Rapid Response to Quick Turnaround Tenant

by F. Josh Millman, AIA, LEED AP, CFM | Vice President, NTD

The landlord was predictably vague about the circumstances as he explained that he had a potential tenant who needed 285,000 square feet, within five weeks, to create a quick-turnaround fulfillment center.

 I knew better than to press him on whether there had been a fire or a sudden switch of a logistics contract to warrant the need for so much space so quickly. To add to the complexity, the warehouse space this landlord was offering was now part of the leasehold of another tenant, who was anxious to give up that excess space, which had no restrooms, offices, or handicapped accessibility. Fortunately, there were ample truck docks, trailer parking, and car parking.

In order to meet the aggressive schedule, we would need to produce drawings, receive Township zoning and code approval, and complete construction to receive a certificate of occupancy, all in five weeks! The critical path, of course, went right through the Township offices, where they could potentially need every one of the state-mandated maximum of 30 working days (six weeks) to process the drawings. That is, assuming the drawings were approved the first time through!

To make this happen, we first needed to have three critical conversations within 48 hours after receipt of the authorization to proceed:

Prospective Tenant: We had to know what was needed on Day 1 of their occupancy. It turns out that they would be starting out with receiving floor-stacked product; racking would follow six weeks later. The startup team agreed to work off of tables in the open warehouse. They did not immediately require a secure separation from the existing tenant, either. That left just restrooms, a handicapped entrance, and an 8-foot high interior fence to be provided.

Existing Tenant: Motivated by the immediate reduction in monthly rent, this company also agreed that a fence would be adequate. They were willing to share the restrooms closest to the future demising wall by creating a vestibule that had locked doors to each tenant space. However, there could be no handicapped-accessible access through their tenant space.

Township Officials: The code and zoning officers were agreeable to our plan, acknowledging that there would be permit modifications in the future for offices, restrooms, and racking. They could not guarantee better than the state-mandated turnaround, but our briefing them ahead of time would make their review much easier and quicker.

Based on those meetings, construction would be limited to the fencing and a handicapped ramp alongside an existing egress door. The ramp would be wooden, which could be provided much faster than a precast or cast-in-place concrete ramp.

Permit drawings were completed and submitted within one week, slightly more than three weeks ago. Last week we received word that the building permits were ready for pick up, so the carpenters could be onsite a few days later.

The next challenge appears to be to have the new tenant agree internally on what will be required for their new offices. We will provide the mechanical and electrical drawings along with the architectural drawings, to assure these are well coordinated, completed, and submitted at the same time in a two-week period. As an amendment to an existing permit, these improvements will likely require less time to review as no zoning approval is needed and the Township is now very familiar with the facility.

To learn more about Rapid Response contact Josh Millman at jmillman@nutecgroup.com or 717.434.1570.