Thanks to the burgeoning economy, Chicago’s commercial rental market is finally in an upswing. But in an arena that’s flooded with for-rent properties, how do you attract prospective tenants and keep them? One interesting strategy that landlords have opted for are simply referred to as “spec suites.” Ranging from 2,500 to 10,000 square feet— these spaces are designed to help prospective tenants more completely visualize their new office space.

Speculative, or ‘spec’ suites as they more chicly referred to, is an ingenious way for landlords to display their commercial spaces in a way that’s not entirely raw, nor is it fully designed that a prospective client can’t renovate and personalize the rooms. According to Matt Kelly, Associate Principal, Earles Architects and Associates and the author of this article, “As some tenants have difficulty looking at a floor plan or office shell and picturing the transformation into finished space, these spaces can help make that connection.”

For spec suites to succeed, visual definition to the space is key. And landlords have found several ways to work around this strategy to make rental property more attractive. One can choose from doing a partial to a full build out of the space. OR experiment with traditional to highly contemporary designs.

Mr. Kelly offers us two examples:

A) A partial build out is less expensive as it involves, “Framing out a few elements, such as the public areas of the suite—perhaps the reception area and conference room(s)— and adding lighting and other finishes to part of the space.”

B) A full build out, which is more expensive, involves taking the spec suites from raw, or outdated, square footage to finished space. This would include building/designing private offices, several groupings of workstations, conference rooms, to name a few.

When presented with a platter of workspace options and varying design styles, tenants have many choices for how they want their office areas to layout. They may select one style, or mix and match from components seen in different suites.

Apparently, according to Mr. Kelly, these speculative suites have become an increasingly popular trend during the past 18 months. Landlords are bending over backwards to increase occupancy percentages, reposition their buildings, and provide a positive tenant experience. Let’s hope our economy continues to be on the upswing so that tenants can maintain and, more importantly, keep their new digs.  (image via Shutterstock)

Source: Matt Kelly | Spec Suites: The Future of Commercial Rental Property | September 22, 2014 |

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