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NCN Webinar I Back Office Alternatives: What You Need to Know About Shared Services

See NCN Shared Services Publications here.


Topics Below

Pricing for Back Office Services
Shared Services Costs
Mailboxes/Mail Delivery
Printing Charges
Best Printer/Printing Company

Pricing for Back Office Services

From an Ask-NCN Discussion


Katie Edwards, Nonprofit Centers Network, 2/3/15
Another member question came across my desk, and I want to make sure I have up-to-date information to share. Would you be willing to share your pricing schedule for back office services (mail service, phones, storage, IT support, etc)? Are these services included as a part of your rent, your CAM Charges, or are they a la carte?

Thanks so much!


Stephanie FallCreek, Fairhill Partners, 2/3/15
Mail service included in lease. All else a la carte for us though often negotiated during the lease negotiation phase.


Ardi Korver, Region V Services, 2/3/15
Reception, mail service, and copiers are provided. All tenants have a code for outgoing mail and copying service which is billed monthly.

Use of conference rooms, coffee, parking, cleaning, utilities is included in the rent.

Phones, IT support, fiscal and HR support, storage, is a la carte.


Mike Gilbert, The Jones Center, 2/3/15

We have lobby mailboxes for all of our community partners.
Each building has wireless internet throughout, dedicated internet is available through the local providers.
We do not offer telephone service.
Our IT tech is available on an “if available” status to partners at no cost.
We offer storage in our basement at no charge. Each partner has a 10 x 20 fenced storage cube.
Conference and training space is no cost, reserved by partners as needed. (we have many rooms and no issues with availability.)

We are fortunate to have large enough space for fundraising events. Partners get one per year if available and a second event after all partners have had one or declined.


Christina Crawley, OpenGov Hub 2/4/15
We try to keep most services in the base rent to keep things simple: – Coffee/tea/water, storage, secure access, HVAC and meeting room space is included in the per-desk base rent ($500-$625/desk per month – which is below the Washington DC market rate)

– We have a mandatory add-on ‘community fee’ per desk as well to go towards a sort of petty cash fund for unanticipated repairs and to simplify social event expenses ($5/desk per month)

Add-ons are for optional services:
– Printing is separate as some groups have their own small printers ($15/desk per month)
– IT is separate as many groups don’t need this kind of support ($15/desk per month)

Parking is separate and managed by an external company.

Hope that’s helpful!

Shared Services Costs

Ask-NCN 12.6.17


Kim Jones, Nonprofit Village
The Nonprofit Village has full service and virtual members in our shared space. As we plan for a relocation to a new site in 2018, we now plan to incorporate a few shared back office services such as bookkeeping, HR and IT. In the future we will consider communications/marketing/design, and other areas. What is your experience with back office operations? Do you contract with the vendor, asking for a reduced rate in exchange for a set amount of business? Do any shared spaces use back office operations to generate additional revenue or is the service charge pass through from the tenant to the vendor, through the shared space? Appreciate any best practices or alerts about challenges in offering shared services.


Lucinda Kerschensteiner, Center for Social Change
We happen to have a PT bookkeeper on staff for our sister company who we have offered out to members on a shared services basis. We have had a couple members express an interest in using her someday (so we have not earned $$ from it yet). We just charge the members for her hourly rate (what we pay her) + 10% (or so) which is an affordable rate. We also have a few members who provide professional services and in exchange for a discounted membership, they agree to provide probono services to our members (in a limited fashion). I’m curious what others offer, too.


Mailboxes/Mail Delivery

From an Ask-NCN Discussion


Nada Zohdy, OpenGov Hub, 2/4/16
We’ve been hand delivering mail to each person’s desk, but this has been very inefficient so we’re looking to install mailboxes and just wondering if anyone has taken any creative/interesting approaches beyond just traditional mailbox slots.
How do you handle mail in your center? Any creative approaches? Pictures welcome!


