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Center Feature: Community Partners Center for Health and Human Services

November 23, 2014 by Lara Jakubowski0

Jennifer Pedroni from The Community Partners Center for Health & Human Services has shared some wonderful details with us about her space in Pennsylvania.

Center Name: Community Partners for Health and Human Services
Location: 2506 N. Broad St. Colmar, PA 18915
Years in Space: Seven years in January, 2015
Square Footage: 24,000
First Floor Rooms (available to tenants and community nonprofits)
– Walton Room:  a state of the art AV system, food serving area and flexible room set up that can accommodate up to 96 people theater style.
– Conference Room: Seating for up to 8 people; a Polycom for conference calling; a food serving area; white board/projection screen.  A portable projector is available on loan if needed.
There is a kitchen on the first floor with a refrigerator, sink and microwave.
Second Floor Room (available only to tenants)
– Board Room: State of the art AV system with a 90” digital LCD screen and a table that seats 20 and additional side seating up to 26. With permission, there is access to the foundation’s full kitchen with a fridge, stove, microwave and two dishwashers.
Any additional details or information on rental of any of their available spaces can be found on their website.
Own/Rent: Own
Time from Idea to Open Doors: Nearly three years

As Pennsylvania’s first nonprofit center, the Community Partners Center for Health & Human Services (The Center) offers professional office and meeting space to nonprofit organizations serving Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  The facility is designed to encourage collaboration  to support the efforts of local nonprofits in providing the highest caliber programs and services.

What Was Your…

Biggest Challenge?

Tenant recruitment. All leases cover a five year period. We originally had identified a full complement of tenants in advance of opening but one tenant withdrew before the building was completed and it took us several years to find a new tenant for that space. Two of the initial tenants did not renew their leases.  Due to our financing structure, we are limited to leasing only to nonprofit organizations.  We tried to identify and work with a broker, but our experience has been that brokers do not work in the nonprofit market and nearly all require that they represent the owner and all leases for the entire building.  This would have placed a significant financial burden on operations and the board felt this was unwarranted.  We have been marketing and spreading the word through our existing networks and we are currently exploring different ways of marketing the space.

Best Advice?

  • Try to incorporate green building technologies that are cost-effective (e.g. a ROI of five years or less was our standard).   
  • Appoint and empower a small group of owner representatives to make all the decisions that arise during construction and agree that once a decision is made that it stands without second guessing.  This sounds simple, but it was amazingly helpful to maintain the construction schedule and to provide an incentive for the small group members to attend as many of the meetings as possible.
  • Invest in a computer maintenance management system at the beginning.  We identified all of the pieces of equipment, preventative maintenance needs, vendors etc. and created the database at the outset.  This allows us to manage the building in a streamlined and seamless way. In addition, developing a long term maintenance plan and capital replacement plan at the outset will help to anticipate and budget for needed maintenance. 
  • Finally, be flexible and adapt and adjust as you implement ideas, continuously developing relationships with tenants and asking for their input and feedback. 

Favorite Part of the Space?

My office – I have a great space! But really, the first floor Walton Meeting Room. It was designed with lots of light and flexible furniture that allows meeting room users to set it up to meet their needs.  We have over 9,500 people use our meeting rooms each year and everyone comments on the meeting room and how the light and space create a great opportunity for having meetings that foster collaboration.

Project Cost?

The overall cost of the land, land improvements, and building was about $6,250,000 with an additional $900,000 in leasehold improvements and $150,000 + in furnishing and equipment.

Proudest Outcome?

The value the nonprofit community has realized through the use of the meeting rooms. Since the building opened in 2008 more than 40,500 people have attended 2,670 meetings.  The foundation and board of managers believe that offering the meeting facilities without cost has saved our local nonprofit organizations approximately $1,000,000.

Biggest Surprise?

How hard it is to cultivate collaboration within the building.  Our original vision was a place that “encourages collaboration, exploration and the development of synergies – both among the nonprofit organizations housed here and those that use our meeting space”.  There have been many examples of collaboration developed through the use of our meeting space, but there has not been as much collaboration among the tenants as we had initially envisioned.

Resources to Share:

We have benefited from the connections through Nonprofit Centers Network and the connections and resources they provide.  Having other nonprofit center staff to learn from and share ideas has been very beneficial.  The meeting room management software that was developed by NEW organization has worked very well for us at a relatively modest cost.  In addition, the computer maintenance management software program that we use called MPULSE has provided a systematic way for us to manage maintenance at a relatively low cost.

Community Member Quote:

“How did you get such a nice place for us?”

— Client of Tenant


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About Our Blogger:

Lara Jakubowski

Lara is the Executive Director at the Nonprofit Centers Network and has worked with nonprofits and their real estate projects for 18 years. Most recently she was the principal in LWJ Consulting LLC, a consulting practice that focused on shared space, shared services, business planning, facility planning and fundraising. Since 2006 she has worked with over forty Metro Denver nonprofits to evaluate and grow their impact in the community.

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