Good Design is a Good Investment

I am always about beauty…. but in the world of commercial architecture the term “beauty” mistakenly doesn’t hold  much veracity.  Now “profitability”…now there’s a word in commercial building that is like music to a client’s ears!  Much to my chagrin, the saying “the most beautiful building is a fully leased one” echoes truthfully on many levels.  In the end, any commercial building that we design as architects,  has to improve the bottom line.  But what most commercial builders don’t understand is that high design, beauty and emotionally-charged built environments can most certainly embolden that bottom line.  Sometimes opportunities even demand it and reward the investor handsomely, immediately, and with long term benefits.

To further illustrate, let’s look at 2 of my own clients and also the owner of the 678 restaurants Brad Finefrock - 3 commercial investors who heavily invested in good design and have since reaped the rewards - even in this economic climate.

The City of Camarillo, CA was changing fast and both property owners, Tom Carr and Dave Wallace knew it.  They both had properties that hadn’t been touched in over 50 years.  Carr wanted a contemporary Frank Lloyd Wright building and Wallace was looking towards Spanish/Mission style - both of them were willing to do it right and not on the cheap.

Both achieved their ends with great success.

Carr Before and AfterMr. Carr was able to pre-lease his building before any construction commenced.  His project was so enticing that most of the tenants moved into the “before” building and suffered through the construction to have a space.  The building’s lease rates are now twice what they were previously and has tremendously increased it’s long term value.
Wallace Before and After

Mr. Wallace pre-leased his spaces before construction finished - based, again, solely on the design of the facade.  He tripled the lease rates and says he now has class “A” tenants and no competition up and down the boulevard for his type of building.

These immediate returns are quite something given the current climate of this market; where a “for lease” sign graces nearly every block of commercial real estate.

In the case of Mr. Brad Finefrock, general partner of the 678 restaurants, the demand was so high he knew he couldn’t lose.

Tired of driving to Malibu, Hollywood or Santa Barbara for a great place to eat he decided to bring it himself.  He and his partner Jerry Rubacky, built P6 in Westlake Village and awoke an entire youthful community with nightlife, fine food and atmosphere that was previously non-existent.  P6 is at once contemporary, but retro - with “Barbarella” playing on the flatscreens in the lounge amidst veneers of ebony wood, zen bamboo, and riverrock (read: James Bond, but now-ish).

Chapter 8 Bar

It was an immediate success and fueled the building out of Chapter 8 (a more formal steak house) and then Suki 7 (a sushi bar with a hot kitchen that serves both formal and everyday dining).

In addition to the fine food and service, the design of his restaurants is an enormous generator of revenue -”without a doubt” he says “people come to the restaurants at first just to look around”. Mr. Finefrock recognized a need for design, a thirst for ambiance that was desolate in the area.  Finefrock filled that need.

Beauty Matters. Aesthetically and financially. All 3 examples prove that even the bottom line, in commercial property investing, can be highly influenced by design.  If one can read the right opportunities and demographics, heavily investing in the atmosphere of the built environment can pay back in large dividends in the short term as well as the long.

3 Responses to “Good Design is a Good Investment”

  1. Kelly Brown says:

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