Dustin Barrington, HNS Life Center, 2/4/16
Not to be a Scrooge, but we chose not to be “creative” to avoid issues by making each organization responsible for their own mail.

We purchased a USPS approved, front loading ‘18box – 2 package’ horizontal mailbox cluster with a cabinet style enclosure through Salsbury Industries. Their URL is<>

We then registered each tenant suite separately with the local building department and US Post office.

We placed our cluster in a warm lobby for the convenience of our tenants but found later that the USPS delivery schedule did not always line up with our regular business and therefore deliveries were missed. We recently relocated it outside in the cold…

We wish that we had picked a cluster option that had slots in the doors to each box so that tenants could also use this to communicate with each other…

I hope that is a useful angle to consider.


Angela Baldrige, The Plantory, 2/5/16
We just use a big filing cabinet with folders for each of our members. It sits by the front desk. We put their mail in their folders and they check them at their convenience. We leave packages at their locations or put a note in their file folder if it needs to be picked up at the front desk.


Erin Prefontaine, Jerry Forbes Centre Foundation, 2/5/16
We’re in the operations planning stage for our new home and are leaning toward making each organization responsible for their own mail as well.

When we forecast the potential volume and issues of delivering it in-house, a good option looks like a mailbox cluster.

We will also be dealing with very cold winter weather, and possible delivery scheduling so will have to see what options are available via Canada Post.

I’d love to hear more on what other organizations with a distinct winter season and delivery scheduling conflicts are doing.


Cheryl, Artspace Inc., 2/5/16
We’re located in Winnipeg, and have pretty frigid winters as well.

We have a standard mailbox cluster located inside our building lobby for regular mail deliveries from Canada Post, which our members are responsible for. We also have an internal mailroom on the 4th floor in our shared-use copy centre (which includes copying, scanning, postage meter, etc.). Any packages/courier deliveries are received by our office admin staff and are placed in the mail room for our members to pick up. All our members have keys to the internal mail room so they can access their deliveries at any hour.


James Thomson, New Path Foundation, 2/5/16
At both of our shared space locations we have a back office behind our reception desk that houses the mail slots for each respective organization. As mail is delivered to our reception staff directly (one point of contact), they in turn place mail in the respective mail slot for each organization. The organization in turn is responsible for checking the mail slot on a frequent basis (they have a key to access this room). If packages are delivered (UPS, Purolator, etc.), our reception staff signs for the delivery and then directly notifies the organization that there is a pick up waiting; the package is placed in the back office on a counter awaiting pick up.


Ask-NCN Conversation 11.14.17


Elin Ross, Federated Charities
We have a co-work space within our larger multi-tenant space and I’m wondering how everyone handles the physical mailbox when you’re dealing with a co-work/shared space situation. Does all the mail come to a single box and you sort it for your co-work tenants? Something else?


Andy Neal, STAR Center
At The STAR Center, we invested in a larger multi box unit that attaches to the wall in the entryway. Each occupant has their own receptacle.


Ask-NCN 3/2/2017


Jenny Camhi, Leichtag Foundation
We are in the process of transitioning from a free space to a paid center. Up until now, we have offered unlimited free printing. We have now implemented a system to keep track of people’s printing and have told everyone that the first 500 prints are free, but after that we will bill. What do you all charge (if at all) for printing?


Bria Brown, Community Shares of Wisconsin
We have a couple of types of membership but for one:


  • Per copy cost – Black & White $0.06 each, Color $0.12 each.

And for the other:


  • Per copy cost – Black & White $0.08 each, Color $0.25 each.


For both, they have a printer code and we send an invoice monthly.


Lillian Gutierrez, The Alliance Voice of Community Nonprofits
We charge the following:
Copy/Print/Fax Costs:
0.05 Black and White per print/copy/fax cost (faxing out no cost)
0.10 Color print/copy/fax cost (faxing out no cost)


Kim McNamer, Consultant
Our copy prices were low. I can’t fully recall exactly what they were because the couple centers we had were priced slightly different, but I think they were no more than $0.5 for black and white and $0.10 color. They didn’t get any freebies, but we bought all the reams of white paper for the leased machines.


