I am meeting with Jamie Covello, Executive Director, Avison Young in their midtown Manhattan offices. I’m here to see what Jamie thinks the future holds for her and the commercial real estate industry.
Nationally recognized as a leader in the real estate industry, Jamie has 30+ years of experience and knowledge. Most recently Executive Director, Cushman & Wakefield, she joined Avison Young as Executive Director in 2017. Jamie tells me she’s in “build mode” and “having a blast” working with tech companies, investment banking, medical offices and, of course, her corporate clients. She’s anticipating an exciting new paradigm as technology infiltrates all aspects of the industry.
I ask for her thoughts on temporary or shared office spaces like WeWork. “Temporary space is a beautiful thing for a company that requires agility. Some large global corporations are allocating up to 15% of their total space to temporary space. At first glance, it appears to be more expensive, but on closer examination, there can be tremendous cost savings and other hidden economies in the case of a reduction or expansion.
In the mid-90’s Jamie was involved in rightsizing companies. She orchestrated the first “hotelling” office for Ernst & Young in New York (which was also their first paperless office). She also worked on rightsizing projects for Honeywell and Pitney Bowes. The ultimate goal was to place people closer to their clients which caused them to work remotely.
She’s seeing the pendulum swing back again: “People are being pulled back in from the field because they need to collaborate, have a connection, and exchange ideas. Inspiration can happen in a split second.”
She also sees the pendulum swinging in the real estate industry to the client-centric, service model she embraces. Het focus is more detailed as she breaks it down for me: “Finding space is about 10% of the process. Expertise is needed to ferret through a range of issues. Then, there are about 30 other economic issues that are embedded in the language of the lease. Negotiating these properly make a big difference down the road. Not only are there cost issues involved, but frameworks for solutions in case things don’t go the way the company planned. They may need to sublet, or if things are phenomenal, they may need to expand. There could be disputes about operating expenses, or worst case, an owner who is unable to provide services due to a building’s financial status.”
She continues: “If I’m working with a high growth company, I encourage my clients to look at buildings where I can secure the option on contiguous space down the road. That could save the company millions if they don’t have to move out of the space and deal with accelerated depreciation and extraordinarily limited ability to recoup costs through subletting. We’re also talking about the cost of relocations and rebuilding.”
“How about technology?” I ask. “Nowadays clients have many of the same tools as the commercial real estate companies. Does that mean they can go-it-alone?”
Jamie smiles… “I developed a worst-case best-case cost-benefit analysis for a client that did not think they needed a broker to negotiate their renewal lease. The broker fee was minimal and the space was only 10,000 square feet. She pauses and continues: “I looked at just 4 of the 30 issues and found one million dollars at risk in the deal!”
Jamie laughs…”Needless to say, we were engaged to act on their behalf.”
“I see myself as a steward, guiding my clients throughout the entire real estate process. My goal is to create the best solution for my clients, add true value to their bottom line and help them create the right environment for their employees.”
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