A little more than a year ago, our office lease was coming up and we were scrambling to find a new place. Acuity had just gone through three years of incredible growth, and we had big plans for the future. Unfortunately, most office leases are five years, and it was borderline impossible to predict how much space we’d need that far down the road. We knew we were going to grow, but at what pace? Did it make financial sense to pay more for space we didn’t need then, just because we thought we might need it a few years down the road?
We decided to look at buying a building, thinking we could lease out the extra space, and eventually grow into it. As luck would have it, the perfect building was available – it had some existing tenants with just enough space for us and great room for growth. Best of all, even with renovation it was less expensive over 5 years than any of the leases we looked at. I think the most exciting part for our team members, who were at their wit’s end parking downtown, was that the building was on a big lot that had tons of surface parking (seriously, monthly parking in downtown Tampa sucks…to get an idea, just visit 717 Parking’s Yelp page).
As excited as we all were, there was a healthy dose of fear. Not only was this a big decision, but just after we signed the contract COVID started to happen. I remember a few weeks later going to sign the loan documents at a law firm, right after Tampa instituted a mask mandate. There was definitely a part of me that was mortified as I was signing those papers.
It all worked out, though. It turns out, renovating and building out an office building takes an amount of time equal to about one COVID quarantine. We moved into a brand-new office build-out at the end of September, right as people were starting to get back to the office. Our added space means everyone has room, even in a socially distanced layout.
The only downside to this whole endeavor has been that being the building owner means we have to take care of our own problems. There is one big upside, though – we can bring our dogs to the office.
Sure, buying office space at the beginning of a global pandemic might seem on the surface to be a bit of bad timing, but it’s turned out to be a great home and a great spot in which to grow our team and our organization.