Nada Zohdy, OpenGov Hub
We literally just went through this process 🙂 We charge $15 per month per person for unlimited black and white copies/prints and 20 color copies/prints per person per month. Then any additional color pages are charged at 5 cents per page (which is the actual rate we pay).


Mike Gilbert, The Jones Trust
We pass through the cost of all copies. We are .03 for b/w and .07 color


Marc Kondrup, Midland Shared Spaces
We charge per click: $.05 for b/w, and $.13 for color. That covers the click cost + maintenance agreement charge + all paper for the two shared machines.


Diana Higuerra, Aurora Welcome Center
We charge:

Black and White: $0.009/copy
Color: $0.10
But it also depends on how much is the cost to you.

Best Printer/Printing Company

Ask-NCN 4/21/2017

Champagne Huges, The Flight Deck
We’re looking for printing company and looking for referrals. We’d like to have a printer that is suitable for our co-working space, handles bulk printing, and can code (for tracking prints for different companies).

If you can, can you let us know if you’re renting your printer? Did you buy it? If so, how much does it cost? Also, are you charging your co-workers per print or is it a part of their membership?
Details are highly requested but not required. 🙂

Diana Higuerra, Aurora Welcome Center
We went from a konica-minolta, which was good to a Kyocera that is working great for us. We decided to get our leasing from a local vendor that has great service and the response time on ink and others is 1 day.

We give our tenants a number of free copies black and white, depending on the square footage they occupy. For the extra copies they pay $0.009/copy. Color copies are $0.10/copy. Some of the leasing companies give you the first 10,000/month for free. We are currently paying for what we make.


From an Ask-NCN Discussion 9/21/16


Deeter Schurig, cSpace
We’re beginning our search into ATM’s as a possible revenue source and convenience for visitors to our arts hub. As our centre is several blocks from a commercial area, we thought providing the option for cash for visitor might warrant consideration as well as another revenue source to support our cost recovery operations.

My question is whether anyone has an any advice, concerns or recommended vendors when it comes to ATM in their multi tenant centre? Are there companies that are supportive of NPO missions and keep fees reasonable? Are there installation, security, or management concerns related to these units?


Annette Paiement, The Cotton Factory
We do use an ATM. We have had to carefully monitor as there has been a situation where the ATM wasn’t filled with money, it was giving an out of order message, however taking $2.00 from our clients bank accounts.

It is an amazing add to the building as there is not a bank or ATM anywhere within walking distance of our facility.


Jimmy Martin, Chicago Literacy Alliance

What’s the process for partnering with a company/bank to have one installed?


Annette Paiement

I just reached out directly to a private ATM company. They had two different agreements which I could choose from. We did not want to purchase a machine as it was not in our budget, so we choose an option where they paid us a percentage of each transaction. We also decided to keep this percentage minimal as we did not want to take advantage of our tenants. Having a service to provide them was of greater importance.

I have a questions for everyone, can you provide me with any feedback you have around facility security. Specifically, what is your procedure for after hour emergencies. Who do your coworkers call? Do you use an answering service? Do you pay an on call staff person to deal with after hour concerns.

Would love to hear from anyone who has feedback as we build our policies and procedures.


Jenny Camhi, Leichtag Foundation

My husband is the ATM business. If you have any questions about the revenue a machine can bring in or the best way to set up a machine, please don’t hesitate to call ATM Depot and ask for Jeremy Camhi. Please let him know you are a colleague of mine. They are based here in Encinitas, CA, but they service machines all over the US; (760) 512-4124


Online Resource Center

NCN Webinar I Transitions
NCN Webinar I Better Build Outs: Managing Tenant Improvement

From the webinar “Better Build Outs: Managing Tenant Improvements,” October 26, 2011.


