Build to Suit Office Space

by CoyDavidson on July 21, 2010


Why Consider a Build to Suit Office Lease?

In order for a business to satisfy its office space requirements they have basically four options:

  1. Lease or sublease vacant office space;
  2. Acquire an existing building and renovate;
  3. Build and own your own facility; or
  4. A build to suit to lease.

The Build to Suit Lease

A build to suit lease is an alternative that allows the user/tenant to design and customize a new facility to meet the enterprise’s unique space needs without the large up-front capital expenditure that comes with building and owning. In a build to suit to lease arrangement, a company selects a real estate developer to design and build a customized facility on a preferred site and then leases it from the developer. Under this structure, the user never owns the facility.

A build to suit lease can offer several advantages to the company whose current space no longer ideally meets their objectives. It allows the tenant to expand the realm of optimal location choices and maximum space efficiency, since the facility is designed specifically for the tenant. New construction allows a developer to incorporate the most recent cost-effective energy systems in the project, incorporate state of the art technology and construction materials with the goal of operating efficiency. The building can be designed to project the company’s image, attract and retain employees as well as enhance productivity and logistics. These key objectives can sometimes be challenging in varying degrees, when leasing or renovating an existing facility. office space

Long Term Lease Solution

A build to suit lease is not a short-term office space solution. A long-term office lease commitment is necessary for the developer / owner to acquire financing and the tenant’s creditworthiness must be acceptable to lenders to obtain favorable financing terms. The build-to-suit process is lengthy and may take several years to complete. Once the build-to-suit decision is made and a developer/owner is selected; a transaction has to be finalized which is inherently more complicated since there is a lease and complex construction component beyond your typical office build-out. In addition, the preferred land site has to be acquired and the building has to be designed and built.

Evaluating All Your Options

A build to suit lease are generally considered more expensive than leasing existing office space, particularly in today’s market where office vacancy rates have risen and building owners are aggressively courting office tenants with attractive lease terms and concessions. However, the difference may be offset in the long-term by savings in office space efficiency, reduced operating costs and improved company image.

When considering new construction, in some instances particularly for very large corporations, the user may have better borrowing power or a lower cost of capital than the developer. So it would seem owning the building your office would be more cost effective. However, for most companies real estate is not their core business and they choose to allocate their investment capital to other strategic operating initiatives that offer a higher rate of return on their investment.

For every company each of the four office space occupancy strategies has its own merits and disadvantages. A prudent business owner or management team will evaluate each option with their real estate advisors to determine which alternative best suits their needs. In some cases some of these options may not be a realistic or viable strategy. However, for the company desiring an office building designed specifically for their unique needs, the build to suit offers a new, customized facility without the significant capital expenditure of building and owning your office space.

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Benjamin Bach July 22, 2010 at 5:27 am

Thx Coy, this is a good summary of the choices facing the user.

How is the Build to Suit market near you these days?

CoyDavidson July 22, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Benjamin, Not much build-to-suit activity recently. It’s a tenant’s market and lease options are attractive in existing buildings combined with not much corporate real estate activity as a result of the economy.

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