Monday, February 05, 2007

Our Search For A New Location

In January of 2006, Landfair Furniture + Design Gallery celebrated its fourth year in business. We had sublet 2,000 square feet plus some warehouse space from Macadam Carpet in Sept, 2001. A prime location on Macadam Avenue, between downtown and Lake Oswego, near South Waterfront, next to Starbucks and Martin Scott Fine Furniture all with plenty of parking. We began to think we should expand. We had no impetus to start looking for alternatives and really, in the back of our mind, thought Macadam might make another 1,000 square feet available to us that would be carved out of their space. Then Brett, owner of Macadam Carpets called me in and said, "Bev, we are running out of space and we might like to have your space. No hurry, but you might start looking."

We had initially signed a three year lease, but it lately had been year to year, with each business requiring notice of impending change by the other. Then Martin Scott went out of business so we took a look at their space and liked what we saw, but they required a minimum 8,000 sq. ft. in front and someone was looking at it anyway and that left 4,000 sq. ft. in the back. The back part had very little display windows, very little parking and a terrible delivery situation. We hired Jack H. Gallagher, III and J.J. Unger of commercial real estate broker, Norris, Beggs & Simpson and began our search.

One of the first places we looked at was a building just south of us that was formerly occupied by Healthy Legs. The rent was reasonable, we wouldn't need much in Tenant Improvements (TI) and we could even buy the building. It was fully occupied and the space available was 4,500 sq ft. However, the more we looked at the more we realized that designers could park there, but would have to exit the parking lot by backing out onto busy Macadam, and there was no way to receive deliveries except by parking the truck on Macadam and block one whole lane. Rejected!

We had a budget in mind for rent. We didn't want to pay more than $5,000 a month or $15 a sq ft. That eliminated many locations. We looked at the Willamette Week building, just off 23rd, it had parking, the right rent, the right space, the right windows, but inadequate delivery. We looked at a building on Sandy and SE 8th. It had the right space, adequate parking, great windows and great price. We could even team up with friends at Art*Home Company who were looking to downsize. The one problem: it was a welding supply company building, the TI could be open ended because of city requirements, earthquake protection and an owner unwilling to help with any of the improvements and they didn't want to sell.

We looked at a building at the end of NW 14th. We called it the Halloween building because it was painted orange. The rent was right, parking was iffy, windows were great, it was near Kravet and Goldsmith's and it was for sale or lease. The big problem was the owners wanted to lease the whole thing and the building was 6,400 square feet, that meant $10,000 a month. Art*Home Company could take 1,400 sq ft, but that would mean their rent would double and we would still have a second story to rent out.

Initially we wanted to remain on Macadam, but we would consider the eastside near CFM or the Pearl because of accessibility. We even considered for a moment a location on Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy. that used to be a interior designer's furniture store. In the beginning of our search, we heard about the Pearl Design Center which represents an extension of the Pearl District to I-405 and to Naito Parkway.

The Pearl Design's initial phase offered up to 9,000 sq ft with a minimum of 3,000 sq ft. The whole block was taken up by a welding supply company and going to be restyled to accomodate retail and the design community. The more we talked with our clients the more we heard, "I'm in the Pearl area almost every day." Or we heard how out of the way our Macadam location was or we heard how easy it was to get to the Pearl from almost anywhere, because of the freeways. That cinched it! We asked Jack and J.J to begin lease negotiantions with Tami Wood and Mark Madden at WDC Properties.

Tomorrow Lease negotiations and decorating.

Bev & Mike
Landfair Furniture + Design Gallery

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