Broker Perspective – Anthony Shell
Listing Representation – works on behalf of landlords, leasing and marketing space on their behalf
Why hire a listing broker?
You have someone who will market the space to the entire market and puts a professional face on the building.

Hire a broker: If the building is Large, lots of vacancy, absentee landlord, or repositioning and rebranding the space.


Building Team

Architect – important that they are willing to learn what can or cannot be done with the building. Smaller, one-person firms are usually very economical and very valuable

General Contractor – very important from the cost side of this, and can help to reduce the tenant improvement costs for what they do

Project Manager – helps with the move-in/move out process. Time saver



  • Creates lease document with landlord for use with all tenants
  • Negotiates lease terms with tenants, tenant’s attorney
  • Important from liability standpoint for landlord


Tenant representation – works on behalf of tenants, surveying market, available options, touring, negotiating, proposals, and leasing


Work done on specific suite for tenant
Usually completed by landlord for tenant as part of lease transaction
Landlord benefits from controlling who does construction in building on behalf of tenant
Tenant is occasionally permitted to do construction, however with authorization from landlord on who does work/what work is to be done“


SOFT COSTS: Any non-construction items related to build out of space
Architectural drawings (space plans, construction drawings)
Permitting costs“


Actual construction done in space
Includes items such as demo, framing, sheetrock, paint, carpet, etc.


“TURNKEY” TENANT IMPROVEMENTS: • Tenant improvement package done on behalf of tenant by landlord that includes everything related to work • Both hard & soft costs • Pros:Great selling point to prospective tenants, excellent if proposed tenant improvements are inexpensive for landlord • Cons:If landlord is not aware of total hard/soft costs, can leave landlord exposed • For smaller projects, turnkey is best solution


Landlord provides a dollar allowance per sf for tenant to use as they want for the space
Landlords traditionally want to use building general contractor for work, even if tenant is deciding what to or not to build in space
Whether allowance includes hard & soft costs is part of deal negotiation


Important for landlord to understand/price likely tenant improvement requests from tenants
Walk all available spaces with general contractor
Determine tenant improvements for each individual space
Bid all work through general contractor to understand price ramifications of work
Factor likely work in to rent numbers
Full understanding of likely tenant improvements will allow landlords to push turnkey tenant improvement packages at higher rental rates



  • Suite:1,000 SF
  • Estimated improvements:Carpet, paint & some demo/touch up items.Est. = $10/SF
  • Total tenant improvement costs:$10,000
  • Proposed lease length:3 years
  • Interest rate:7%
  • Cost to tenant:$.31/SF
  • Proposed asking rent w/ no tenant improvements:$1.50/SF
  • Proposed asking rent w requested tenant improvements:$1.81/SFIn short, you will need to charge tenant $.31/SF/month extra on rent to complete tenant improvements.


• Overall, space use should be in line with project “feel”
• For office buildings, lease to office tenants
• If retail building, lease to retail
• Willingness of project to handle tenant improvements on behalf of incoming tenant is based on overall deal terms, as well as ability to reuse new tenant improvements in future.


Generally, any build-out that is outside of traditional tenant improvement or office use should be paid for by tenant (either directly or through add on to rent).

  • Huge private offices (“ego offices”)
  • Dense office or conference room build out
  • Pony walls (half height wall with a built in cubical) or built-in cubes
  • Extra plumbing


• For smaller projects, “As-is” leasing can be utilized
• Important to get spaces in clean, ready condition
• Paint touch-up, carpet shampoo are alternatives to new carpet & pain
• Explanation to tenants is any tenant improvements will be at their cost & expense



  • Market property in local paper, craigslist, social media (facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter)•
  • If procuring broker brings tenant to project, explain that commissions are paid by tenants at project
  • Still important to put together marketing flyer for building



  • Following points above, get spaces into market-ready condition and have space plan done for each space
  • Include space plan for lease or sublease exhibit
  • No new space plans for tenants who do tenant improvements on space themselves/Space planning is at tenant’s cost, as is build-out


