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By Alex Kolodesh, CCIM

In the Fall 2014 edition of the York Commons-Miller Lane Newsletter, I introduced the first of three articles focusing on the best practices for successful development. This quarter, I want to focus on the second practice I believe is essential for long-term stability in a commercial development. This practice involves the commitment to a solid set of aesthetic principles and structural guidelines.

First and foremost, the reason for this commitment is to benefit two important groups: the Butler Township community and our tenants. Development that is aesthetically strong and structurally sound enables our tenants to maintain a sense of uniqueness while keeping Miller Lane a location where quality development prevails and our community thrives. From our first multi-tenant building, still with the original businesses of Cold Stone, Cassanos and Great Clips as tenants, to our most recent addition of the Fazoli’s (along with McAlister’s Deli and Batteries Plus Bulbs as future additions) at the corner of York Commons Boulevard and Miller Lane – we believe we have maintained a particular aesthetic identity throughout the development.

In addition to the multi-tenant centers we have built, we have worked very closely throughout the entire process with the various commercial users that have purchased property and built their own buildings. The critical factor in each case was to maintain and even enhance the overall aesthetic of the development. There are a couple of building designs I would like to refer to as examples. These businesses include Walmart, Olive Garden and Progressive Insurance. All three possess their own unique designs, while contributing to the overall quality of the development.

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(Pictured Above) The general Olive Garden design in Beavercreek.

We knew the community wanted a Walmart and for this reason we wanted to make every reasonable accommodation to bring them here. Our priority was to do whatever we could to make sure Walmart’s building design fit within the overall “look” of the development. We kept in mind that the smallest of details can have a significant impact. For this reason, we needed to be as thoughtful as possible. The Walmart project from start to finish, occurred over a two year period, from the initial negotiations, to the signing of the contract, to the opening of the store.

Before signing a contract, Singer Properties asked Walmart for a submission of the building design along with the hardscape and landscape layouts of the surrounding area. We provided guidelines to Walmart corporate we believed would provide a positive contribution to the community’s character. The Butler Township Walmart sits on a 23 acre parcel and is essentially at the center of the Business District.

Singer Properties worked with Walmart corporate to make sure this particular building maintained a neighborhood feel that made a positive contribution to the community’s character.

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In contrast, the Butler Township Olive Garden displays the “Tuscan Farmhouse” design, a higher scale, premium building design. It is just one of many high quality examples in the District.

The result was the incorporation of masonry cladding on the outside of the store along with a retention pond outlined with black aluminum fencing and well-designed hardscape and landscape. All three additions come together forming a much better look to the area.

The use of brick and EIFS (artificial stucco) vs. split-faced block and siding by Walmart, along with the other material upgrades, significantly increased the overall costs to the construction project. In order for Walmart to agree to such concessions, the overall purchase price for the parcel needed to be greatly reduced. Singer Properties did so because the long term aesthetic standards of the development necessitated it.

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(Above) In Butler Township, brick along with the use of EIFS (artificial stucco) surrounding promotes a higher standard in the quality of aesthetic principles and structural guidelines that is present throughout the district.

Another example in building design is the Olive Garden. There are a variety of styles used for new stores by Olive Garden corporate. We wanted only the best design for Miller Lane. The “Tuscan Farmhouse” design was selected because of its visual appeal. A high grade of building materials was required to include sufficient architectural detail such as lighting sconces, awnings, and architectural pop-outs that break-up expansive flat space and provide visual interest.

Olive Garden’s use of a stone design for its exterior, has a pop-out effect along the interstate and along restaurant row on Miller Lane. This is one example of how important it is to have an attractive facade to draw people not familiar with the area off the interstate to the District.

My final example is Progressive Insurance. The Progressive Insurance building on North Dixie was the result of months of planning. We toured other new Progressive facilities across the region to make sure the design would be the right fit for the development. This again created a two-year process beginning with the initial negotiations, to the signing of the contract and finally ending with Progressive’s opening.

We believe by focusing on this principle of good development, these buildings will be architecturally pleasing and materials will continue to hold up many years from now. This is why we cannot be complacent. We have to maintain a consistency in quality from start to finish.

