your projected peak hours will help you determine if you need to be situated near a large daytime/work population or an area with a more active evening population.

You may also need to consider how commuter traffic affects your desired location. Do you need to capture the crowd heading to work during the morning hours? Or will you get more business after work hours? Determining these factors first will narrow down the areas that need to be considered, making your search more efficient while eliminating areas that wouldn’t be suitable.

We also need to consider local zoning laws. If you serve alcohol, then we need to make sure we search in the correct zoning district and may need to be a certain distance from protected uses, such as schools and churches.

Size & Special Features

Next, let’s determine what size space you need and if you require any special features such as a drive-thru or outdoor patio. One of the biggest factors in the success of a restaurant will be occupancy costs. Essentially, this is how much it costs you to occupy the space in relation to your sales volume. A space too large will drive up your occupancy costs by leaving you to pay rent on empty tables that aren’t producing sales. A space too small may limit the number of customers you can serve, therefore driving up occupancy costs by not producing enough sales to cover your expenses. Finding the appropriate size space is critical to long-term success.

These added features (like the patio or drive-thru) may be beneficial to your business and drive more customer traffic. Properties with these features generally cost more to lease or purchase, but the increased costs may be worth it in the long run.

Parking & Accessibility

Another important factor to consider is parking and accessibility. Like we mentioned previously, these factors will largely be determined by your concept. A lunch-focused restaurant may need to be more concerned with parking and convenience than a sit-down dinner concept. If your patrons will be pressed for time, having an abundance of parking close to the front door may be important.

Are you a quick-serve breakfast concept? Then you may want to be located on the “going-to-work” side of the road so customers can easily swing in and out during their morning commute and don’t have to waste time crossing traffic or waiting on a light to change.

Condition

Lastly, let’s talk about the condition of the space we need to be looking for during our search. Can you handle the initial build-out of the restaurant or do we need to find a space that has previously been a restaurant? Restaurant spaces have requirements that may not be in place in some of the properties we find, such as grease traps, vent hoods, adequate HVAC, etc.

Finding spaces that already have these features installed can certainly save time and money when it comes to build-out and getting open, but may be difficult to find and costlier to lease or purchase. Part of a broker’s job is knowing the market well enough to expedite your search and introduce you to spaces that fit your needs when it come to these necessities.

Obviously saving that time and money on build-out would be nice, but don’t let your decision on the final location be driven by the fact that the space is a second-generation restaurant space. We’ve put this last on the list because we believe from our experience that the other factors are more important to the long-term success of a restaurant than saving some money during the build-out.

Are you searching for the perfect restaurant space? Be sure to check out our full list of available restaurant spaces here.

And give us a call at 256-536-8809, or email us at info@crunkletonassociates.com. Our retail brokers would be happy to help you with your search and answer any questions you have.

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Zac Buckley
VP of Leasing
Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate Group
ZAC@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM

 

Originally from Tennessee, Zac studied business management at Samford University. After moving to Huntsville in 2001, Zac started out his career in banking, wealth management, and financial planning. In 2010 he joined Crunkleton and has since become the VP of Leasing for the commercial real estate group where he focuses on retail leasing and development.

5 Things To Consider When Purchasing Commercial Land

So you have an idea for the perfect development. All of your plans are in place and you’re ready to get the ball rolling. It’s time to find the piece of land that will make your dream a reality. But where do you start? In the world of zoning, environmental issues, construction concerns, and laws about land use, buying and selling land can seem like a daunting task.

When you consider all of the intricate details that go into a final deal, proper due diligence can make or break success. Without thorough investigation and research, you may or may not end up with the property you need—leaving you with a piece of land that you can’t utilize in the way you intended.

Luckily, having a professional broker on your side can make the process much smoother and help you maximize your returns. But, as a buyer, you can certainly do your part to make sure you enjoy the best possible outcome.

Here are five things to consider when purchasing commercial land:

Zoning

First and foremost, you should know the zoning of the land you intend to buy. Zoning laws—also called land use regulations or zoning ordinances—determine the ways in which a particular area of land can be used.

For instance, you may have plans to build a mixed-use development on your plot of land but it’s zoned for residential use. In this case, you’d likely want to negotiate the purchase contract contingent on the re-zoning of the property or obtaining a variance. Both of these can be time-consuming and require additional professional fees, making you want to pass on this particular piece of land.