If tenant improvements are to be done, landlord’s contractor is one doing it
Work that is done is per the lease negotiations, nothing more
If tenant improvement allowance situation, landlord’s contractor still does work
Any contractor working in building on behalf of tenant is approved by landlord

•Lease and sublease documents will have sections outlining how and who will handle the build-out
•One of main issues in section is what happens if delivery of possession is delayed
•If work is delayed, offer free rent as landlord penalty
•Traditional penalty timeframe is 30-90 days past when space was supposed to be delivered to tenant
•Landlord should push for 90, tenant will push for 30


Lease Exhibits
Delivery of Possession
Turnkey Tenants Improvements
Tenant Improvement Allowance


Project Management Perspective – Kim Frentz Edmonds
Project Management – comprehensive from financing, pre-construction, construction, and tenant move in.

Project Management is planning everything possible ahead of time, and then it’s all keeping things on track.

What is your schedule? What are the activities that have to go into it?
Time is money
-Lease payments and interest
-Tenants have to give notice in their existing space, so you don’t want to leave too much delay
-Lost rent if the tenant could’ve been move in.


Who is the project manager?

  • If you have a large enough organization and center, where you have in house staff with construction experience and can have dedicated time for the project, then do it in house
  • If it is really small, the architect can be the project manager. You still need a liaison from the landlord. to make sure the timing and financing is working.
  • Bring on a third party project manager for large, complex projects, especially if you don’t have staff with construction expertise.


The Work Letter
This is a lease exhibit that identifies who is doing what, landlord vs. tenant.
-Submission requirements and Landlord review: Schedule, Budget, Plans, Permits, Insurance, Subcontractors
-Schedule for completion and delivery of space
-Define terms
-Landlord needs oversight of the work if the tenant is doing the work


Common Terms
-“Core and Shell” -Core and shell covers base building elements such as structure, envelope, common areas, elevators and the HVAC system.
-“TI” –Tenant Improvements includes the components of the space not included in Core and Shell.
-“TI Allowance” -Tenant Improvement Allowance is funds provided by Landlord for use in construction of Tenant Improvements.
-“Approved Plans” –Plans reviewed and approved by Landlord and then approved and permitted by relevant agencies.
-“Specifications” –Detailed descriptions of components, fixtures and equipment included in construction scope.
-“Substantial Completion” –When construction is sufficiently complete so the owner can occupy or utilize the work for the use for which it is intended.

  • WHO MANAGES THE BUILD-OUT? Tenant-Sophisticated tenants with construction management capacity -Limited scope improvements with specialized knowledge requirements Landlord-Projects that involve work with complex or major building systems -Projects that are time sensitive and cause potential disruption for other tenants
  • HOW TO MANAGE THE FINANCES? Tenant Disbursements -Evidence of Tenant funds -Typically must be made before Landlord funds invested -Track disbursements and require lien waivers from contractors Landlord Disbursements -Two party to contractor/Tenant -Reimbursement to Tenant -Directly to contractor with Tenant review and approval
  • HOW TO MANAGE THE LOGISTICS? -COMMUNICATION with all tenants -Specifics of scheduling –hours of work, hours for deliveries, hours for noise, utility disruptions -Specifics of deliveries –paths of travel and storing materials -Use of elevators and other common areas -Planning ahead to mitigate unforeseen problems . Triggering alarm systems . Damage to building systems . Other
    Must have continuity from the beginning to the end of the project, making sure that all of the specifics are documented, as well as milestones which may trigger legal requirements.


