The ground floor conundrum: 10 ways developers can attract great tenants

Generous ceiling heights and daylight at NB Studio in St George’s Circus development.

Generous ceiling heights and daylight at NB Studio in St George’s Circus development.

In the pride and excitement of shiny new glass towers and the current wave of new london vernacular housing it is easy to forget the ground floor. It is a small part of the development, but it can make or break the whole development. Street level is where a development gets its identity and much of its value. To make the overall project successful it is important to get occupiers in and not have empty ground floor spaces.

Here are ten simple effective ideas for developers, that our experience tells us, add to the attractiveness of ground floors for tenants and occupiers:

1.     A sign (with a light please!)

Tenants will want to be found by visitors and customers. They need a sign. When developers don’t build this it becomes uncontrolled, amateur and most sadly and frequently an A4 sheet blu-tacked to the window. It does not have to be this way. Developers can build in a sign bracket (at least at planning stage). If you want to see a great example visit the Brunswick Centre.

2.     A post box

Many residential developments have great and efficient post boxes for residents, but it is always forgotten that businesses receive post too. Thinking about postal collection facilities early on will help diminish this everyday worry for future tenants and stop haphazard after thoughts.

3.     Visitor cycle racks

Staff racks are part of the planning application compliance, but your tenant’s visitors need a place to lock up too. Locating these outside the door or with a view towards the entrance helps both visitors and business owners. Our research has shown that convenience stores get more visitors if cycle provisions are located right outside their door.

4.     Openable windows

Small independent companies want low running costs and healthy staff. They don’t want heavy air conditioning bills. They certainly don’t want complex pipework to rooftops. We have developed the best window configurations to balance air and security - the trick is “keep it simple”.

5.     Power

Good tenants have ethics. They want to be carbon free but there is no scope on the ground floor in cities to have solar or wind power. If developers make connections all electric, they can then work with companies like Good Energy to get 100% renewable fuel. The new building regulations in April 2019 will make this much easier.

6.     The ideal ceiling height

Tall spaces make generous studios, restaurant and retail spaces. However, if too tall there is a temptation to cram in a mezzanine and thus create low, dark spaces again. We have developed ratios for ceiling heights that allow for raised access floors, useful storage above the toilets and kitchens but retain that all important generosity.

7.     A corner shop

Tenants, commercial and residential will need milk, tea and washing up liquid. A local corner shop, that is integral to the development, will help boost business and contribute towards a dynamic community.

8.     Waste pipes

It’s not a glamorous topic but ground floor tenants don’t want to hear the sound of resident’s toilets flushing away all day. Keeping the pipework in communal spaces helps to mitigate unwanted and nasty noise!

9.     Security

This is in the forefront of everyone’s minds, but often gets sidelined until after tenants have moved in. Invasive, bolt-on security measures can be avoided if discreet security measures are integrated into the design from the very beginning.

10.   A network

Small businesses want to know their neighbours. A simple get together to meet, discuss, collaborate helps form belonging and friendships. We will write more about an idea we are testing in our neighbourhood called the “Kennington Collective” in the future posts.

These measures are just some of the simple ways of attracting good tenants who will create a development that is independent, local and distinctive at the base of your buildings. It keeps them desirable and valued.

 To read more about NB Studio in St George’s Circus please click here

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