We believe that the combination of adhering to sound development practices on our part and strong operational competency on the part of the respective businesses will result in continued growth and success for the area.

Businesses are succeeding every day in the District. One particular example I can point to is that just the other day we learned Cold Stone Creamery is among the top ten percent in sales amongst the thousands of other franchised stores across the country.

We are proud that we can point to success stories such as Cold Stone Creamery, along with others in our development, who continue to make the area a true consumer destination.

 

By Alex Kolodesh, CCIM and Partner of SINGERProperties

York Commons-Miller Lane Buiness District – Fazoli’s and WalMart Area

Nearly twenty years ago, Singer Properties started with a blank slate in developing a large tract of real estate – a 140-acre parcel of land – that is now known as the York Commons-Miller Lane District of Butler Township. We began with a vision of “what could be” and are now standing at the precipice of “what is”; throughout these years we have been committed to the success of the York Commons-Miller Lane development at every stage of the process.

By maintaining our commitment to our core principles and following a specific set of outlined goals, we are to the point of achieving a stabilized and successful development over the long-term. We feel that we are consistently pushing the project towards our end goal – a development that is fully integrated within the fabric of the Butler Township community as an amenity for the township residents and other customers.

Three goals essential to good economic development have guided our decisions. These goals are simple in theory, yet they take careful and calculated planning to achieve.

The three goals are: first, to deliver outstanding value to the businesses coming to the area; second, to provide the maximum benefit to the community in which the development resides; and third, to cultivate an environment where patrons of those tenant businesses are met with the best customer service experience from both tenant and developer.

Each quarter, I will be writing an article addressing the importance of each goal and how it has been achieved in the York Commons-Miller Lane development. It will become readily apparent that, while on the surface these goals seem to be distinct, they are actually intertwined and are rooted in common principles.

In this issue, I would like to focus on the first of the three goals needed for good development, which is to deliver outstanding value to businesses within the development.

When Singer Properties broke ground on this development nearly 20 years ago we strove to create something completely unique to the area: a first class project, that would stand the test of time in its architectural styling, land planning and construction materials. This is a necessity since businesses looking for space, whether they are restaurants, retailers or office users, have a variety of locations from which to choose. Rather than take the position that businesses are somehow lucky to get into our development, we instead have always been honored when a business owner makes a decision to invest his or her time and resources to become a tenant within the development.

Providing superior value to the businesses goes beyond providing a first-class product for them. We also need to focus on the correct mix of tenants. This is really more art than science but, at its core, the concept is to make sure that the businesses have the potential to complement one another. Usually, that means that the goods and services they provide are different from business to business. Occasionally, some friendly competition actually benefits the respective establishments.
We not only evaluate the various types of businesses when creating a “tenant mix” but also where they should be positioned within the project. This will depend, in large part, on the customers that the business caters to: what time of the day do the customers usually come to the business; how long do they park there; does the business cater to families or individuals? These and many other questions need to be addressed when evaluating a potential location for a business and how it fits in with the others in the area.

Once we find the correct location for a business within the development, we must commit to supporting them in an ongoing manner throughout their tenancy. This is accomplished by maintaining the buildings in top condition, providing first-rate landscaping, well-maintained parking lots, as well as extensive building and parking lot lighting. Each parcel of property – the building, signage and landscaping – must become an integrated component within the overall development. Essentially, each building has to be an amenity to the project.

At each phase of the project, our goal was to build to the highest standards. In order to continually attract the best tenants and to provide a positive customer experience, it has been critical for us to maintain these high standards. Good development practices demand nothing less. Our company would have done a strong disservice to the tenants of the development, and to the residents of Butler Township, had we just settled for mediocre construction materials and architectural styling. In the near future, be on the lookout for existing tenants expanding their businesses and new businesses finding homes in the district. You will also see upgrades in lighting and landscaping.

It’s amazing to think that at one time, the development was just an open field. Having a vision and following a plan to actualize that vision has made the district what it is today. The York Commons-Miller Lane Business District is proud to make its home in Butler Township and looks forward to what the future holds.