Landlord – Paula Mayo, The Interchurch Center
The Interchurch Center

  • Located on the Upper West Side of New York City
  • Houses offices and agencies of various religions, and of ecumenical and interreligious organizations
  • All organizations housed in the building are 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporations
  • Construction was completed on this 19 story office building in 1960
  • This steel and masonry building with a facade of limestone and granite, occupies one city block. It includes mechanical spaces, parking and a cafeteria in the sub levels, meeting rooms on the first level, Medical Offices and a research library on the 2nd floor, and office space on the 2ndthrough 19thfloors
  • This building is occupied and operational seven days a week
  • Has its own zip code
  • Has a chapel


Tenant Work Policy

  • Tenants accept space as-is
  • Tenants are responsible for building out their space, in accordance with their lease agreement with the policies of The Interchurch Center (TIC)
  • Work in the building must be done with union labor


The Lease

Building Standards are outlined in the lease documents:

  • Design and construction standards include wall construction, ceiling tiles specifications and other finishes
  • Building rules and regulations are also outlined in the lease
  • Rent commences with possession of the space not occupancy (when they sign the lease)


Pre-Construction: Construction Document Review
Documents are reviewed from various angles:

  • Building management reviews for compliance with building standards
  • Building engineer staff reviews for coordination with existing systems, and to avoid possible interruption to other tenants’ services
  • Engineer of record (usually an outside entity) reviews for compliance with state and local codes
  • Tenants must file all work with the proper authorities once landlord has reviewed and approved work


Pre-Construction: Contractor Selection
Contractors are selected by the tenant but must be approved by The Interchurch Center:

  • TIC provides a list of preferred building contractors for reference
  • Tenant must provide references for contractors new to the building
  • Contractor must have performed work similar in scale to the current project


Pre-Construction: Filing

  • All work must be filed with the NYC DOB and other local authorities:
  • A pre-construction inspection must be done to ensure there is no disruption of positive materials(i.e. asbestos) (if present), and proper paperwork must be filed depending on the work required
  • Work cannot be performed until permits are in hand and displayed
  • All forms are signed by the President & Executive Director of TIC



  • The tenant is responsible for the construction financially and from a management perspective (and they require financial statements)
  • Weekly job meetings are held and include the tenant PM, their contractor, the building manager and building engineer
  • During construction building management ensures access to all building systems is maintained
  • During construction building management coordinates with the tenant’s contractor to ensure work disruptive to other tenants (i.e. core drilling) is coordinated and does not interrupt their operations. Demolition is to be scheduled after normal business hours, Monday –Friday or weekends.
  • Staging of all materials must be done within the tenant’s space


During construction building management coordinates with the contractor on items such as:

  • Deliveries
  • Removals
  • Tie-in’s to building systems
  • Bringing systems offline
  • Sprinkler drain downs


All overtime for building personnel is billed to the Tenant. Some work the tenant performs must be done by base building vendors such as:

  • Mechanical controls
  • Fire alarm work
  • Keying of door hardware
  • Voice/Data cabling


Delivery of furniture is coordinated with the building
Installation of internet connection is provided by the in-house building team
Installation of phones is done by in-house building team
Tenant is responsible with setting up computers and other equipment


Completion of Build Out and Move In

  • Any punch list work is managed by the tenant
  • Move in is coordinated with building management for freight availability
  • Weekend move ins are preferred
  • TIC can provide porter services at a cost to the tenant
  • Building management prepares an abstract of tenant’s lease terms for distribution to ownership and The Interchurch center accounting department for billing purposes once lase has been executed by tenant and landlord.


Do you charge the same rate of rent during build out as occupancy? Yes. The lease is the lease. You are incentivizing the tenant to complete their work on time. Some generous landlords provide free rent for a f reasonable period of time.


What about groups that want to do TI through volunteers. ? TIC couldn’t allow this because of insurance complications. That’s a very dangerous area to get into.


Furniture Standards: TIC has base furniture standers for cubicles and similar resources, but the rest is open to interpretation. Colors on the wall and ceiling tiles are standard as well.


When would you bring a broker in?
Depends on the amount of available spaces
10 little suites or one large one
that determines the amount


IS there a standard broker commissions – varies by market . In NYC the rents are high and the brokerage commission is usally a percentage. On the west coast it’s usally a dollar amount per square footage over a period of years.


Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Creating a positive work environment can sometimes be a challenge when dealing with the day to day stresses of your own work. But letting the little issues build up in a shared space is a detriment to all involved. Here are a few documents to let you know you are not alone, why it is important to address the little things, and how to accomplish that in a manner that builds everyone up.


Online Resource Center

NCN Webinar I The Collaboration Project: Tested Strategies to Build Collaboration in Shared Spaces

NCN’s Collaboration Project Publication
NCN Blog Post: 5 Tips for Building Your Shared Space Community Online
NCN Webinar | Authentic Tenant Engagement – What Works?
NCN – Building Blocks for Success – Building a Vibrant Tenant Community

Ask-NCN Live Blog Re-cap: Collaboration

NCN Blog Post: The Hierarchy of Needs of Tenant Partners in Shared Space


From Denver Shared Spaces’ Blog Entries: Lessons from the Brain Trust

March 2016 – To Policy or Not to Policy? (which includes this reference document as well)
April 2016 – Why Can’t You Just Act Right?
May 2016 – Building Trust in Your Center: A 3×3 Strategy


Building a stronger, livelier, and united community, see these pages:

Community Events – Themes & Strategies – for both within your shared space and outside with your community
Equitable, Inclusive Shared Spaces
Community Animation
Partnership Cultivation and Facilitation (Icebreakers)


Other hot topics:

Tenant Recruitment and Selection
Room Booking Etiquette


From an Ask-NCN Discussion, 12/2/15


James Thompson, New Path Foundation
I was wondering if any of you had protocols or policies or just learning experiences in terms of the costs associated with having to pay for the planning of space for new tenants; specifically related to floor plan drawings and the engagement of consultants to do this type of work? Currently we have been underwriting all associated planning costs and were looking around to see if there was examples of cost sharing between facility owners (i.e. Landlords) and new tenants coming in. After a few experiences with tenants requesting redesigns and changes along the way to layouts, we are needing to rethink our current approach of covering all these costs. For example, perhaps a set rate for plans/drawings based on square feet that would be covered initially by the landlord with any subsequent changes or additions being borne by the tenant…just a thought we are mulling over at present.


Debra Bodner, City of Vancouver
Not sure if this will help at all, but we, in Cultural Services at the City of Vancouver, have a grant program specifically aimed at space-related issues. In this program we will fund both planning and capital projects. Among other things, organizations can apply for a grant to plan for new space or plan the re-design of the space, and then apply for capital funds to do renovations. We fund up to 50% of the project costs; the organization may contribute 25% in-kind services; they must raise at minimum the remaining funds.Here is a link to our program guidelines and information. feel free to contact me if you’d like more info or have questions.


Faisal Abid, The NonProfit Center of Boston
I’m the Property Manager at the NonProfit Center of Boston run by Third Sector New England, and have been involved with the management of this property for about 4 and a half years.In my time here, we’ve had some new organizations move in that required a redesign of existing spaces; in addition to this, we’ve had existing tenants who, as part of a lease renewal, have requested redesigns of their space. For the most part we build in the cost for both the design and the actual construction in to their lease term (as in the $/sf/year cost is higher if a redesign is needed), and specify exactly what we are willing to cover in the lease. As an example, we have a tenant here with about 1,800sf who is renewing for a 5 year term, and as part of the extension, requested a redesign of their space. We wrote in to the improvement plan of the new lease that we would cover the cost of two full (space layout, mechanical, etc.) drawings done by a professional architect, and anything beyond that would be the tenant’s responsibility.I also used to work for a property management company, and at a lot of their sites, they would establish a per square foot allowance for new tenants that would cover any drawings and construction, calculated based on the length of the term and the per sf cost the tenant would be paying.I’ve also found it helps to have someone from building management involved from the start of the design process, to manage expectations around what is and isn’t possible within the space.


