Reader Question #2

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What are some things we can do when we are building new branches to make them easier to sell-or that will enhance their resale value-if we should decide to close a particular location in the future?

Ralph La Macchia, La Macchia Group

If you are working with one of this panel's members, you won't be entering a market in which selling or having an exit strategy is necessary.

If you or your consultant is skeptical, renting may be a better option for a period of time before buying.

Or you could buy the land and then keep it until you are ready to build.

Unfortunately, once you close on the land, the community and competition will know your intentions.

The biggest issues in converting a financial facility into some other type of building are: 1) the vault, 2) the drive-up canopy, deal drawer, and bullet-rated glass, and 3) the high ceiling in the lobby. We would recommend using a modular style vault, as they break down and would give you the option of having another room or office, then you can reuse or resell the vault.

In regards to the drive-up canopy and deal drawer, if you order two or three extra pallets of brick (do the math and don't forget the mortar) or other exterior materials from when you build, you could remove the canopy and deal drawer and fill in the voids.

We would not recommend designing the canopy to convert into interior space, as you would be adding cost for a reason that should tell you not to build to begin with.

Based on building design, the lobby could be an issue. Some prospective new buyers may want it, others may not. Should you need to cover it up, explain it to your designer in the "project criteria" portion of the schematic design phase.

The most difficult task is to convert a non-financial into a financial facility, particularly when you require a drive-up.

The reverse is quite easy.

The real value in the future is your site, not your building. While the building will have some value, we should not focus on resale as a component of the design. If we did, most of the exteriors and lobbies would change dramatically, and that flies in the face of what we are attempting to accomplish: sustained, profitable market capture.

If you do intend to sell your new branch, or an old one for that matter, put a deed restriction on your site for financial institutions.

Connie Lyle and Will Klein, KDA Holdings, Inc.

* Good locations near retail and small commercial businesses will enhance the demand for your location should you decide to sell.

* Do not make any outlandish architectural statements with the building that may detract from the value to others.

* Use as much systems furniture and modular fixtures as possible in order to cut down on fixed walls and the need by subsequent owners to remove them.

* Locate vaults, toilets, break rooms, and stairs around the perimeter of the facility to make it easier to use the interior space. These are typically expensive to move or demolish.

* Provide parking and entrances that will work for other businesses.

The Design Staff, DEI

To increase the resell value of your facility, the design should include:

* A flexible floor plan that can be easily changed into normal office space.

* Many windows. Windows will make the facility more attractive to a retailer when looking to purchase.

* Try to avoid implementing a vault, instead using safe or an ATM. A vault is difficult to remove.

* Have casework designed to be easily removed, especially the teller counter.

* Enclose the after-hours depository in steel, not concrete. Steel is easier to remove.

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