Construction insights: Converting vacant commercial spaces
Sep 7, 2017 10:31 AM - When it comes to finding the right location for a new business concept or growing brand, choosing between building new or converting an existing space is an important decision. In high-density markets like Chicago's suburbs, repurposing a vacant commercial property can be a great way to secure a top location while simultaneously reducing construction costs. But there are important construction considerations to keep in mind when vetting space. Understand your infrastructure needs: Knowing what it will take to make a space function for a particular purpose is key in choosing an existing commercial property -- especially when converting one to an entirely new purpose. A few years ago, the landlord of a downtown high rise asked us to provide a magnitude budget -- or ballpark estimate -- to convert a vacant first-floor retail space into a restaurant. Once we budgeted the necessary infrastructure to accommodate a restaurant kitchen, which has much different power, cooling and exhaust needs than a retail store, the landlord ultimately decided it was not realistic to convert the space. While not all conversions will come up against similar budget constraints, this is an example of how a construction firm can double as a consultant by anticipating infrastructure needs, and associated costs, to determine a project's feasibility.