John Powers, Alliance for Sustainable Colorado
At the Alliance Center in Denver, tenants are required to pay for space modifications. The amount may be tempered by the length of lease agreement executed – the long the lease, we, the landlord, may bear some of the costs, whether soft (designs, engineering, etc.) or hard (tangible materials). We don’t use a formula. We assess costs by getting competitive bids. We also reserve the right to approve designs and materials, particularly because the Center is LEED certified and we neither want to jeopardize the certification nor end up with pink Leopard spots for carpeting or wall paint.


Kim McNamer, Deschutes Children’s Foundation
Keep in mind…we are an organization who does not charge rent or a property management fee. We have a use fee for each partner that covers basic CAMs and is figured by their square footage, but it isn’t an actual lease.Typically, when a new partner is moving in and they request a redesign, new paint, new carpet, etc., we work with them to ensure whatever they want done meets our standards, but they are on the hook for paying for/or getting in kind services for all the work. We will help them by getting competitive bids if they don’t have any connections or by putting them in touch with those we have worked with in the past.I have learned over the last few years that this can be a gray area for us, so we typically do things on a case by case basis. An example of when we share costs is in regards to classrooms with preschool kids. There is more wear and tear on those rooms and we typically will pay for half of the cost to replace carpet if needed. We had a request for AC from one of our partners this year. We received got the bids and options, discussed them with them and suggested the one we thought was most cost effective. It was going to impact our administrative offices, so we split the cost with them. For new carpeting in the common areas and conference rooms, we pay. If they want to paint their office because they are bored with the color, they must go through us, request permission to paint, show us the paint color they are wanting, we ask a few questions about who is doing the work and then we remind them to do it right, mask and should anything get ruined, paint spilled on carpet, etc. they are responsible for the repair/replacement costs. One program needed a special AC unit to help keep their vaccine fridge opportunity at appropriate temperatures. This affects their program only. We got the bids, ordered the work that needed to be done and then billed them for entire project.Our rule of thumb has been that we are responsible for all things outside their offices and classrooms and they are responsible for everything inside. Meaning, they are to leave it as they found it, get permission if they want to change it, but then all costs associated with changing it inside their space is their responsibility.


Pam Mauk, Together Center
Our standards are about the same as Kim’s. Over our 25 year history, we have sometimes handled buildouts at critical junctures when we needed to move forward on space, but typically we handle preparing what is in place with new paint always and new carpet if needed and any buildouts are handled by tenants, including architectural work, permits and construction. We need to approve any changes, but have tenants sign that they are responsible for any permits and impacts from their work.We have handled the payment of contractors on occasion, adding the cost of the buildout to the lease for reimbursement over time, or other negotiated payments.


Karen Maciorowski, The CT Nonprofit Center
I direct the CT Nonprofit Center and we partner with a nonprofit real estate development organization who owns and leases the space while we run the shared space/services/resources/collaboration.


We approached this in 2 ways:

1. The below market rate rent was raised $0.50 per sf and the funds were put into a pool of money to be used for planning configurations and for the construction as long as the organization signed a 3 year lease. Due to low financing rates, this was an achievable goal.

2. The State of CT provided us a grant for a collaborative project of which we use funds to plan and implement all data ports and configuration to the shared data closet. Additional funds are used for some build out costs as well.Once round 1 is complete (when our grant runs out April 2016) we will have to either raise additional funds OR charge new tenants as most commercial real estate organizations do. We do not have any inflators on the leases – once a lease is signed, it is the same rate for the period of the lease.


Dustin Barrington, HNS Life Center
We were very fortunate to have the services of an architect donated for our project in exchange for some naming rights. Free wasn’t always cheap, but “in kind” generally worked for us.We have built out about 40k sq ft in the last 18 months. The school of hard knocks has taught us to be clear and consistent throughout the entire communication process with tenants. We started off trying to accommodate everyone’s requests but found that some tenants were willing to spend money as long as it was ours… Reserving generosity for partners that are willing to shoulder their part of the burden seems to produce better results for us.

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