Zoning affects nearly everything when it comes to your future business plans. It can control noise levels, business signage, parking regulations, waste management and much more. So be sure to examine all zoning laws before you ever sign a lease.

And remember, some land can be zoned for multiple uses. Your broker will be able to check the boxes for you when it comes to identifying zoning that fits your bottom line.

Utilities

Never assume that certain utilities will be available at your property—always ask ahead of time. If you are developing on the land, this is an important step to cover because hidden costs will creep in.

If the City doesn’t offer the types of services you need, will you be able to acquire them? Is there access to a septic system? Water? Electricity? Gas? Telephone? Depending on your intended use, you will need to secure the proper utilities to carry out your business.

Bottom line: Ask if certain utilities extend to your site before buying.

Deed Restrictions

You’ve been searching and you believe you’ve found the tract of land you want to use for development. It’s zoned properly, utilities are available, and it’s easily accessible. However, there may be another blocker preventing you from developing the property—deed restrictions.

Deed restrictions are created to determine how successive title owners can use the land. For instance, there may be a restriction on the land that forbids commercial development even though it’s properly zoned for such a use.

Restrictions can cover everything from the future use of the property to building height, characteristics of buildings, maintenance of the property, and other responsibilities related to the land. Typically, deed restrictions apply to all future title owners.

These restrictions supersede zoning ordinances. So even if you find land that fits your use, a restriction could still prevent you from carrying out your planned development.

Access

Making sure the land fits future accessibility needs is a must. Is there room to add parking and space for proper ingress and egress? Is the location convenient to your future clientele? What is the nearby competition like? Is it easy to get to major highways and shipping routes? Having a clear-cut plan for your land will help you determine which questions you should ask.

When settling on a property, remember location, location, location!

(Tip: Access also includes the ease at which construction equipment can enter and exit the site during the development phase.)

Topography & Design

Last, but not least, you will need to review the topography and design of the land you want to buy. Here are some of the issues you need to be concerned with:

  • Environmental (soil quality, underground pipes, underground storage tanks, etc.)
  • Slope of the land
  • Floodplains, easements
  • Nearby streams/water sources
  • Wetlands
  • Shaded or sunny areas

In the end, all of these concerns can be addressed so you find land that will yield the highest returns and ensure future success.

At Crunkleton, we guide clients through each phase of a land deal so you get the best value. We’d love to help you with purchasing or selling your land investment. You can access the full portfolio of our land listings here.

Have questions about purchasing or selling land? Contact us at info@crunkletonassociates.com or give us a call at 256-536-8809.

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haley_squareHALEY CLEMONS
MARKETING COORDINATOR
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM

Construction Update: 117 Clinton Avenue!

Downtown Huntsville is evolving day-by-day, and we are always excited to share some of the progress that’s happening behind closed doors.

In February, we announced that the historic 117 Clinton Avenue building would undergo a major renovation and transform into Clinton Row’s next retail or dining experience. Construction crews have been hard at work, and the property has already taken on a new look inside.

Several walls have been removed, opening up the space and setting the stage for a truly unique shop or restaurant. A new rustic vibe has been introduced with the exposure of brick walls. And any built-in shelves, desks, and other décor from the property’s days as an office are gone.

Of course, this is just the beginning of the transformation! There’s a lot of construction still on the way. Here are some before and after images of the project so far.

BEFORE.

AFTER.

BEFORE.

AFTER.

117 Clinton will be a unique, urban atmosphere for its next tenant and be situated near many of Downtown’s major hot spots like The Garage at Clinton Row, the Clinton Row Shops, The Avenue retail shops, and the recently announced 106 Jefferson: A Curio Collection by Hilton boutique hotel.

If you’re interested in leasing this incredible space, contact us by email at info@crunkletonassociates.com or call us at 256-536-8809. Find the listing for this property here.

Be sure to stay tuned to our blog as we share more updates on 117 Clinton!

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Make sure you’re staying on top of the latest trends, newest developments and hottest new stores in Huntsville by subscribing to our weekly blog updates!

haley_squareHALEY CLEMONS
MARKETING COORDINATOR
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM