Marketing “Dead” Building Space by Gary Zaremba
You need more money. The rent roll doesn’t cut it and the banks won’t return your phone calls. Before the ulcers set in, there might be some ways to squeeze more juice from the lemon.
Billboards: Let’s start at the top. If your building is near a major thoroughfare, you roof is a source of valuable income for very low maintenance. By placing a sign atop your structure, you can generate a monthly rental without doing a thing. A sign company changes the advertising which you can market yourself or sub out to an agency.
Down at street level you might be able to place more signage that advertises local businesses. These signs are much smaller in nature and usually would be placed for longer periods of time.
With both these ideas, you must consult local zoning codes to make sure you can place these signs.
Storage Lockers: Take a good look around your basement and the lightbulb might go off in your head signaling dollar signs. By turning dead rooms into paid storage space you can again invent money from nothing. For instance, placing private storage lockers in newly painted, well lit rooms will let your tenants keep more things without renting at outside facilities. Not only will this generate immediate income, it will also add another amenity to your building.
Laundry Rooms: Everyone in your building at some time will be down in the laundry room. This audience is captive and bored with time to kill. You can exploit this by setting up a locked display board and charging local merchants for putting in their ads. Tenants with items to sell or meetings to announce can also use this vehicle to reach their neighbors.
Roof Decks: Outside space! That’s all your hear from landlocked New Yorkers. If you can turn your roof into a patio area, a whole new area of revenue will open up. You can either subdivide the space and rent it out individually or make it a common area and adjust the rents accordingly. Here again, you’ve not only created more income, but you’ve added an amenity which will make your building more attractive to potential tenants.
Air Rights: Look up. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s money raining down into your lap. The space above your building might not mean anything to you, but to a developer, it may mean big bucks. Here, it’s a good idea to consult your attorney to find out exactly what air rights you do have and what is the best way to sell or lease them.
Back Office Space: Sometimes all a business needs is space for a desk and a phone. A small storage closet or some dead space in a larger room could be converted into a commercial area for a small businessperson. As with some other ideas, this will have some upstart charges, but they will quickly recouped through you new rental income.
Yard Space: The back alleys or rear yards are sitting idle just waiting for the right idea to spring them to life. Many businesses need storage areas for machinery and equipment they don’t use everyday. If you have access which will not interfere with your other tenants and the hours that these areas are in use are limited, then you might have a workable solution.
Lobbies: Since essentially everyone who enters your building comes through the lobby, a display board similar to the one in your laundry room will generate income without costing you anything. It can be bright and cheerful and blend into your existing decor.
Consult Your Professionals: Your team of dedicated advisers will help you discover which ideas work for you. Your Engineer and Architect will help find out what is technically feasible, while your Attorney can help explain which ideas are legal for your building. Your Building Manager can help market and sell these new spaces to tenants.
In these slim times, it takes new thinking to just stay in place. Anything which can make you money without causing you headaches is worth a closer look.
COPYRIGHT 2010 Gary Zaremba
See a related post, Landlord Quick Tip.
Gary Zaremba, owner of PepZee Realty, is a 20-year property manager veteran, develops affordable housing in New York and Ohio, is a construction specialist and frequent lecturer, and owns Artisan Restoration Group, providing building restoration services in New York City. American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.